Hypothesis: The Somali pirates represent the birth pangs of a new Somali government.
Evidence: Their actions are in no way different from those of governments. They have claimed maritime territory and assumed the right to guard it.
The proposition that, as a whole, they are vicious, lawless robbers seeking profit at the expense of others is both true and unfair. Allow me to elaborate.
They are, of course, operating outside of any recognized legal system, and they seek profit at the expense of others but so do governments which we consider legitimate, so that argument fails on its face.
They are, in fact, structured and not entirely without their own "code."
They have never killed a hostage. They will not hijack the same ship twice. Many of them actually see themselves as guards of Somali territory, bringing in money to provide for the reconstruction of their devastated nation Robin Hoods stealing from the prosperous to provide for the impoverished.
I will not defend that idea. I am simply establishing the premise that they are as justified as existing governments; and for the same reasons.
This is a remarkable thing.
Based on this hypothesis, we can predict several things:
- The pirates will not go away; even if they are attacked, they fill an economic void that will need to be filled.
- They will organize and systems will develop.
- They will become more sophisticated technologically, systematically, and culturally.
- They will become bolder and, in time, may even establish rudimentary armies and police forces.
I see great opportunity in this, too. Imagine what the right incentives employed in the right way could do this government is at its most malleable stage.
Finance and education, applied properly, could persuade the people of Somalia to adopt never-before-tried approaches to government. Aided by Western investment, order and prosperity could be brought to this desert wasteland like never before and entire new vistas opened for people the world over.
If you have ever said, "This idea is great but there’s no way it would ever be accepted," I propose you think again. We have been given a tremendous opportunity: a new frontier to try new ideas. You owe it to yourself; if you think you have an economically and socially viable idea that can bring prosperity and liberty to Somalia, find the people who can make it happen. Find the financiers, the contractors, whatever it takes. My humble suggestion is that protective services for both Somalis and ships traveling through Somali waters will be essential and quite profitable.
It may be that nothing comes of it, but as they say: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
These opportunities are rare, coming only a few times in human history.
Consider the possibilities.
April 22, 2009