Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Heritage Foundation study on piracy

I call to your attention another useful report that deals with Somali piracy titled "Maritime Security: Fighting Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Beyond," published by the Heritage Foundation on June 24, 2009. You can access the report (in PDF format) here. It is unfortunate that this otherwise excellent study released in mid-2009 only has statistical data through 2007. I also found a couple of the recommendations a little strange. For example, the report calls for "expanding the Navy's stated goal of raising its number of ships from 277 to 313 (the majority of the additional 36 should be nuclear powered, including additional nuclear-powered submarines) and focusing Navy operations more on sea control and assured access, less on maritime engagement and security missions." I am not sure I see much of a connection between reducing piracy and adding more nuclear-powered submarines to the U.S. fleet. On the other hand, shifting the U.S. military contribution from the Navy to the Coast Guard and expanding the Coast Guard, as the report recommends, makes a lot of sense. The report correctly urges that the international community focus on helping Somalis to reestablish governance. On the other hand, the recommendation that the United States should support a "grassroots model" of governance in Somalia is a little too facile. The report is on target when it urges the United States to support the UN Security Council in demanding international respect for Somalia's Exclusive Economic Zone and related conventions that bar the dumping of toxic wastes.

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