NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR DISCUSSES SOMALI PIRACY “ENTERPRISES”

April 13, 2009

HARRISONBURG— Today in an invited commentary for “ForeignPolicy.com, the daily online edition of Foreign Policy magazine, Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, discusses the structure of the Somali pirate syndicates.

According to Dr. Pham, “Not only are the Somali pirates well-organized, but they have proven to be highly resilient to changes in the strategic environment.” Despite the number of people are involved in the process, he notes that “some are more susceptible than others to pressure from the international community” and suggests some possible options, including legal moves against the payment of ransoms. Nonetheless, the essay argues that “because piracy has come to play such a huge economic role in communities where the marauders are based, attacking the enterprise requires the building up of local political and security capabilities so as to reduce the extent of the areas of ‘lawlessness’ that the pirates have exploited up to now.”

The commentary concludes:

Undoubtedly, a robust military response like that delivered Sunday by the U.S. Navy to the captors of Captain Phillips (and the French Navy last Friday to the pirates holding the yacht Tanit and its French civilian passengers) will be needed again to deal with pirate actions underway and to deter other potential maritime hijackings. Of course…the various naval efforts need to be better coordinated, if not integrated. Ultimately, however, piracy is far more complex than any naval patrol; it will require more than just the application of force to uproot piracy from the soil of Somalia.

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To read the full text of the article, “The Pirate Economy,” click here.