Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Letters of marque! 

Ron Paul is sort of a nut, but if he got Congress to issue letters of marque to deal with piracy the sheer constitutional coolness would earn him a warm place in my heart forever. And there are practical advantages, too:

In a YouTube video earlier this week, Paul suggested lawmakers consider issuing letters, which could relieve American naval ships from being the nation’s primary pirate responders — a free-market solution to make the high seas safer for cargo ships.

“I think if every potential pirate knew this would be the case, they would have second thoughts because they could probably be blown out of the water rather easily if those were the conditions,” Paul said.

Theoretically, hiring bounty hunters would also be a cheaper option.

National security experts estimate that this week’s ship captain rescue by Navy SEALs cost tens of millions, although a Navy spokesman says the military cannot confirm the exact cost of the mission.

Instead, privateers would be incentivized to patrol the ocean looking for key targets — and money would be paid only to the contractor who completed the job.

“If we have 100 American wanna-be Rambos patrolling the seas, it’s probably a good way of getting the job done,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow and security expert Eli Lehrer. “Right now we have a Navy designed mostly to fight other navies. The weapons we have are all excellent, but they may not be the best ones to fight these kinds of pirates. The only cost under letters of marque would be some sort of bounty for the pirates.”

There is also this: Licensing bounty-hunting on the high seas would shock statists everywhere, because it would remind the world that even security is first and foremost a private, personal matter. We lost the memory of that in the age of strategic nuclear weapons, but with the jihadi war -- essentially a global insurgency -- and now piracy perhaps it is time we learned that ancient idea all over again.


By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Apr 15, 06:33:00 PM:

That sounds like fun. I guess I'll start another company.  

By Anonymous WLindsayWheeler, at Wed Apr 15, 06:52:00 PM:

I agree. Though U.S. Marines would like that job as well. Station a LHS off the coast of Somalia, instead of landing craft in its hold, a bunch of speed boats with .50 cal machine guns. The LHA also would have Helicopters and Osprey. That would do the job. Whole detachments of Navy Seals and a couple of Marine Battalions would be glad to take on the pirates!  

By Anonymous space commando, at Wed Apr 15, 07:28:00 PM:

You'd better have a solid vetting process, to avoid having pirates play both roles and collect money one way or another.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Wed Apr 15, 08:34:00 PM:

Arm the merchantmen. Small ship to ship missles will do the trick. Those skiffs are loaded with gas.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Wed Apr 15, 08:44:00 PM:

Sorry, Paul's suggestion deserves snark mode:

Clearly, we didn't have enough problems with 100% innocent villagers brought in under the bounty system in Afghanistan.

End snark.

Of course, the smart entrepeneurs will steer clear of actual armed and dangerous pirates, and grab Somali (or Somali-looking) fishermen instead.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Apr 15, 10:44:00 PM:

Of course. Because no one would *ever* catch on.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 16, 09:45:00 AM:

Good idea! Low cost and effective, with well-established controls and traditions grounded in extensive though disused law.  

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