U.S. Aircraft and Elite Navy SEALs Defeat Three Somalis in a Lifeboat
What a weekend for American foreign policy! The United States Navy, backed up by warships from 20 other nations, knocked off three Somali guys crouching with rifles in a lifeboat tied by a rope to a U.S. destroyer. To hear the U.S. corporate media tell it, the Americans had won a huge victory over the forces of evil. The sole surviving Somali was in custody—a 16-year-old who essentially gave himself up, earlier, after being hurt in a scuffle with the American cargo ship captain who is now celebrated as a hero of the seven seas and defender of United States national honor.
There is something obscene about a superpower whose media and population find great satisfaction, and some sick form of national catharsis, every time they manage to overcome a weak and desperate opponent.
Some dreaded seagoing Somalis began taking up piracy in 1991, when the Somali government disintegrated and there was no one to patrol the country’s coasts. About the same time, and not coincidentally, commercial fishing fleets from around the world took advantage of the lack of a Somali coast guard, to steal every fish they could find in Somali waters. That’s “robbery on the high seas,” the definition of piracy. An estimated $300 million worth of Somali sea life is pirated by foreigners every year.
Other kinds of pirates nowadays often leave something behind—the piratical poisonous waste dumpers. They seem to be mafia-connected outfits that dump the radioactive waste from European hospitals into Somali waters, along with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals of all kinds. A survey by the Somali news agency Wardheer News shows that 70 percent of Somalis “strongly supported piracy as a form of national defense of the country’s territorial waters.”
Having seen their coastal waters pirated by foreigners since 1991, Somalis were then forced to endure the land and air piracy of the Ethiopians and the United States, who collaborated in late 2006 to invade the country and oust the only relatively effective government Somalia had had in 15 years. Occupied by Ethiopia with the backing of the American superpower, Somalis were stripped of the last thing they had on land or sea—their national sovereignty. The foreign super-pirates had taken everything.
But the Somalis kept fighting back, anyway, driving out the Ethiopians and making the Americans fume with rage. The Somalis refused to roll over and die, or beg. Black U.S. Congressman Donald Payne’s airplane was targeted by mortars when he visited Somalia’s ravaged capital, Mogadishu, over the weekend. Payne opposed the U.S.-Ethiopia invasion of Somalia, but some of the Islamist fighters battling for control of the country may not make distinctions among the foreigners who pass through or over their land—and who can blame them?
Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, a young Black woman named Susan Rice, is positively rabid when it comes to beating Somalia into submission. She was more gung-ho for the U.S.-Ethiopian invasion than George Bush. Susan Rice is no doubt searching for a military solution to Somali piracy—which would amount to more piracy by the same foreigners that have driven Somalis to such desperate measures.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford, BAR Executive Editor
—Black Agenda Report, April 15, 2009