The International Maritime Organization makes an American politician proud. It agilely straddles the fence while testing the waters, keeping a foot in each camp, bending an ear to the rail and watching the political storm clouds.
That dull thud you just heard was the anticipated statement on the carriage of armed guards on our ships.
The IMO response is not helpful. It does little. As Sherlock Holmes once pointed out, it is completely accurate and completely useless. It may be harmful because the point is missed and piracy goes onwith its kidnappings, ransoms, deaths and tortures of our seafarers.
When will the IMO get it? The number of ship transiting pirate waters in northeastern Africa is large. The number of attacks and captures is small. The success rate of the attackers is substantial. Why? Pirates go for the low-hanging fruit. Easy pickings are easy money and there is a lot of fruit nowadays.
Pirates, however, are cowards. They do not like to get shot. They like to go back home and enjoy the cash largesse. If one is dead it is hard to enjoy the largesse. If one is a pirate, however, and the likelihood of being shot is substantial — it only takes one marksman and one bullet — it is rationally likely that one will be very careful in investigating a target.
Flight will be the first line of defence at resistance. Citadels? Navies? Electric shocks? Lasered eyes? Water cannons? Razorwire? Loud noises? Interesting, ineffective and usually from the imaginations of people who have no idea about maritime realities. And they are costly. What works on the cheap? Private armed guards.
This is the rule: some 80% of the fire in an infantry fixed engagement suppresses the enemy. It does not kill or wound him. That means that the infantryman in the foxhole is interested in getting back home to enjoy the largesse of his government for his selfless service. One cannot do that if one is dead.
Soldier life insurance is cold comfort in the foxhole, although itmay bewelcomed in its consequences back home. One chooses not to be grievously wounded either. It is risky, one may not survive for long and it hurts a lot.
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