Feature

Letting the pirates run free

Piracy’s annual toll on the shipping industry is expected to climb another $5 billion, to a total of $15 billion, over the next three years, said Stephen Carter at TheDailyBeast.com.

Stephen CarterTheDailyBeast.com

Two years ago, President Obama and European leaders promised to “halt the rise” of piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, said Stephen Carter. They’ve failed. In the first six months of 2011, attacks on ships by Somali pirates hit a record high; ransoms are up from $150,000 per hijacked ship in 2005 to over $5 million today. Piracy’s annual toll on the shipping industry is expected to climb another $5 billion, to a total of $15 billion, over the next three years. Despite this growing menace, NATO has consistently turned down requests to deploy more battleships to the region. “Why? The Western navies are too busy in Libya.”

This overstretch should serve as a warning to President Obama, who is planning to slice up to $900 billion from the Pentagon’s budget. The U.S. Navy is already reeling under budgetary constraints—20 percent of its vessels aren’t combat-ready, and “half of the Navy’s air fleet is in disrepair.” Any further cuts will make it impossible for the world’s lone superpower to safeguard international sea lanes and protect global trade. We now face a stark choice: Spend what’s needed to defend the seas, or abandon them to gangsters and pirates.

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