Saturday, May 30, 2009

The End of Assembly Line War

By explaining the end of manufacturing jobsRobert Reich thereby also provides an explanation for Fourth Generation Warfare:
"Any job that's even slightly routine is disappearing from the U.S. But this doesn't mean we are left with fewer jobs. It means only that we have fewer routine jobs, including traditional manufacturing. When the U.S. economy gets back on track, many routine jobs won't be returning -- but new jobs will take their place.....

The reason they're so easy to overlook is that so much of the new value added is invisible. A growing percent of every consumer dollar goes to people who analyze, manipulate, innovate and create. These people are responsible for research and development, design and engineering. Or for high-level sales, marketing and advertising. They're composers, writers and producers. They're lawyers, journalists, doctors and management consultants. I call this 'symbolic analytic' work because most of it has to do with analyzing, manipulating and communicating through numbers, shapes, words, ideas."


According to current theorists, while the United States today continues to muck around in the Third or even the Second Generation of Warfare, the world is racing ahead into the Fourth or even Fifth Generation. This American backwardness has caused such recent reverses as Iraq and Afghanistan, they assert, adding that - in order to succeed - the US military should progress to a higher generation.

All of which begs the question of why the United States has remained so persistently mired in the Second or Third Generation and why - despite numerous reversals - it has been so difficult to budge.

This difficulty, we would assert, comes not from the military culture but rather from the culture of the greater American society which envelops it. The 20th century United States was the paradigmatic Second or Third Generation society. What was good for General Motors was good for America. Its military reflected this underlying ethos. It is no coincidence that the ranks of the volunteer military have largely come from the blue collar communities that once worked at the steel mill.

But increasingly, this underlying ethos is coming under attack. The current recession is an economic symptom of this attack just as much as the so-called War on Terror is a military symptom. Reich details this economic attack. Reich does not use this vocabulary, but what he is saying is that tomorrow's workforce will require Fourth and Fifth generation type skills rather than the Second and Third type that the United States will rely upon.

Will the United States succeed? Can the American public acquire these new skills more effectively than, say, the Belgian, the Algerian, or the Paraguayan?

Should you or I care? Would it not be more appropriate to network with Fourth and Fifth generation skilled individuals regardless of nationality rather than to waste resources shoring up the sinking nation-state?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Take That, SEC!

Current investment advice:

"But maybe we can learn a little something from Italy's Mafia. Organized crime is not only lucrative, but also highly cash-based. That means that while many companies around the world are struggling under the weight of bank loans, Mafia-owned companies are flush with cash. As Bloomberg recently put it, they're 'breezing through economic hard times.'"

Fox Attempts to Guard Henhouse

A security firm that had been formed for only two days recently met with President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana.

First reports of Yahuda Security Management Consulting, "a top United Kingdom security firm," surfaced on Tuesday, May 19.

Reportedly:
They would discuss with national security officials wide-ranging security matters, international trade in drugs including cocaine, illegal arms, armed robbery and links to possible terrorism.

and
As part of the visit, the team would hold high level discussion with officials of the security agencies, explore credible ways for collaboration, and organise a two-day security workshop in Accra.


However, by Thursday, May 21, London-based Ghanaians had determined that this "top" security firm had been incorporated only the day before, Wednesday, May 20.

While Ghana's government did not enter into any contract in this instance, critics have stated this episode reveals a need "to crosscheck the background of people who book appointments to see the President, especially the foreign ones, to ascertain whether they are genuine business people in the field they are claiming to be experts in."

What's Wrong With American Education

"As long as education is driven by technocratic imperatives and the tyranny of the practical, our students will fail to acknowledge that precious goal of Socrates: To know thyself -- and so your own limits and those of your country as well."

So asserts William Astore in his post, "Educating Ourselves to Oblivion," over at TomDispatch.com

As such, Astore is contributing to the long line of laments against the American educational system dating from at least 1980 and probably a good deal earlier. Astore thinks that current American academe is training rather than educating its students, so they cannot use critical reasoning to challenge authority.

Would that Astore himself would exercise some critical reasoning - for it does not follow from the proposition that critical reasoning is valuable or even necessary that therefore current higher educational institutions - with their huge rates of tuition - are the venue in which to impart such skills.

Indeed Socrates himself, whom Astore cites, illustrates this point. Socrates did not sit in any sort of university chair nor did he charge anything for his services. Rather, Socrates criticized the sophists, who were attempting to sell their skills. He roamed Athens' agora or attended dinner parties, symposia, where he would engage in ad hoc dialogues with those whom he happened to meet.

I suspect, were he alive today, that he would be denied tenure. After all, he never published anything.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shipping Companies Going Bankrupt

"More than half of the shipping companies with stock exchange listings could slide into bankruptcy or administration proceedings in the next year as their cash drains away, a senior industry figure has warned."

We can predict that, as their financial troubles increase, their susceptibility to smuggling efforts will likewise increase.

Bloomberg: Mafia's Power Waxes in Italy

Bloomberg contributes to a growing refrain throughout this blog, that Italy's organized crime syndicates, the cash-rich Cosa Nostra, the 'Ndrangheta, and the Camorra are exploiting the economic downturn to increase their grip on Italy.

Interesting factoids:

  • Italian organized crime overall boast twice the annual profits of Exxon Mobil.
  • Italian banks, weakened by the downturn, are decreasing their vigilance against money laundering.
  • The 500 euro note ( worth about $690 ) has become the item of choice for smuggling cash. It has been used as far afield as Columbia and Mexico.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Serbia's Costa del Sol


Serbia apparently is developing an answer to Spain's legenday Costa del Sol, the "Costa del Crime," to whence British and other gangsters would escape to live a life of luxury.

(Recently, Raffaele Amato, Camorra cocaine kingpin, was arrested while hiding in the Costa del Sol.)

According to Balkan Insight, the Serbian resort town of Zlatibor and other resort towns have become havens for Serbian organized crime.

According to Wikipedia:

Situated at an altitude of just over 1,000 meters, Zlatibor is a climatic resort, characterized by a cool mountain climate, clean air, long periods of sunshine during the summer and a heavy snow cover in winter. Tourist facilities include modern hotels, holiday centers and cottages, sports grounds and skiing.

Medical services are provided by the staff of the Special Institute for the Prevention and Treatment of Thyroid Gland Disorders and the Rehabilitation of Patients. Modern methods of treatment are being utilized, including ultrasound techniques, stimulator's, diathermy and iodized and galvanic baths.

Notable successes have been achieved in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of different kinds and stages of thyroid gland diseases.


It is no coincidence that resort towns attract organized crime. A cash intensive business, tourism facilitates money laundering.

Other towns reported to be in Serbia's newly emerging Costa del Sol include Novi Sad, Palic, Kopaonik, Vrnjacka Banja, and Subotica.


Wikipedia
provided the photograph in this post.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Northern Kosovo Protests Border Gates

On May 22, in North Kosovo there was a protest against two border gates between North Kosovo and Serbia proper. The road to these gates was also blocked.

Reportedly, "The organizers stated that their intention was to prevent [European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX)] officials passing through Zubin Potok to take over the shift of their colleagues in the border gates and 'not allow them to implement the customs process.'"

This incident supports our prediction that the ethnic Serb majority of North Kosovo would undermine these border gates, which they would view as a threat to their ties to Serbia proper.

Today's article attributes the protest against the border gates to criminal gangs. We can agree that criminal gangs would have benefited.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

They Should Have Read MacBeth

A young lawyer discovers that the American Paper Chase dream is not all it's cracked up to be:

In case they haven't noticed, time is the enemy. Time disappears faster than the weird guy dressed as Borat I mistakenly took home from the bar on Halloween. If they are making a habit of billing 2400 hours a year in their 20's, what the hell are they going to do when they wake up at 40 and look back on what they did with their youth? I know that they aren't actually enjoying the doc reviews, legal research and interrogatory drafting, so why are they so comfortable squandering the best decade of their whole entire lives on this crap? Is it because they think the best is yet to come?

That can't be the case, because all I have to do is take a look at the ashen-faced, graying, mid-level partners around here to realize that there's no light at the end of the tunnel. It's not like working your ass off now will result in some sort of distinguished freedom in 15 years.


To this day, television shows still portray lawyers as sexy crusaders for social justice. However, as the above quote indicates, there is little about a legal career that was not well stated by Shakespeare's MacBeth:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We Heve Not Planned For Pirates

The Somali pirates are important, not because they are "terrorists" nor even because pirates are legendary, semi-mythic figures from our own past.

They are important because they foreshadow a major aspect of 21st century naval warfare - commerce raiding - to which our and other navies are poorly structured to respond.

A recent article in the Small Wars Journal supports this thesis.

The United States Navy needs more and smaller vessels to combat emerging asymmetric threats, Claude Berube asserts in The Post Oceanic Navy, the New Shadow Zones, and the U.S. Navy’s Force Structure Challenge.

Today's United States and other navies feature declining numbers of large ships, he states. Gaps in naval forces are therefore resulting. He states:

In a global period of disharmonic convergence where declining Western navies can no longer operate in great numbers and other navies lack the strength and/or experience to replace them, expanding maritime security gaps will provide opportunities for asymmetric threats and operations by criminal and hostile belligerent forces.



The Post-Oceanic Era could focus in part on maritime security gaps or “shadow zones.” The term “shadow zone” traditionally has been used to describe a set of environmental conditions in underwater acoustics in which sound cannot - or can only minimally - penetrate and area thereby providing a safe operating area for submarines. The term could also apply these modern maritime security gaps – littorals near a failed, failing, or belligerent state that no navy has the strength, experience, or authority to patrol.


Berube discusses several options:

  • Maintaining order through NGO's.
  • Develop "brown-" and "green-water" platforms
  • Acquire corvette-sized ships from foreign shipyards
  • Build non-traditional support ships.


He concludes:
There should be no question that the U.S. needs carriers, cruisers, and advanced aircraft andestroyers, but there are coming realities unless there are unexpected shifts in policy and funding. Without an investment in modern smaller craft en masse, the federal budget will continue to constrict the Navy’s size, limit its abilities in the littorals, and allow non-state actors to rise, hone and possibly share their skills with other actors.


It is truly remarkable that the Navy has gotten itself into this sort of bind. Commerce raiding dates to the 16th century, when Huguenot corsairs, British sea dogs, and Dutch sea beggars raided the Spanish main. The tradition continued. Much of the United States' naval activities during the Revolution and the War of 1812 were commerce raiding against the British. The Confederate Alabama was a famous commerce raider as was the German WWII Graf Spee.

So how the navy could have overlooked a revival in commerce raiding is remarkable.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Political Strife Impairs Customs Controls Between Kosovo and Serbia

Efforts by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) to establish customs controls in North Kosovo between the generally recognized border between Kosovo and Serbia are drawing protests.

North Kosovo is a part of Kosovo largely inhabited by ethnic Serbs who generally consider themselves to be part of Serbia, not Kosovo.

EULEX is a European Union agency intended to assist Kosovo with its police, judiciary, and customs.

EULEX established these two North Kosovo border crossings last December. This February these drew protests from local ethnic Serbs, who viewed them as a threat to their connection with Serbia, not Kosovo.

In its latest action EULEX announced, as of May 20,
EULEX Customs will start copying the IDs of drivers of incoming commercial vehicles only, and will take copies of any commercial documents accompanying the loads. In addition, to reduce the amount of fraud and smuggling at the Gates, EULEX Customs Component will also stamp a copy of the commercial document. Copies of all data and documents taken by EULEX will be shared with its counterparts in Kosovo and Serbian Customs.


In response, President of the Serb National Council of Northern Kosmet Milan Ivanovic stated that he expected Belgrade to respond to EULEX's copying and that there would be a "sharp reaction."

We should note that Kosovo generally is a region notorious for organized crime and smuggling; so there probably is fraud and smuggling at these two gates. On the other hand, when the local population is actively hostile to efforts to control customs, these efforts probably won't work very well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Russia Trained Somali Pirates?

A retired rear admiral of the Soviet navy reportedly admitted today that some Somali pirates had been trained at USSR naval academies.

Smugglers in Turkey are Changing Their Tactics

An apparent decline in Turkish smuggling means not that there is less smuggling but rather that smugglers have changed their methods or routes,according to Turkish customs undersecretary Emin Zararsız.

Speaking yesterday, Zarasiz said that the smugglers are always one step ahead. No sooner do the authorities identify a new smuggling method than the smugglers develop yet another.

Turkey is the starting point of the "Balkan Route" through which narcotics - including recently cocaine - can reach Europe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Guinea-Bissau Too Poor to Investigate Death of Its Own President.

Guinea-Bissaudoes not have enough money to investigate the twin assassinations of its president and army chief of staff, its state prosecutor said Tuesday.

Both men were killed on March 2, 2009, in separate incidents.

Guinea-Bissau has become a major transit point for the import of drugs into Europe from Latin America.

Clearly, if Guinea-Bissau cannot investigate the assassination of its own president, it can hardly police drug smugglers.

Corruption in Croatia Could Lead to More Narcotics for Europe

Citing corruption in Croatia, Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand Samy said in Wall Street Journal that Europe could become more vulnerable to illicit smuggling should Croatia achieve EU accession.

They state that Croatia is part of the "Balkan Route," through which organized crime imports drugs, weapons, and trafficked humans into Europe.

Croatia's corrupt government is failing to solve this problem, they state.

Shipowners Remain More Scared of Lawyers than of Pirates

Confirming our prior assertion that shipowners fear lawyers more than they fear pirates, maritime experts and ship owners said on Monday:


Arming sailors or deploying mercenaries on board ships to combat pirate attacks would escalate violence and create a legal minefield.

Monday, May 18, 2009

MarineBuzz.com: rsibles for Cocaine Smuggling | MarineBuzz.com

According to MarineBuzz.comTorpedo shells will replace self propelled semi submersibles for cocaine smuggling
.

Apparently, towing these torpedoes would be harder to detect.

Leading Cocaine Importer Arrested


Raffaele Amato,"the principal, or one of the principal importers of cocaine into Italy", was arrested in Spain Saturday.

He had been living under a false name in Spain's Costa del Sol.

Amato had been head of a Camorra clan, Scissionisti di Secondigliano that had participated in a violent feud in recent years.

The photograph comes from Wikipedia.

Update: The Los Angeles Times provides extensive background on the Spanish milieu in which Amato and other Camorra operate.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sierra Leone's Freetown-Lungi International Airport

Sierra Leone ranks next to Guinea Bissau as cocaine smugglers' favorite African entry point. Sierra Leone's Freetown-Lungi International Airport has become notorious.

According to Sierra Leone's government's report, Corruption, Mismanagement, Financial and Infrastructural Difficulties: A Report on the Vulnerabilities of the Freetown International Airport, dated July, 2008:

Airports in Africa are normally saddled with infrastructural problems, but the Sierra Leonean case stands out such that even basic infrastructure like electricity, water and transportation to/from the airport are in short supply. Until recently, electricity at the airport was very irregular, especially at the runway-edge, and therefore a potential source of danger to landing aircrafts. This also creates opportunities for criminals to tamper with passengers’ luggage and break into cargo shelves at the cargo/freight section of the airport. The irregularity of electricity at the airport also encourages crimes of a transnational nature, such as drug trafficking, diamond smuggling and child and arms trafficking and even facilitates dubious financial activities and money laundering.
...
Apart from these basic problems mentioned, there is a huge deficit in most of the essential security apparatus. Glaring examples include the absence of; diamond experts, diamond testing machines, metal detectors, scanners, sniffer dogs, functionally efficient walk through metal detectors, hold baggage x-ray screening system, etc. Without adequately addressing these shortcomings, the country will be exposed to drug couriers, smugglers and other perpetrators of transnational crimes.


The report also cites widespread corruption amongst airport personnel. Virtually every one of its 46 pages is an eye opener.

Friday, May 15, 2009

International Marine Bureau: Somali Pirates Do Not Target Vessels in Advance

Reports that an international network of contacts help Somali pirates target specific vesselsare greatly exaggerated, according to the ICC International Marine Bureau (IMB).

According to the IMB:

Further allegations have been made in the press that London-based information channels have been utilised to provide intelligence to the pirate gangs. There is no evidence to support these allegations. Further, there is no information in the public domain that would enable pirates to precisely locate a targeted vessel at sea and then to mount a successful attack off the Horn of Africa.

EU to Give Africa 120 Million to Fight Drug Trafficking

The European Union will spend $120 million euros to fight drug trafficking, organized crimes and drug abuse in West Africa.

In apparently related developments, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)will develop new initiatives to fight West African drug trafficking.

Why You Can't Prosecute the 'Ndrangheta in Italy

How Italian authorities treat"the most important witness of the Italian justice":


During the seven years of tottering protection, the Masciari’s family has been constantly in danger because of the leaks of the system that put him in close contact with the criminals he was testifying against, registered him with his full name when checking in different hotels and left him without escort in several occasions. In addition to all that, in 2004 the Home Office calls off his protection scheme, announcing that the trials he was involved with were finally closed.

With the trials still taking place and the risk of being the target of the Mafia still present, Mr Masciari appeals to the TAR of Lazio (local court of the Region Lazio) to have the protection scheme back. Although the TAR’s sentence of January 2009 provides for the re-integration of the Masciari’s family under the security program, the Minister of the Interior fails to comply with these orders.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Remote Kosovo Lake is "Open Gate for Criminality” :: BalkanInsight.com

Remote Vermica Lake lake bordering Kosovo and Albania reportedly is scene for much cross border smuggling.

Kosovo has a serious smuggling problem. According to United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 - Kosovo:
Porous boundaries that were easily crossed by individuals trafficking in persons, weapons, and narcotics hampered Kosovo's counterterrorism efforts. Traffickers took advantage of numerous roads and trails leading into Kosovo that lacked border controls. Poorly paid border and customs officials were susceptible to corruption.

Columbia's VP: Mexican Drug Cartels Making Inroads into Britain

Columbia's Vice President Francisco Santos, addressing the United States State Department in Washington on Wednesday, said that Mexican cocaine cartels were making even deeper inroads into Britain, where traffickers receive more for the drug without the risk they would face in the United States.

African Pirates Grow More Agressive.

Somali pirates' motherships are coordinating their attacks, according to head of the EU anti-piracy mission.

Hopefully, Nigerian MEND insurgents are not picking up tactical lessons from their Somali counterparts, because MEND has hijacked two ships off the Nigerian coast and taken at least 15 hostages.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

U.S. Ships Must Post Guards If Sailing Off Somalia

U.S. ships must post guards if sailing off Somalia.

This requirement shall be part of the Coast Guard's recently released Maritime Security Directive requiring U.S. flagged vessels to establish an anti-piracy plan.

There has been some debate throughout the blogosphere about whether US flagged vessels could be permitted to arm themselves against pirates; this debate now seems over.

Coast Guard Issues Maritime Security Directive

Responding to Somali pirate attacks, the US Coast Guard has issued a Maritime Security Directive:


Prior to entering high risk waters, U.S. flagged vessels should establish an anti-piracy plan that includes the hardening of rigging and operating vessels in a manner to prevent attacks and subsequent boarding. Ships shall also use established transit lanes, erratic ships maneuvering, increased speed and cooperation with military forces patrolling the area. During transits through high-risk areas, it is the ship's responsibility to maintain a vigilant anti-piracy watch and ensure all shipboard anti-piracy precautions are in force.


It adds that vessel security plans for U.S. flagged vessels that operate in high risk waters must have security protocols for terrorism, piracy, and armed robbery against ships that meet the performance standards in this directive by May 25.

Note that this applies only to US flagged vessels, which are very much the rare exception. ( Panama has more flagged vessels than any other country ). These protocols would apply only to high risk waters such as off Somalia or the Straight of Malacca.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Humanitarian Aid Linked to Illicit Arms, Cocaine, Other Trafficking

Air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilizing arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, according to a report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The report reveals that 90 per cent of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used by major UN agencies, EU and NATO member states, defence contractors and some of the world’s leading NGOs to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment. In some cases, air cargo companies are delivering both aid and weapons to the same conflict zones.

Entitled ‘Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows’, the report shows how air cargo carriers involved in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations have also transported a range of other conflict-sensitive goods such as cocaine, diamonds, coltan and other precious minerals.

According to the Executive Summary:
Transportation represents the `choke point' for destabilizing or illicit commodity flows. Air and maritime transport actors are far easier to trace than arms brokers, drug cartels or resource smugglers as the former must legitimately register their aircraft, vessels and associated companies. As such, transporters are the only non-state actors involved in destabilizing or illicit commodity flows required to operate overtly. This characteristic makes them possible to track via databases, flight and maritime records and field research and subject to control.


The full report is here.

Stowaway Surge

There has recently been a massive uptick in stowaways.

The United Nations' Refugee Agency (UNHCR) places the phenomena as part of a tide of refugees and economic migrants that take their chance at sea. There were some 57,000 irregular arrivals by sea in Southern Europe and 50,000 in Yemen last year alone.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jamaica Blues

In Sun, sand and savagery: Whatever happened to Jamaica, paradise island?, Ian Thompson describes how Jamaica has become a haven for crime and drug smuggling.

He covers many well known themes: the role of slums, the hopeless poverty.

Consistent with the Huguenot Corsair theme of this blog, he describes how Jamaica's problems date to the sugar plantation slave society of buccaneer days. The Jamaica that smuggled rum to England and which harbored the Maroons, now smuggles cocaine and harbors gangs.

Thompson, by citing Jamaica's illicit exchange with Haiti of cocaine for guns, draws our attention to the broader exchange of cocaine for drugs that seems to be a theme in the Americas. If US and Mexican authorities should clamp down on the current flow of guns from America across the Mexican border to the Mexican drug cartels, we could well expect the Haitian - Jamaican route to replace it.

His article is gripping. Everyone should read it.

MAOC-N: Europe's Response to Cocaine Invasion

The Lisbon, Portugal-based Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (Narcotics) (MAOC-N), founded by Britain, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France, Holland and Italy in September, 2008, is Europe's leading organization addressing the flow of cocaine to it from Latin America.

An organization so new there currently is no Wikipedia entry for it, MAOC-N and it head, Tim Manhire, have been featured by the British Telegraph.

Recently, MAOC-N played a leading role in a widely reported $400 million cocaine seizure of a yacht, Dances with Waves, that was attempting to smuggle the narcotic from near Venezuela. The South Devon Herald Express provides a timeline of that operation.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Contrasting View on Arming Ships

According to ExportLawBlog "It appears likely that merchant marine ships are going to have to continue to rely on high pressure water hoses for the immediate future to rebuff pirate attacks.", citing legal obstacles to arming these ships.

This contrasts with our post, Shipowner: The Lawyers Won't Let Us Fight Pirates.

At issue is whether State Department regulations (ITAR) prevent ship owners from arming themselves against pirates.

Their view:

Although conceding that ITAR does not prohibit arming merchant vessels, ExportLawBlog cites the following factors as inhibiting them:

  • An export license would be necessary.
  • Countries subject to arms embargoes could not be visited.
  • The exception for non-automatic firearms would be insufficient against AK-47's and RPG's.


Beyond ITAR, ExportLawBlog states that armed ships would have to post a bond and furthermore would be subject to possible restrictions from countries they may visit.

Our response:

Irksome as bonds and export licenses may be, we must note that US flag vessels are very much the rare exception and - as a practical matter - exist only to service special United States projects which mandate US flaged ships, such as the recent aid mission to Kenya which the attacked Liberty Sun was on.

Furthermore, pirates are active in specific locations. Ships venturing elsewhere would not need to be armed.

U.S. flag ships are effectively federally subsidized. They should be able to recoup the costs of securing licenses and bonds as part of their contracts. If, God forbid, their special missions should compel them to visit some embargoed port, they should steer clear of pirate infested waters - and recoup any resulting increased transportation costs. As for any foreign laws, those are beyond Congress' control in any event.

Africa's Labor Supply for Drug Runners

The 42 million Africans who use cannabis are a target for drug barons, according to Chief Executive of Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Alhaji Amadu Giade.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

West Africa Exports Cocaine to Indonesia

While this blog has focused on how West Africa is becoming a transit hub for the flow of cocaine into Europe, note that West African syndicates also are supplying Indonesia.

Pentagon: Insurance Costs Prevent Shipper's From Fighting Pirates

Developing incentives such as tax credits and reduced insurance may be useful to cause shippers to defend themselves, Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday:


As part of this effort, it may be useful to develop incentives that will help encourage merchant ships to invest in security measures. These could range from tax credits to reduced insurance rates for ships with enhanced security. Ultimately, it may be appropriate to mandate some of these actions, beginning with passive self-defense


Apparently, the risk of having one's ship hijacked and one's crew kidnapped is not already incentive enough.

Her testimony buttresses our previous argument
that the reason shippers refrain from defending themselves appears to be that currently the liability insurance costs of defending themselves probably outweighs the casualty insurance costs of being pirated.

According to Flournoy, the following self-help measures would be effective:

Effective merchant ship security includes both passive and active defense measures, and we are committed to working with commercial carriers who operate in the region to undertake vulnerability assessments and disseminate best practices. Effective passive security measures can include developing a comprehensive security plan; including risk assessment; the removal of external ladders; posting lookouts at all times; limiting lighting; rigging barriers (such as barbed wire and fencing) in low freeboard areas; varying routes taken and avoiding high-risk areas when possible; securing hatches to limit access to crew and control spaces; creating “safe rooms” and maintaining good communications with maritime security authorities.

Active defense measures can range from rigging fire hoses to repel boarders to maintaining professional civilian armed security teams on board. While there is some concern within the shipping industry about armed security teams, we are working with industry representatives in conjunction with other agencies to explore how contracted security teams can be a useful and viable option for highly vulnerable ships, such as low freeboard and slow vessels.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Troubles for Italy

Your fancy vacation in Italymay come to courtesy of the mob, according to Independent World.

Well known to readers of this blog, various organized crime gangs in Italy are making massive inroads into that society. Although these organizations historically have been based in Italy's rural south, this article describes how the mob is moving into Italy's more urban, sophisticated north. This article highlights how the mob now is moving into Italy's vaunted tourist and fashion sectors.

The article states:

These mobsters have lots of what is in short supply these days – liquidity – as well as centuries-honed expertise in preying on the vulnerable. It means the mob is free to sink cash into two areas at the heart of the global meltdown: property and credit markets.

Memorize this.

No Ransom for This Ship

In what must have been a snafu, Somali pirates have freed without ransom a UAE-owned cargo shipen route to Mogadishu with goods for local businessmen.

Reportedly, the release resulted from contacts between the Somali traders and the pirates.

Perhaps other shippers should partner with these Somali businessmen?

Shipowner: The Lawyers Won't Let Us Fight Pirates

"The right of self defense cannot be exercised with the benefit of firearms under existing law" against Somali pirates, testified Philip Shapiro, CEO of Liberty Maritime Corporation, on May 5 before the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Liberty Maritime Corporation owns the Liberty Sun, a US flag ship that Somali pirates fired upon April 14 off the Somali coast.

Citing difficulties in securing shipping, Shapiro stated:

Given these conditions, our company and other U.S.-flag companies have renewed our focus on the issue of fire arms and the use of specially trained security personnel whether employed by the U.S. Government or by private contractors....[I]t has become obvious that that prohibitions contained in U.S. and foreign laws and existing legal liability make arming crew members or having armed private security very difficult if we are to abide by current law.

I have also heard it said that there should be no issue because the vessel and its crew have an unquestioned right of self-defense....

Today's U.S. legal framework actually prevents ship owners from arming their vessels for self defense. While the maritime right of self defense is enshrined in U.S. law in a statute dating from 1817, more recently enacted State Department arms export regulations effectively prohibit the arming of vessels. Additionally, ship owners risk being second-guessed in U.S. courts for self defensive measure s that were common in 1817....

I believe that U.S. flag ship owners have done all they can within the law to protect their crews. The safety of our crews is paramount.....


The two cited obstacles that prevent Mr. Shapiro from doing more are "more recently enacted State Department arms export regulations" and the risk of "being second-guessed in U.S. courts for self defensive measures that were common in 1817."

Shapiro apparently is citing the State Departments International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These regulations have frustrated Xe ( the corporation formerly known as Blackwater ) from its plans to market a pirate hunting ship. Why these regulations should also bar crews from arming themselves is less clear.

As for the dreaded "risk" of being "second-guessed in U.S. courts for self defensive measure s that were common in 1817," we can only speculate that Mr. Shapiro fears that running a pirate through with a cutlass could give rise to novel liability issues. Apparently liability insurance against such risks would be more expensive that insuring against theft of the vessel and kidnap of the crew. In any event Mr. Shapiro apparently repudiates the doctrine that "It is better to be tried by twelve than buried by six."

However, we are not satisfied that Mr. Shapiro is doing all he can within the law to protect his crews. Nor are we fully convinced that their safety, to him, is "paramount."

We urge Mr. Shapiro henceforth to join his crews when they venture into Somali waters. Then he would be better able to evaluate whether he actually is doing everything he can to protect them.

Update: Regarding Liberty Maritime's access to liability insurance, we should note that liability insurance policies typically include an "intentional injury exclusion," which would bar coverage for intentional acts, such as deliberately running someone through with a cutlass. However, a quick Google search suggests there is legal authority holding that this exclusion does not apply to acts of self-defense, presumably including repelling Somali pirate attacks.

John Robb on the Somali Pirates

John Robb states that It's pretty clear the piracy situation off of Somalia is another example of Guerrilla Entrepreneurs creating a bazaar like dynamic.

The great precedent for this is how the Huguenot corsairs, English sea dogs, and Dutch sea beggars fell upon the Iberian powers in the 16th and 17th centuries. Kenneth Andrews, in Elizabethan Privateering: English Privateering During the Spanish War, 1585-1603, explores the economics of Elizabethan privateering; while Benerson Little, in The Sea Rover's Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730 explores the buccaneers' tactics.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Smugglers' Britain

One of our favorite websites, Smugglers' Britain, provides an overview of the traditional British smuggler.

Despite our enthusiasm for Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn or Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, the typical smuggler was not a Cornishman. Yes, Cornwall did have its smugglers. Yes, indeed. But smugglers covered the entire coast of England. And most of them were in the South and East, near London. For it was one thing to smuggle the booty onshore. Then you had to sell it. And London was the market. Another famous smuggling area was the Isle of Man, a tax free haven from whence smugglers would dash goods over to the area around Liverpool.

England's first smugglers, moreover, were not attempting to smuggle goods into England; rather they were attempting to smuggle wool out of England. Woolen in the medieval economy played much the same role that oil plays today. And England was then the Saudi Arabia of oil. The crown, to raise revenue, taxed its export, so smugglers sneaked it out.

Only later, following the Glorious Revolution, did the crown begin to tax luxury imports, giving rise to smuggling these items. Many smugglers opposed not just the taxes but the government itself; they were Jacobites. During the early 18th century large, well organized smugging gangs emerged that challenged the government much as Mexico's drug cartels now are.

The Smugglers Britain website covers all of this and more. Learn where they were, what they did. Find out about famous smugglers and dramatic incidents. And learn that many things resembling today's headlines have happened before.

Monday, May 4, 2009

West Africa's New Tax Haven

As West Africa emerges as transit point for shipment of cocaine from South America to Europe, Ghana has combined with Barclay's bank to establish a tax haven.

Barclay's has been working with Ghana's government to establish the tax haven since 2005. Other banks may join Barclays later this year.

Ghana's new tax haven laws provide for minimal financial disclosures.

Tax haven countries are frequently associated with money laundering.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Interestng Drug Distribution Into Hungary.

Contrary to what we would expect, cocaine distribution into Hungary appears to come from Asian rather than Dutch sources.

One of the primary routes for cocaine distribution into Europe is via the Netherlands; so we would not at all be surprised to learn that Hungary's cocaine comes from there. Moreover, according to the Hungarian National Security Office (NBH), Hungary's marijuana and synthetic drugs do arrive via the Dutch route. In contrast, Hungary's opium and heroin arrive instead from Afghanistan.

Hungary's cocaine apparently arrives along with the Afghan opium and heroin rather than the Dutch marijuana and synthetic drugs, according to the NBH. The NBH also notes that the Afghan distribution system is the more structured.




Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review

Friday, May 1, 2009

A New Pirates' Cove: The Bijagos Islands


The Bijagos islands, off the coast of the small, vulnerable country of Guinea Bissau, have become a modern day pirate's cove.

Seeking to expand their markets into Europe, Latin American drug gangs are establishing outposts along the West Africa coast to serve as depots and transit points. These islands are remote and lightly guarded, even by Guinea Bissau standards. There are over 90 islands scattered in the archipelago, many uninhabited.

Wikipedia was the source of the above map.