Monday, April 13, 2009

Bolton Cheerleads “Blackhawk Dumb” Wingnut Bombast

Leave it to former Bushco U.N. Rep John “Blow ‘Em up” Bolton here to call for an invasion of Somalia by a new “coalition of the willing” in response to the rescue of Maersk ship captain Richard Phillips (above, right) by our special forces; commendations to all (and I heartily agree with John Cole here via The Daily Kos; approving stuff like this comes with the territory if you’re president – sometimes it works, and sometimes you get sand in the gyroscopes of your helicopters while trying to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran and people get killed…and yes, I really said that).

(Besides, I’ll be perfectly honest with you; while I’m definitely glad that a Democrat occupies the White House at this moment as opposed to a certain Republican senator from Arizona and his clueless former governor as veep dontcha know, I would like to know just what the hell kind of a game our chief executive is playing when he codifies and actually expands the surveillance activity of his predecessor as noted here.)

More to the point, though, I have to admit that I find myself at a bit of a loss in the matter of advising our ships in that area of the world. Here is another member of the wingnut chorus and his screed (another kos h/t), telling us as follows…

Start by blaming the timorous lawyers who advise the governments attempting to cope with the pirates such as those who had been engaged in a standoff with U.S. hostage negotiators in recent days. These lawyers misinterpret the Law of the Sea Treaty and the Geneva Conventions and fail to apply the powerful international laws that exist against piracy. The right of self-defense -- a principle of international law -- justifies killing pirates as they try to board a ship.
Funny how we don’t care about the Geneva Conventions when we’re trying to obtain “reliable” information from torture, but now suddenly we expect it to apply when it suits us. And by the way, we can’t enforce the Law of the Sea Treaty for a simple reason – we never ratified it!

I thought this New York Times story by Jeffrey Gettleman yesterday was interesting in that it provided historical context, discussing raids by pirates off the “Barbary Coast” in the 18th century in an area very similar to where the most recent raids have taken place; back then, from around 1786 to the early 1800s, we actually tried to work with the pirates to a degree, mainly because, as a young nation trying to survive, we really didn’t have much choice – Gettleman also tells us how we sought to avoid conflict with them…

“The United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,” a 1796 treaty reads. “It has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,” which is how Muslims was spelled back then.
“Not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,” huh? Gee, maybe all those wingnuts screaming here about what Obama said recently (clipping the quote, of course) would do well to keep that in mind (as well as these words from a former Catholic president – this ties in a bit to this post, by the way).

And this New York Times story today tells us of the dangers of arming the crews of our ships…

“If we arm our crews with light machine guns, they can probably buy heavy machine guns,” (Arthur Bowring, the managing director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association) said. “And if we buy light rocket launchers, they can buy heavy ones.” The answer to piracy, he said, was better law enforcement ashore.

Most ports severely restrict vessels from having weapons on board, and changing those regulations in each country would be difficult, (Shipping Consultant Matthew) Flynn said. The United States Coast Guard has been especially wary, fearing that the weapons could be used for terrorist attacks.

Because a commercial vessel might stop in a dozen countries during a voyage, it would be hard for it to carry weapons if any port along the route forbade that, Mr. Flynn said.

International regulation of shipping has shifted heavily away from the countries that register vessels and toward the local and national governments at the ships’ ports of call. This has made it even more complicated to come up with common international standards, because so many countries are involved.

Protecting tankers from pirates is especially difficult. They are a favorite target in Asia and Africa because they are relatively slow moving and may carry valuable cargo like gasoline and diesel, which are easily unloaded and resold.

Accidental fires are a constant worry for tanker crews, which train for them constantly. A tanker crew that is exchanging gunfire with pirates could run the risk of igniting vapors from the cargo, or the cargo itself, shipping executives have said.
So it looks like perhaps indeed our best defense against the pirates is to be vigilant and monitor them from ashore as closely as possible (though I have no doubt that they’ll come up with more creative ways to plunder in response).

The toughest way to head this off, though, is to intervene in Somalia in an attempt to pre-empt the pirates before they take to their boats (yeah I know, good luck with that).

So as long as we have something of a plan, Former Secretary Bolton, I just have two words in response to your call for invasion into that part of the world:

You first.

Update: Wasn't the AP threatening action against web sites linking to their content in an "unauthorized" fashion just last week? Do they mean laughable dreck like this? Hell, giving a link to this stuff would be extending a favor it doesn't deserve.

Also, is it any wonder that news organizations are in trouble, given the fact that they give so much credence to the knuckleheads featured in this clip (particularly Krauthammer, who you see in that daffy turtleneck for a couple of seconds)?

And oh yeah, just go ahead and "charge for online content" and charge the same for your print ads as your online ads. And expect that to fix everything.

Yeah. That'll work...

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