Friday, April 10, 2009

To The Shores Of Tripoli.............

The saga off the coast of Somalia continues.

I understand that the skipper made a attempt to escape the pirates but was quickly recaptured. All this under the eyes of a U.S. warship. I will not make any judgment on what occurred since I wasn't there. I know it must be frustrating to the personnel on scene. I hope this situation will end well.

Now what to do about future incidents? The talking heads are already saying the U.S. Navy just doesn't have enough ships or personnel to patrol the area. I have a simple solution. The congress should start issuing Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

Basically this would allows private citizens to arm ships and sail against enemies of our country. This is a very old policy which goes back to the days of sail. Smaller nations have always fallen back on this when engaged in war, since a standing navy was sometimes cost prohibitive to small or young countries. During the period of the colonial wars, all the great nations of Europe would allow privateers to sail against enemy shipping, the Letters of Marque was a protection against the privateers from being considered pirates. The sponsoring country would be entitled to a percentage of all ships or goods taken by the privateers. The rest would be divided between the privateer crew and the ship owner who armed and equipped the ship used as the privateer vessel.

American privateers were of great service to the American cause in both the Revolution and the War of 1812. Sometimes the only supplies that the American army received, particularly during the Revolutionary War was as the results of captures of British ships by American privateers.

The use of privateers fell by the wayside in the mid 1800's because of a treaty ending the Crimean War in 1856. In a annex to this treaty, the signatories agreed to give up the right to issue such letters and end the use of privateers.

The United States never signed this treaty, so is not bound by it's requirements. Based on the little research that I have done, During the American Civil War and the Spanish American War, the American Government stated that it wound observe the requirement of the treaty, however during World War II a Letter of Marque was issued to a American civilian airship crew to allow them to hunt for submarines.

Even more recently, I understand that Ron Paul has twice suggested that Letters of Marque be issued to deal with terrorist threats. This would allow the U.S. to fight against any such threats without being in danger of being drawn into a larger war.

Once again, we can learn from our past history.

So, who would that be up for a summer vacation like that? Going pirate hunting? -grin-

3 comments:

Chris Grimes said...

Preach on Brother, Preach on!

Brigid said...

I like the letter idea.

I did note that it was said the President ordered the action only AFTER it was successful.

Yeah. Right.

word verif: sadwater. When the U.S. Navy takes out your lifeboat.

Michael W. said...

Chris:

You think I should pass around the collection plate? -grin-

Brigid:

I wish I could take credit for the idea, but as I said, we just keep on forgetting lessons from our history.

However it's a all around winner. It would only cost our government the paper the the letters would cost, they get a cut of whatever goods are recovered, and if the privateers get in a jam, well it's their look out. Everybody makes out, other than the pirates, that is.

As for the light bringer, well success has thousands of fathers, failure is a orphan.-grin-

sadwater. What Somali pirates do when they see one of their buddies taken out by a sniper's bullet.