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April 23, 2009
Vision ProblemsBy Greyhawk
Hey kids - here's another U.S. Government comic:
The comic is about amblyopia, aka lazy eye. When I was a kid my friend next door had amblyopia and wore a patch to strengthen his eye. That made it fun to play pirate.
And pirate is the actual topic of this post - along with security and other vision problems that neither Charles Schulz or the US government in 1968 could foresee.
Foreseeable or not, you can't blame the administration for not developing a plan to deal with pirates in its first 100 days. That the ongoing issue is suddenly thrust into the public eye by a dramatic hostage stand-off doesn't change that fact. (The Wall Street Journal says a "14 page blueprint" for securing the Gulf of Aden shipping lanes was prepared by the NSC in the final days of the Bush administration. Its current status is uncertain at best.)
But moving forward, some of the ideas now proposed for dealing with the issue seem less than well thought out - perhaps that's forgivable under the rushed circumstances. If not forgivable, "can we get money from them?" is at least an understandable first response from a certain class of lawyer. But the "grabbing their assets" idea (ahh, maybe that what they mean by ordering attacks on pirates...) is one rather effectively disposed of here. (We can only hope it will be as quickly expired in Washington.)
But as also reported in the "grabbing assets" story, "NATO forces have helped fend off several [pirate] attacks in recent days, but have released the culprits because they had no jurisdiction to arrest them."
Fortunately, a milblogger recently got the opportunity to ask NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (audio at the link) just why exactly that was happening.
Scheffer responded that "at the moment each nation uses its national law" in dealing with captured pirates. (Arrest is one thing, jurisdiction another. NATO, of course, is not a law making body, and there are no "NATO courts" where pirates could be tried.) Scheffer also dismissed a suggestion that more NATO warships would solve the problem. That's true - they'll help (as he noted) - but the threat area is large enough that all the navies of the world couldn't guarantee security therein. In fact, just about all the navies in the world are already there, including Russian and Chinese ships - and there's still plenty of wiggle room for pirates. But that's not the reason he feels additional ships aren't the answer.
Which brings us to the NATO Secretary General's recommendation for reigning in the pirates: capture them and try them in existing or newly created United Nations tribunals. This will work, he assures us, because while military presence fails to deter pirates, the knowledge that they could face arrest and trial will.
Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse arrives in New York City
Put this in terms of your hometown and you could imagine the lack of deterrent effect of a police department with no court system other than one that would try them for harming suspected criminals.
But militaries are not police - which is why there are no existing courts for this situation. The problem isn't a lack of courts, the problem is that people didn't used to be as absolutely stupid as they are today. The first prison built to house the output of these proposed UN tribunals (or Guantanamo, maybe?) will be filled to capacity long before there is any decrease in piracy off the Somali shores. Yes - a lot of people will make a lot of money in the bargain, but the smilin' jolly Abduwalis will continue on their merry pirate way.
Too bad they can't put a couple machine guns on the merchant vessels that transit the area. I'm betting warning shots would save a lot of time, effort, cash, and lives. To bad we'll probably never know.
Unless... maybe if this were put in comic book form we could get the governments to understand?
Posted by Greyhawk / April 23, 2009 8:46 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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