Somali piracy calls for international action

It is difficult to believe that among the 21st century conflicts that our generation faces – such as the mad dash for alternative energy – that piracy would still be a problem.

But when a nation such as Somalia exists practically without a government, anything is possible. On Sunday, Navy Seals saved Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates after President Barack Obama authorized lethal force if Phillips looked to be in imminent danger. It was an order that was praised by many and criticized by few.

Still, piracy looms not only in the Indian Ocean, but off the coast of Southeast Asia and in the Gulf of Aden, according to Time magazine.

“It is a serious international problem, and it’s probably going to get worse,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in the article.

Piracy is a booming business and shows no sign of slowing down. Why? Somali piracy first appeared in the 1980s as a way to stop illegal fishing and dumping near Somalia in the Indian Ocean, according to CNN reports.

After the fall of the Somali government, hijacking vessels seemed to be a source of revenue that in its early days raised tens of thousands of dollars. Over time the ransom grew to millions of dollars. As long as companies and governments keep paying, piracy will remain a lucrative business.

With the aggressive actions of France and the United States, Somali pirates vow to use lethal force against French and American sailors making open seas even more dangerous.

A collective international effort is needed to limit piracy. It is a problem that will continue to escalate. However, simply killing pirates on sight is not the answer. The international community has had problems with Somalia since former Somali President Ali Mahdi Muhammad overthrew the country’s government in 1991 and now with Ethiopia’s withdrawal of its troops, which arrived two years ago to help expel Islamist forces in Somalia.

The answer is in rebuilding Somalia’s government and teaching the country’s youth that the pirates are hurting their country and preventing it from reaching prosperity. This calls for an international effort.

Alex S. Turner is a freshman political science major from Dallas.