Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Solving the Somail pirate/poaching/dumping problem

Somali piracy isn't one problem. It's at least eight:

1. Seizure of passing ships and crew and holding both for ransom by Somali nationals, often bankrolled by foreigners in places like Dubai.

2. Illegal dumping of toxic wastes in Somali waters by foreign businesses in Europe and elsewhere.

3. Poaching in Somali waters by foreign fishing fleets, often using trawlers that destroy the habitats on the sea floor as well.

4. International law that doesn't adequately cover crimes committed in the territorial waters of failed states like Somali. Oh, and it currently forbids ships from keeping their decks floodlit at night!

5. Navies--very much including ours--that are primarily oriented towards conducting major wars against powerful nations.

6. Fundamental philosophical conflict between those who want to treat Somali piracy as a kind of war vs. those who want to treat it as a kind of crime--that is, do you shoot them or arrest them? And if the latter, where do you take them to be tried? Kenya has agreed to try pirates, but that seems like an ad hoc solution to many.

7. The land the attacks are coming from is no longer a country, but rather a patchwork of feudal holdings and theocratic enclaves.

8. The situation is rapidly becoming much worse as the 10s of millions of dollars of ransom money is going to buy more and more sophisticated arms and other materiel, and as the pirates become more adept at parasitizing the rest of the world and the local communities become more and more oriented around piracy. All this defies simple solutions, but Somali piracy has become so substantial it's actually damaging the world economy, and we have to act.

So here's my solution, which attempts to address all of these issues:

Just as our Army and Air Force are being dragged into the world of assymetrical warfare, so must the Navy. Even destroyers are too big to be used cost-effectively against Somali pirates.

We need several task groups of pocket carriers that fly fleets of small, inexpensive, unarmed UAVs (drones) with a smaller number of killer UAVs and some choppers. The UAV pilots can be located anywhere. For example, the Air Force's UAV pilots work in air-conditioned trailers in Nevada, even when flying missions in Afghanistan.

The task groups would also have the kinds of vessels the Coast Guard uses—far smaller than destroyers, armed with one or two missle launchers, a chain gun and one longer-range gun. These would be fast, light and economical to operate. If these could be equipped with hydrofoils they'd be really fast.

Secure an agreement from the Somali provisional government (there is one, more or less) to let the multinational force act as Somalia's coast guard, tasked with stopping piracy AND international poaching and waste dumping.

Use the UAVs to patrol the Somali coastline and territorial waters. Tell the Somalis that we will stop foreign poaching and dumping—-but we'll also use the UAVs to sink pirate skiffs and motherships, since no other method is cost-effective—-and, consequently, we won't be taking prisoners, since UAVs can't pick up survivors. Give the Somalis a month to get the word out before we start the operation. Pirate skiffs carry far more crew than fishing boats, so even without the guns being visible they're easy to spot. Heck, with gun-mounted UAVs we could even fire a shot across their bows to warn them to turn back if there's a doubt.

On the other hand, we'd use the Coast Guard-type vessels to board and confiscate all foreign ships poaching and dumping in Somalia's territorial waters, and use the sale of such vessels to defray the cost of operations.

Meanwhile we'd work with the UN to get the law of the sea updated to cover such situations and, based on our experience in Somalia, set up similar operations off the shores of other shaky or failed states that lack a Coast Guard.

Note that we can use UAV task groups—either with pocket carriers or land-based---to patrol our own coasts to defend against smuggling and suchlike.

The New York Times' love affair with Mexican peasants

Today the New York Times editorial board ran yet another screed demanding citizenship for illegal aliens. You can read it here (free registration required). The Times ran 165 comments, most strongly opposing the editorial (including nearly all the comments that garnered high reader ratings). Mine got the 17th highest rating. Here it is:

What this editorial didn't say is more interesting than what it did. Basically it was concrete about what we should do for Mexican citizens who are here illegally, but fuzzy about what we should do to keep more from coming.

That's in line with the last "comprehensive immigration reform" passed by Congress in 1986, which combined real amnesty with fake enforcement.

And of course this editorial doesn't mention what happened as a result of the 1986 amnesty: a huge wave of undereducated, unskilled humanity pouring over the border once we'd erected a giant green light over it.

What's the current unemployment rate for undereducated, unskilled Americans? 20%? 30% 40%? Yet it's OK to spit in their faces, I guess. And why not? None of them are on the NYT Editorial Board, nor are they neighbors of the Board's members. Out of sight, out of mind, huh?

The Board could have taken this opportunity to endorse e-Verify, which is quick, simple, accurate, & can actually prevent companies from exploiting illegal immigrant labor to drive down everyone's wages & bust unions.

It could have admitted that the "12 million" illegal alien head count is speculative, since America lacks any kind of universal ID system--the only way we could really tell who's here & how many. The actual number of illegals in this country could be double or triple that. No one knows.

And if the Board ever ventured west of the Hudson to California where I've lived all my life, they might discover that the character of our state has been radically Latinized since the 1986 amnesty. The most-watched TV station in Los Angeles only broadcasts in Spanish, for example.

I mention this not because I hate Mexican culture--in fact I speak Spanish & have traveled in the Mexican countryside extensively. I mention it because I actually like my own American culture. Now the Board, in other editorials, has condemned Americans who like American culture, calling us nativists, as if we're knuckle-dragging xenophobes who break out in hives if we espy a foreigner. Well if so, I've got plenty of company, since at least 2/3 of Americans feel the same way I do.

And since so many do, you'd think the Board would try to address our complaints about the Southwest being turned into an American Quebec. It would endorse e-Verify, Universal ID, & other practical measures to regain control of our demographics. But instead it speaks about the 2/3 with contempt, as it did again in this editorial.

Lastly, the Board didn't mention that in 1940 Mexico had a population of 20 million, which exploded into over 100 million in 2000--vastly more than the Mexican economy can absorb. This is our fault how?

And if we are to admit millions upon millions of immigrants every year, why are we obligated to have most of them Mexican peasants? Why not people of every race & nation who have skills we actually need? Why Mexicans? Darfurians are in far worse straits. Chinese engineers are more useful. What obligation or need requires us to allow Mexico's oligarchs to outsource their home-made population crisis to America?
Not to mention how people trying to immigrate legally will feel once our government lets 10-30 million Mexicans jump the queue.

How did the New York Times Editorial Board's sympathies become limited to just one foreign country's population? In the words of Marvin Gaye, ain't that peculiar?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Somali piracy

1. Right now Secretary of Defense Gates is talking about reconfiguring our military to be able to prosecute asymetrical war more effectively. In the case of the Navy, we need more small fighting vessels and not so many WWIII-appropriate giant multibillion dollar task forces.'

For operations like the one in Somalia we need a new class of very small aircraft carriers that only carry helicopters and UAVs (drones). They don't even need UAV pilots on board. They can be based anywhere in the US.

And we need Coast Guard-type military vessels. Even destroyers like the Bainbridge are overkill for situations like Somalia. Small, fast, seaworthy fighting boats with a couple of chain guns and ship to ship missile launchers (for motherships) would be perfect. We have to make it more cost effective to guard shipping lanes around the world, and the only block today is hidebound career officers in love with big airplanes and big boats and fighting other superpowers. We shake our heads at the Pakistani military's obsession with India while their own Taliban slowly take over their country. We're only a little better. Fortunately, Gates and Obama seem to have their eyes on the ball.

2. The pirates' claims to be be protecting Somali fishing from foreign trawlers is nonsense, since they're mainly taking nonfishing ships. However, it is true that foreign trawlers from Europe and Asia have virtually destroyed Somali fishing--as they've done off the coasts of every country with good fishing and no effective coast guard. We should demand a Law of the Sea that forbids nations from letting their ships pillage defenseless nations' waters, and also empowers UN-authorized naval forces to grab poachers, confiscate their boats, and try their crews in an international court.

We could kill two birds with one stone: interdict both pirates and poachers.

Another plus to patrolling with drones: they can't negotiate with pirates--just sink their boats. The best deterrent to piracy is darkness: pirate boats go out and they don't come back and no one (in Somalia) knows what happened. That's far more effective than warnings.

3. We have to forbid shippers from paying ransoms, and severely fine ones that succeed in doing so. This requires multinational cooperation, but we have to cut off the flow of money to Somali warlord coffers. Ditto arms, most of which are coming from Europe and China, not America, I'll wager.

— Ehkzu, Palo Alto, California

Monday, April 6, 2009

Illegal immigration and the drug war--both insoluble

It's hopeless, because of something right wingers and left wingers have in common: they prefer their fantasy version of reality to the real thing.

Right wingers believe the "war on drugs" is working; that if you tell teenagers not to have sex they won't; that the "war on terror" is a war, and that terror is the just goes on and on.

Left wingers, meanwhile, believe that illegal aliens are "undocumented workers" and that anyone who doesn't want to hand this country over to them might as well be in the Ku Klux Klan.

Both groups can continue to dwell in their alternate realities because they pay no penalty for doing so. College- educated liberal elites aren't losing their jobs to illegal immigrants; the college town schools their kids attend aren't being ruined by barrios of semiliterate peasants; the districts they live in aren't having our culture replaced by Mexican culture. This isn't multiculturalism--it's ethnic cleansing, block by block, across the Southwest. It's gotten so bad in parts of LA that blacks are being murdered by illegal alien gangbangers who are latinizing neighborhoods that were once black neighborhoods.

Likewise the right wingers can live in denial of the ruinous consequences of the "war on drugs." Their drug of choice--alcohol--is perfectly legal, despite being vastly more toxic than most of the drugs the kids take. And their kids aren't taking drugs, or having sex, because, well, they just aren't. And those college binge drinking parties? Not my little Johnny. Nossir.

Meanwhile both sides ignore one simple, critical, verifiable statistic: in 1940 there were 20 million Mexicans, and Mexican immigrants represented less than .5% of the American population. By 2000 there were over 100 million Mexicans--waaay more than the Mexican economy could absorb--and millions were pouring over our border.

How did their population explode without significant immigration? Simple. A potent mix of importing some Western medicine into a country dominated by a backward religion that opposes all forms of contraception and even calls condoms murder.

And guess what? America didn't do it. When China saw what was happening, they instituted their "one child" policy--which liberals, warm-hearted and empty-headed as usual, have been complaining about ever since. But that's why China's population hasn't exploded, which most of the third world has--very much including Mexico.

And of course Mexico's overpopulation has put literally millions of young men on the streets. Where do you think the drug gangs and the cartels get their foot soldiers? Few would be tempted if Mexican village life were still intact. But the population explosion has severely damaged that.

Want to help Mexico? Support funding Planned Parenthood clinics across Mexico, giving free condoms and abortions.

Instead, both the Democratic and Republican leaderships support turning America into a dumping ground for Mexico's overpopulation--the Demos to pander to people with American citizenship who still regard themselves as Mexicans; the Republicans to pander to the boss class who just luv that cheap scab labor. And Meanwhile the backward religion that dominates Mexico wants to do the same to us, so it's constantly interfering in American government at all levels to accomplish that end.

And if it does, then it can give us the same laws Latin American countries enjoy, where a 12 year old girl raped by her father is forced to bear the child instead of getting a therapeutic abortion.

The cosmic joke is that most right wingers, left wingers and Catholics mean well. Hence the saying "the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions."