As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bring On The Privateers

Ron Paul has a supa-awsom plan to stop piracy off the Somalian coast - Hessians! Fuckin' Rambo armed to the teeth Hessians!

A little-known congressional power could help the federal government keep the Somali pirates in check — and possibly do it for a discount price.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and a growing number of national security experts are calling on Congress to consider using letters of marque and reprisal, a power written into the Constitution that allows the United States to hire private citizens to keep international waters safe.

Used heavily during the Revolution and the War of 1812, letters of marque serve as official warrants from the government, allowing privateers to seize or destroy enemies, their loot and their vessels in exchange for bounty money.

The letters also require would-be thrill seekers to post a bond promising to abide by international rules of war.

We're supposed to dangle money as a kind of X Prize to get mercenaries to do the work of the foreign policy apparatus? Because private military contractors in Iraq worked out so well? And isn't Ron Paul the guy who doesn't want the federal treasury spending one penny?

Aha, but he has a cunning plan. You see, the privateers would get to keep the treasure they get from the pirates. That sweet, sweet treasure.

But privateering was essentially government licensed piracy. Say, we're at war with the French. Congress gives me a letter of marque and then I have the US government's permission to go out and capture French ships on the high seas. I then bring the French ship back to a 'prize court' and if everything's in order, it's mine and I get to sell it [...]

Now, there are a few problems with this. But here's the big one. Are you going to fit out a a group of small armed warships in order to vie for the chance of bringing in and being able to sell off some inflatable motor boats piloted by a few Somali 'pirates'? Maybe you could even sell one of their outboard motors on Craiglist?

Now, this think tank conservative from the Competitive Enterprise Institute recognizes that the pirates have no treasure, and they would have to be subsidized with bountys (which I'm sure would result in a very competitive bidding process). But he thinks it's a snappy idea anyway!

“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.”

This is the same type of corporate lobbyist trying desperately to get Robert Gates to keep the military budget bloated and focused on massive weaponry, even though the challenges of the 21st-century are increasingly failed states and pirates.

Conservative logic is so convoluted it makes my head hurt. But I gather that Ron Paul actually believes this stuff. He thinks the "free market" has a better chance of stopping pirates than actually addressing the root causes of piracy.

Remember, he got more votes than Rudy Giuliani, and he kicked off this tea party movement.

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