Civilization walks the plank

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A Somali pirate and a former US defense secretary are flying to London for vacation. One of them is stopped at immigration at Heathrow airport and arrested  on suspicion of committing war crimes. Which one do you think it was?

On Tuesday, Somali pirates, sailing in little more than motorized bathtubs, armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, and sustained by raw fish and narcotics, successfully hijacked the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned oil tanker the size of a US aircraft carrier. The tanker was carrying some $100 million worth of crude oil. News of its capture caused global oil prices to rise by a dollar a barrel.

The next day, Somali pirates attempted to hijack the Trafalgar, a British frigate, but were forced to flee by a German naval helicopter dispatched to the scene. They did manage to hijack a Chinese trawler and a cargo ship from Hong Kong. They nearly got control of an Ethiopian ship, but it, too, was saved by the German Navy that heeded its call for help in time.

Piracy is fast emerging as the newest old threat to stage a comeback in recent years. Over the past week and a half alone, 12 vessels have been hijacked. And according to the International Maritime Bureau, in the three months that ended on September 30, Somali pirates attacked 26 vessels, capturing 576 crew members. Britain's Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) assesses the ransoms they netted at between $18m. and $30m.

And with financial strength comes increased military sophistication. The US Navy expressed shock at the pirates' successful hijacking of the Sirius Star. The pirates staged the hijacking much farther from shore than they had ever done previously.

Beyond the personal suffering incurred by thousands of crew members taken hostage in recent years, piracy's potential impact on global economic stability is enormous. In the Gulf of Aden, where the Somali pirates operate, US shippers alone transport more than $1.5 trillion in cargo annually.

One of the unique characteristics of pirates is that they appear to be equal opportunity aggressors. They don't care who owns the ships they attack. On August 21, Somali pirates hijacked the Iran Deyanat, a ship owned and operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards-linked Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL). In September, the US Treasury Department designated IRISL as a company that assists Iran's nuclear weapons program and placed it under stiff financial sanctions.

Iran Deyanat's manifest asserted that its cargo included minerals. Yet shortly after the pirates went on board they began developing symptoms such as hair loss that experts claim are more in line with radiation exposure. According to reports, some 16 pirates died shortly after being exposed to the cargo. Just this week, a second Iranian ship – this one apparently carrying wheat – was similarly captured.

Then, too, in September, pirates seized the Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 Russian-made T-72 tanks. The Ukrainians and Russians claimed that the tanks were destined for Kenya, but it later emerged that they may have been seized en route to Sudan. So, ironically, in the case of both the Faina and the Deyanat, pirates may have inadvertently saved thousands of lives.

THE INTERNATIONAL community is at a loss for what to do about the emerging danger of piracy. This is not due to lack of capacity to fight the pirate ships. On Monday an Indian naval frigate, the INS Tabar, sank a pirate "mother ship" whose fleet members were attacking the Tabar in the Gulf of Aden. NATO has deployed a naval task force while the American, French, German and other navies have aggressively worked to free merchant ships under attack by pirates.

As David Rivkin and Lee Casey explained in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, the problem with contending with piracy is not so much military, as legal and political. Whereas customary international law defined piracy as a threat against all nations and therefore a crime for which universal jurisdiction must be applied to perpetrators, in today's world, states are unwilling to apprehend pirates or to contend with them because they are likely to find themselves in a sticky legal mess.

In centuries past, in accordance with established international law, it was standard practice for naval captains to hang pirates after capturing them. Today, when Europe has outlawed capital punishment, when criminal defendants throughout the West are given more civil rights than their victims, and when irregular combatants picked off of battlefields or intercepted before they attack are given – at a minimum – the same rights as those accorded to legal prisoners of war, states lack the political will and the moral clarity to prosecute offenders. As Casey and Rivkin note, last April the British Foreign Office instructed the British Navy not to apprehend pirates lest they claim that their human rights were harmed, and request and receive asylum in Britain.

THE WEST'S perverse interpretations of human rights and humanitarian law, which bar it from handling one of the most acute emerging threats to the international economy, is a consequence of the West's abdication of moral and legal sanity in its dealings with international terror. In the 1960s and 1970s, when international terrorism first emerged as a threat to international security, the West adopted international treaties and conventions that tended to treat terrorism as a new form of piracy. Like piracy, terrorism was to be treated as an attack on all nations. Jurisdiction over terrorists was to be universal. Such early views were codified in early documents such as the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft from 1970 that established a principle of universal jurisdiction over aircraft hijackers.

Similarly, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, the UN Security Council passed binding Resolution 1373, which also compelled member states not only to treat terrorists as illegal combatants who must be universally denied any support of any kind, but to take action against anyone involved with or supporting terrorists in any way. That is, as in piracy, the tendency of states contending with terrorism has been to view it as an act requiring universal jurisdiction, compelling all UN member states to prosecute offenders.

And yet, over the years, states have managed to ignore or invert international laws on terrorism to the point where today terrorists are among the most protected groups of individuals in the world. Due to political sympathy for terrorists, hostility toward their victims, or fear of terrorist reprisals against a state that dares to prosecute terrorists found on its territory, states have managed to avoid not only applying existing laws against terrorists. They have also refrained from updating laws to meet the growing challenges of terrorism. Instead, international institutions and "enlightened" Western states have devoted their time to condemning and threatening to prosecute the few states that have taken action against terrorists.

The inversion of international law from an institution geared toward protecting states and civilians from international lawbreakers to one devoted to protecting international menaces from states and their citizens is nowhere more evident than in the international community's treatment of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

One of the reasons the international community has failed so abjectly to take reasonable measures to combat terrorism is because international terrorism as presently constituted is the creation of Palestinian Arabs and their Arab brethren. Since the 1960s, and particularly since the mid-1970s, Europe, and to varying degrees the US, have been averse to contending with terrorism because their hostility toward Israel leads them to condone Palestinian Arab terrorism against the Jewish state.

THE INTERNAT
IONAL community's treatment of Hamas-controlled Gaza epitomizes this victory of politics over law. Both the US and the EU have labeled Hamas a terror group. That designation places Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, under the regime of UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

Among other things, Resolution 1373 requires states to "freeze without delay funds and other financial assets or economic resources of… entities owned or controlled directly or indirectly by [terrorists]."

That is, the resolution requires UN member states to end all financial and other support for Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The resolution also requires UN member states to "cooperate [with other states] to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks and take action against perpetrators of such acts."

This means that states are required to assist one another – and in the case of Hamas, to assist Israel – in combating Hamas and punishing its members and supporters.

While it can be argued that given the absence of a binding legal definition of terrorism, states that do not designate Hamas as a terrorist organization are not required to abide by the terms of 1373 in dealing with Hamas, it is quite clear that for states that do recognize Hamas as a terror group, 1373's provisions must be upheld.

And yet, the EU and the US have willfully ignored its provisions. They have steadily increased their budgetary support for the Palestinian Authority while knowing full well that the Fatah-led PA in Judea and Samaria is transferring money to Hamas-controlled Gaza to pay the salaries of Hamas employees.

More disturbingly, the US and the EU as well as the UN demand that Israel itself sustain Hamas-controlled Gaza economically. The UN, EU and the US have consistently demanded that Israel provide Gaza with fuel, food, water, medicine, electricity, telephone service, port services and access to Israeli markets, in spite of the fact that international law actually prohibits Israel from providing such assistance, and in fact arguably requires Israel to deny it.

Recently, supported by the UN, and in connivance with Hamas, European leaders began supporting illegal moves to end Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza, which was established to block weapons and terror personnel from entering and exiting the area. Expanding this trend, this week Navanethem Pillay, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, perversely calling the blockade a breach of international and humanitarian law.

This inversion of the aims of international law – from protecting states and innocent civilians from attack to protecting aggressors from retaliation – has brought about the absurd situation where terrorist ideologues and commanders such as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi are feted in Britain while retired Israeli and American generals are threatened with arrest. Germany welcomed Iranian President and genocide proponent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit and indicted former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld for crimes against humanity. Belgium allows Hamas and Hizbullah supporters like Dyab Abu Jahjah, who calls for attacks against Jews, to operate freely, but indicted former prime minister Ariel Sharon for crimes against humanity.

The consequence of this absurd state of affairs is obvious. The international law champions who argue that international humanitarian law provides a nonviolent means for nations to defend themselves against aggressors have perverted the purpose and meaning of international humanitarian law to such a degree that the only way for nations to protect themselves against pirates, terrorists and other international rogues is to ignore international law aficionados and secure their interests by force.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

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8 Comments

  • Marc Handelsman, USA 11/21/2008 at 19:51

    The reason why a Somali “tidy bowl” boat can hijack a supertanker with impunity is because the West is scared to death of offending jihadists. The Somali pirates are mostly jihadists who have figured out that Western resolve is more like a “paper tiger.” The EU and the US have little interest in reestablishing order in Somalia, so the price of indifference is a resurgence of piracy. The worst thing would be for pirates to steal a nuclear weapon and extort concessions.

    Reply
  • marcel cousineau 11/21/2008 at 20:32

    A sticky legal mess ?
    It’s just more evidence of the daily stink and decay of western civilization.
    America is the latest Empire to jettison her moral anchor and wrongly assume to remain high and mighty.
    Everybody can see it,except for the proud fools who assume we got whre we were by ourselves.
    The handwriting on the wall.
    A now cursed and perverted America is more concerned in outdoing Sodom and Gomorrah is rotting out in the open for all to see.
    The once grad lady who understuood where her greatness came from is rapidly dying the death of a thousand cuts while the sheeple headed for slaughter shout ‘yes we can’ The height of amoral arrogance has sealed the doom of another Empire which failed to learn from history
    Even the pirates no longer fear the lumbering and tottering giant living and breathing it’s last hours on credt from her enemies.
    We became a great nation by divine intervention and blesing from above,a blessing we have completely rejected having set ourselves up on the throne where God once sat.
    .Israel suffers from this same cancer of the brain where human pride always leads to suffering and great disaster.It’s no wonder Israel’s blind leaders have religiously ignored God and been so dependant on the worthless International Decayed Community. This is evil Israel has embraced which she must break free of before it is too late. Better to please God than a billion insane fools.
    It’s only a matter of time before Israel drops her International masters,idols and god’s for their true God. Hopefully the fools who now rule Israle will be strung up by the petatrds and replaced with more sane souls who understand that it is God who rules in the affairs of men and it is He who raises up the meek and humble and brings down the high and lofty, proud fools. It’s time to stop imitating the collapsing west and return to your true roots.
    Caroline,I took the liberty of adding to your last comment.
    ‘ ignore international law and secure Israel’s interests by force’ because international law is only enforced against Israel and no one else will come to your rescue.
    Rafik Harirre -the UN gave Syria’s bashar a pass for his crime of assassination
    Darfur Sudans crimes against humanity gey a pass while all the world cries out against Israel for the condition of the terrorist led Gazan’s
    No outcry against Hamas for their rockets and mortars on Isralei cities ,only the Jews are singled out for ‘special treatment’.
    WAKE UP, The walls of the ghetto are once again being sealed tight using international manure also known as twisted law.
    For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?
    Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?
    Job 31:2-3
    Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,
    That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.
    Job 21:30

    Reply
  • Cantbelievemyeyesandears 11/22/2008 at 0:41

    Who would have ever imagined that prosperity in the West would give birth to masochism on such a grand scale?

    Reply
  • Timothy Kriete For Israel Forever More AMEN 11/22/2008 at 2:18

    Dear Caroline Glick My Precious Holy Spirit
    Is Is True That Saudi Super Tanker Is On Sale On E-Bay By Those Somali Pirates??? ROFL……:):):):):):):) I Am
    Praying Without Ceasing That ALL THOSE SOMALI
    PIRATES DONATE ALL THE MONEY THEY GET TO FEED
    THE HUNGRY AND THE POOR IN ALL NATIONS OF AFRICA
    TO GIVE GLORY TO THE NAME OF THE HOLY ONE OF
    ISRAEL FOREVER MORE, THEN ACCEPTS JUDAISM AS
    THEIR FAITH BY THEIR OWN WILLFUL CHOICE VIA
    HOLY SPIRIT CIRCUMCISION OF THEIR HEARTS AMEN.
    The LORD Is Allowing
    EVIL TO BANKRUPT THEM AMEN! Saudi “Peace Plan”
    Huh??? PUHHHHHHHLEAZEEEEEEE…The Ways Of Those
    Whom Serve The Evil One Are NOT New, ALL Their
    LYING Tongues SHALL SURELY BEAR WITNESS AGAINST
    THEM, THE TRUTH OF THE LORD OUR GOD ENDURETH
    FOREVER MORE AMEN…..Thy Servant And Brother
    For ZION’S SAKE (Isaiah 62 AMEN) Timothy Kriete
    MARCEL, MARCEL KEEP ON SOUNDING THE SHOFAR ALSO
    MY BROTHER FOR ZION’S SAKE, TOGETHER YOU AND OUR
    PRECIOUS SISTER CAROLINE GLICK ARE MUCH, MUCH
    MORE EFFECTIVE AT SOUNDING THE SHOFAR FOR
    ZION’S SAKE, AND FOR JERUSALEM’S SAKE NEVER
    EVER BE SILENT AMEN…Praise Ye The LORD AMEN.

    Reply
  • Ron Grandinetti, USA 11/22/2008 at 4:37

    The law and equal justice. What a pair. Whatever happened to these two? They could no doubt win “Dancing with the Stars” hands down.
    Of course this is the real world. Now they only dance to the tune of a few Nations. None of which is Israel.
    You notice the so called leaders and influential coming to the aid of PA and Hamas. Poor souls, is Israel picking on you again. Shame on you Israel, is that any way to treat those nice tenants of the Gaza Strip?
    I have a good idea, why not move the PA, Hamas and associates to Dubai. Correct me, if I am wrong but I understand that Jews are not permitted or allowed or to do business there. In that case they would certainly be safe. They were made for each other. By the way I can’t understand why we (U.S.) are doing any business with them. If our friend is not welcomed, then we are likewise not welcomed.
    Wake up Israel. As Bill O’Reilly would say, “Who is looking after the folks”?
    Election is not far off and it should be a priority of the citizens to move to the right. Now more so than ever before this Nation needs a rightwing and conservative leadership.
    No more negotiations with the enemy who want to destroy you. The only peace they are interested in is the piece of territory you occupy.
    When the so called good neighbors distance themselves from the various terrorist organizations, outlawing and disarming them, then and only then talks should be considered.
    God be with you.

    Reply
  • ex-dissident 11/23/2008 at 1:55

    well, we have a president elect in the united states who is exempt from law-in fact he was not even eligible to run in this election: 1. there is no proof that he was born in USA. 2. even if he was, he became a malasyan citizen and this was at a time when dual citizenship was unlawful. Therefore, he needed to cancel his citizenship of USA, and later to request American citizenship again.
    Very Orwelian times we live in-we have all become equal citizens of the world, but some are more equal than others. Well, laws which only apply to some, should apply to none, and consequently we now live in a lawless society. Where is the Lone Ranger of 21st century?

    Reply
  • Bill K. 11/23/2008 at 7:48

    If the West in general and the United States in particular had a rational culture they would be on the ascent instead of in decline as they presently are. How would a rational society handle the Somali pirate problem?
    The first thing to do would be to objectively evaluate the threat. Are the Somali pirates a genuine threat or something blown way out of proportion? In this case there would be little doubt that repeated piracy on the high seas cannot be tolerated for an instant longer. The second point is what must be done about it. Destroying pirates in the act of predation is a must but it is a piecemeal solution and will not solve the problem. Destroy one pirate ship and another will take its place. See Netanyahu’s Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic And International Terrorism. The only real solution is to destroy the pirates base. The Navy is instructed to cruise up and down the Somali coast and blast to smithereens any vessel larger than a rowboat. If necessary land the Marines to finish the job of ensuring that the Somalis will not put to sea for any reason for a long time. The Somali pirate problem would be over and pirates elsewhere would have learned a valuable lesson about what happens when their betters resort to force.
    In this rational universe there would be no kow-towing to that citadel of hypocrisy, the United Nations, “international law”, whatever the hell that is, would be of no consideration whatsoever, the human rights of the pirates never come up at all since this military matter and not a legal dispute and there would be no whining about the suffering of the “innocents” in Somalia because each and every one of us is eventually responsible for the government or lack thereof of our countries.
    Israel is besieged by the U.N., “international law”, and, yes, even the United States because Israel allows it. It is called the sanction of the victim:
    “Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality—and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that evil was impotent—that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real—and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it. Just as the parasites around me were proclaiming their helpless dependence on my mind and were expecting me voluntarily to accept a slavery they had no power to enforce, just as they were counting on my self-immolation to provide them with the means of their plan—so throughout the world and throughout men’s history, in every version and form, from the extortions of loafing relatives to the atrocities of collectivized countries, it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers, who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and for their own values—the impotence of death. I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was “No.”
    http://www.aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/sanctionofthevictim.html

    Reply
  • marcel cousineau 11/24/2008 at 17:25

    Hear O Israel
    http://averyheavystone.blogspot.com/2008/11/hear-o-israel.html

    Reply

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