September 29, 2008

HARRISONBURG—Today in a commentary for the New Atlanticist, the new public policy blog of the Atlantic Council of the United States, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, discusses the latest attack by Somali pirates, who late last week seized a Ukrainian-owned, Belizean-registered freighter carrying thirty-three refurbished Russian-made T-72 tanks and millions of dollars’ worth of grenade launchers and other armaments as it neared the Kenyan port of Mombasa, as well as the continuing challenge posed by the attacks which “burgeoned into an international problem affecting literally dozens of countries around the globe.”

While reviewing some possible steps, Dr. Pham nonetheless concludes:

Ultimately, however, the problem of Somali lawlessness at sea cannot be addressed without reference to the ongoing crisis of de facto Somali statelessness on land. Unfortunately, while it may be finally willing to focus on the incidents of piracy, there is still little indication that the international community is either prepared or willing to confront the causes driving the phenomenon.

Founded in 1961 by former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter and others, the Atlantic Council is the American branch of the Atlantic Treaty Association, an international network of organizations in the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization charged with promoting public understanding and support for the policies and institutions that would build collective security and peace. The Atlantic Council—currently chaired by General James L. Jones, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, with Lieutenant General Brent Scowcoft, former National Security Advisor to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, as head of its International Advisory Board—has as its mission to advance “constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in me­eting the international challenges of the 21 st century.” Launched September 8, the New Atlanticist aims to “provide expert analysis on the most pressing issues facing the transatlantic community from the Council's staff, board, affiliated scholars, and friends.”

To read the full text of Dr. Pham’s contribution, “The Challenge of Somali Piracy,” click here.