(bumped up from late afternoon – Editor)
Remember how we heard ad nauseam that Bill Clinton’s limped wristed response to Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the US embassies in east Africa in August 1998 and the USS Cole in October 2000 paved the road for 9-11? Well, if it is good for the goose it is good for the gander.
Starting in 2006 pirate activity off the coast of Somalia escalated dramatically. Hundreds of ships have been taken and tens of millions of dollars in ransom paid.
And what did the Bush Administration do?
Not a goddamn thing. The piracy was allowed to go on virtually unchecked. The United States chose to ignore it because it was not “terrorism.” So blowhards like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Marc Levin and others of their ilk can and should “Shut the Fuck Up!” Did you ever hear them blame Bush and company for going soft on piracy? Hell no.
In 2008 there was a worldwide total of 293 incidents of piracy against ships, which is up more than 11% from 2007 when there were 263 incidents reported. In 2008, 49 vessels were hijacked, 889 crew taken hostage and a further 46 vessels reported being fired upon. A total of 32 crew members were injured, 11 killed and 21 missing – presumed dead. Guns were used in 139 incidents, up from 72 in 2007.
The increase is attributed to the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden with 111 incidents reported on the east coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The rise peaked in September with 19 attacks. In October and November there were 15 and 16 vessels attacked respectively. This is an increase of nearly 200% from 2007. In addition, 2008 saw the largest tanker ever being hijacked by Somali pirates, and successful attacks being carried out at greater distances from land than in previous years. All types of vessels with varying freeboards and speeds were targeted. The pirates boarding the vessels were also better armed than in previous years and prepared to assault and injure the crew.
“We are encouraged by recent efforts to tackle Somali piracy and hope that more governments will continue to devote more assets to the region. International navies are the only ones capable of effective response against piracy in the region and can help to secure the safety and security of this major maritime trade route,” said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the ICC International Maritime Bureau.
Nigeria ranked second in the report with 40 reported incidents including 27 vessels boarded, five hijackings and 39 crew members kidnapped. The PRC is also aware of approximately 100 further unconfirmed incidents that have occurred in Nigeria. Under-reporting from vessels involved in incidents in the Nigerian waters remains a great concern.
I may not be a fan of Obama but blaming the Obama Administration for this stinking turd of a mess off the coast of Somalia is ludicrous. Bush and Cheney ignored the piracy and, surprise of surprises, a gang of impoverished thugs discovered they could make millions of dollars for simply capturing a ship and demanding a ransom. Bush and Cheney talked a good game about fighting terrorists but when it came to piracy, they looked the other way.
It is now up to President Obama to decide whether he will continue to act like George Bush or will actually put a policy in place.