On air: Are the Somali pirates the real heroes?

The capture and rescue of Captain Richard Phillips has been around about the top story in the world for days. And now he’s free there’s been even more handsome praise for the bravery, selflessness and heroism of a man who put his life at risk to protect his crew.

But in the middle of all of this, there are some of you who feel the praise should be heading in the direction of the pirates. The argument goes that theirs is a country without an effective government since 1991, that’s been largely abandoned by the outside world, that is in desperate need of money and food and that has had its fishing waters violated.

In such a situation how else could Somalis react? And if piracy gets money and attention then isn’t that so much the better?

The counter is that these pirates aren’t Robin Hoods, but gangsters who are keen to make themselves rich not to serve the greater good.

So should the international community be coming down hard on the pirates or concentrating on listening to the reasons that Somalis have so few options at the moment?

Johann Hari argues the pirates have ‘some justice on their side’.

137 Responses to “On air: Are the Somali pirates the real heroes?”

  1. 1 steve
    April 13, 2009 at 14:23

    I can’t imagine any other situation where the BBC would suggest that kidnapping and holding people at gunpoint, taking away their freedom, risking the lives of the hostages, as an act of “heroism”. I’d love to see someone in the west do this, and the BBC dare suggest that it’s “heroic”. I don’t know, maybe if the economy gets worse and people start breaking into the homes of rich people and demanding ransoms, would the BBC call it heroic?

  2. 2 Alice in Ilkley
    April 13, 2009 at 14:25

    The word ‘Heros’ is over used these days. The definition of a hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. These pirates who have killed and tried to kill innocent people can not be labelled heros. There country may have problems but surely there are better ways to ask for help. Doing such things is only going to isolate the country even more.

  3. 3 Henry Ekpunobi
    April 13, 2009 at 14:32


    I see no reason for anyone to attach any trace of heroism to these pirates. They ran into serious trouble by attempting to hijack an american flagged ship and they knew it from the onset. The heroes as far as I see at the crew of the Maersk Alabama for giving them a good fight and more especially the Capt for placing his life on the line for his crew.

    I can draw an analogy between the piracy in the gulf of Aden and the hostage taking in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. The question many observers have not attempted to answer is, “to what use has all the ransom money collected been put to?” The guys doing the job at sea are just errand boys. The main individuals behind these incidences are big shots whose indentity are yet to be revealed.

    In the case of the Niger Delta of Nigeria, as far as I know, the main reason for all the unrest we have seen in that area is not about resource control, but all about criminality. There is a cartel whose trade is to steal crude to enrich themselves. They are the ones who break up pipe lines to cause pollution as well arm some young men to cause unrest and havoc. Unfortunately, the political class cannot solve this problem since they have in someway benefitted from this. The likes of Ateke Tom played prominent roles in the election of some of the political office holders in that area, therefore these politicians lack the will to tackle him as well other groups.

    I have doubts in the capacity of our armed forces to deal with the situation, but the truth remains that their hands are tied since they have to take orders from the commander-in-chief, whose hands are also tied.

  4. 4 Tony from Singapura
    April 13, 2009 at 14:33

    I fully agree with and congratulate the US Navy (and the French Armed Forces) for their actions, I think that such escalation is in order to reduce the rampart piracy in that area.

    Unfortunatly the action may result in escalation of violence towards captured crews in the future – perhaps this is the price to pay for reduction of piracy.

    I do however take issue with the statement that the Captain saved his crews lives (as has been reported on BBC today).

    In fact he didnt save their lives, he simply saved them from a long wait while the ships insurance agents negotiated a settlement for return of ship and crew.

  5. 5 Andre
    April 13, 2009 at 14:35

    This is the most facile argument that I have ever heard the BBC make. Pirates are nothing more than armed robbers and kidnappers who operate on the high seas. Their conduct has been condemned for hundreds of years. There are no grounds for calling the pirates anything but criminals and international outlaws.

    I have been heartened to see how the United States handled these vile criminals and I sincerely hope that the other naval powers in the area will follow suit. There must be no quarter for such people or else piracy will be encouraged and many more merchant ships will be attacked by these criminals. Frankly, if the attacks do not stop I hope that the United States (or one of the other naval powers), launch attacks on the ground areas where the pirates are based. It is time to put the hurt on these criminals.

  6. 6 Colin Abbott (Western Australia).
    April 13, 2009 at 14:35

    Pirates? Three Cheers for the Yanks! Now … where are the planks?

  7. 7 Alby
    April 13, 2009 at 14:39

    The way you paint it, it sounds like when Europe was in the Dark Ages, and the Aristocracy got formed by sending fighters to the Crusades. Of course, that was teh beginning of the government for a long time. They robbed from the rich, developed countries and city states in the Eastern Mediterranean. In that case, these Pirates are on their way to earning Knighthoods!

    Who’s to say they are not doing it for the ‘greater good’. These pirates probably have homes and houses and probably vassals who will work for them on their land, and will be grateful to do so.

    It is the exact same story playing itself out again 1000 yrs later. We probably have something similar to look forward to if any of our governments, the rule-of-law , or the economic system truly breaks down for any length of time in our countries.

    Should just teach us not to play around with the social order like we have by de-regulating Finance…but, the Conservatives running the Military, or owning all the businesses know they would probably find themselves running the resultant dictatorships, so that is exactly what they wanted to achieve.

    We’ll see if they will be a match for Mexican Drug Lords and their Assault Weapons they increasingly are bringing into the continental US. Assault weapons they obtain and smuggle out of the US in the first place.

  8. 8 globalcomedy
    April 13, 2009 at 14:39

    Somalia has no real govt. and the people have been desperate for a long time. There’s the law that says that piracy is illegal.

    On the other hand, if you’re in a desperate situation like the Somali population, what do you do? When people are desperate, they’ll do whatever they have to to survive. What are they supposed to do? Wait for the IMF to help them? The IMF has to deal with bailing out the richer countries.

    Look at the recent shooting here in the States. What’s the one common thread? All of them are the result of the global meltdown. Just like Mexico, if Somalia had a stable society, we wouldn’t have this problem.

  9. 9 Roy, Washington DC
    April 13, 2009 at 14:44

    It’s armed robbery. Praising it is like defending a bank robber because “he’s just feeding his family”.

  10. April 13, 2009 at 14:44

    Did the Somali pirates do this for the attention or for profit? Did they intend to share their loot with their fellow men? It would be interesting to know the truth. My suspicion is that they would not have shared their illgotten gains with their deprived countrymen.

    We hear more and more about bailing out countries that are not functioning politically. It’s tempting for the developed countries to intervene like parents with dysfunctional offspring. That intervention is often exploited by the ruthless who seize the opportunity to line their own pockets and disseminate corruption. Where government has broken down completely, intervention is even more problematic.

    Piracy is an act of anarchy and it’s in nobody’s interest to promote anarchy. These pirates were prepared to kill innocent mariners for their own profit. However far I stretch my imagination, I cannot see the Somali pirates as heroes.

  11. 11 younes jim
    April 13, 2009 at 14:51

    hi :

    well for me i think the somali pirates has right to stop ships ect cuz the world ignored them no help or support instead of help this country to stand on it’s own feet they give up and went to iraq and pakistan afghanistan by investing lot of money to take over the petrole and gaz but if usa and uk invest money in somali in tottaly in africa there would be no pirates let’s put our sleves in their place no work no job what they can do wait and sit by the shore watching this ship sealing hehe let’s stop that everythings clear usa and uk and europe don’t want africa to stand on it’s own feet so they try to ruin anyway i think somali pirates got right to halt ship and kidnappe and ask for money see it’s all about money thank u

  12. 12 gugglemenot
    April 13, 2009 at 14:57

    In as much as the Somali area hasn’t had any functional government for the last 18 years, this doesn’t warrant the attack on innocent lives and more especially those that are helping innocent people elsewhere such as the food aids.

    I don’t believe that these people on getting the money really have the intentions of helping their fellow citizens who are suffering but rather they intend to sue it for their own benefits. We shouldn’t condone such stupid acts of violence and terrorism.

    Phillip K( Kampala)

  13. 13 Dihan from Sri lanka - Galle.
    April 13, 2009 at 14:58

    I cannot say that the things being done by the Somali pirates are correct.
    They are only group of robbers. It is unfair to plunder as they don’t have money and foods. They should try do find a way to earn money and foods.
    But on the other hand international community should think about them. They should find that why they are plundering. They are doing theses things as they have some problems. Unless they will not plunder ships. So I suppose that the reason should be found and the reason should be treated.
    So that if the international community can treat for their problems, they will not plunder again.

    Thank you.

  14. 14 Eric in Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 14:59

    I don’t know what definition you use for the word ‘Hero’, but if you go by the Merriam-Webster’s definition as: “a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities”, then I would say no.

  15. 15 Kim Johnson
    April 13, 2009 at 15:04

    No excuses for criminal acts. They are just a bunch of criminal who do not care about anyone but themselves. Anyone helps them is a criminal.

  16. April 13, 2009 at 15:06

    Somali pirates are no heroes as their acts are just an interruption of free shipments to consolidate international trade. If piracy can be praised, the same should apply to hostage taking for ransoms or drug sealing as they are and easy means to get lucrative gains.

    However the international community bears responsibility in the ongoing piracy. To end it, it isn’t enough to send warships to protect commercial vessels.

    Piracy is the price of leaving a country unruly in the grip of militias instead of a functional and central government. To end it, the international community should help Somalia become a normal country. The UN, through the Security Council, should endeavour to establish calm in this strategically important corner of the world, not just by using force against pirate but by helping the Somali people enjoy economic and political stability. Without this, Somalia will continue not only to be in the grip of pirates but also a base for Muslim Extremists that will make of it the “backyard” of Taliban and Al Qaeda.

  17. April 13, 2009 at 15:10

    The Mafia is contracted with countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece and others to dispose of dangerous radioactive wastes, which they choose to do off the coast of Somalia and most foreign nations violate the sovereignty of Somalia’s fishing grounds and haul from the sea with in their territorial waters scores of fish to feed their own interests without compensation in any way to Somalia.

    This must change.

  18. 18 Muthee in Nairobi
    April 13, 2009 at 15:10

    Heroes?!! No Way!!
    These are people out just taking advantage of the volatile situation in Somalia and deserve no sympathy at all. I am actually amazed that a rag-tag outfit can be holding the whole world at ransom and making millions of dollars every year. My opinion is that these pirates should be dealt with once and for all otherwise all those international vessels patrolling the waters are a waste of time and money from their respective taxpayer’s in the different countries.

    On the flip side though, it is just a rude reminder to the world that a stitch in time saves nine. Had the world helped prop up Somalia before it became completely lawless, we would not be talking of pirates or havens for ‘terrorists’ in Somalia. I guess Malcolm Little would say the “chicken have come home to roost”

  19. 19 Dan
    April 13, 2009 at 15:23

    It is not that the Somali Pirates were out to steal a piece of bread. They attacked a merchant vessel in International Waters threatening the crew with death because they wanted money…NOT food, NOT money for food, NOT medical supplies…THEY WANTED MONEY !!!!!!!
    The world (America) did try to help Somailia but rife with warlords who had no interest in building a country and America not in the nation building business, we let it all go.
    Now that the pirates who threatened Captain Phillips with an AK-47 to his back have been dispatched to their final reward with extreme prejudice as it should be and their cries of vengence ring hollow.
    If you elevate the pirates to heores you have lowered us all to the level of barbarians and unwound civilization.
    The pirates got the reward coming to them.

  20. 20 Bob in Queensland
    April 13, 2009 at 15:24

    The Somali pirates aren’t heroes or “Robin Hood” clones….just water-borne gangsters using violence to make themselves wealthy. You might just as well ask if the land-based warlords are heroes when, in reality, it is there actions that are keeping Somalia feral and poor.

  21. April 13, 2009 at 15:29

    James from Kenya

    WHAT heroes come on BBC! If a nut attacks me wanting to take my stuff on the excuse that he wants to sell it and feed his family. How does that make him a hero. Am I to blame that his house has no food. The cop who rescues me is the hero. YOU HAVE TODAY DECIDED TO SENSATIONALIZE WORLD HAVE YOUR SAY by HAILING THESE PIRATES.

  22. 22 Monica in DC
    April 13, 2009 at 15:32

    No… just no. Nothing heroic about it.

  23. 23 archibald in Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 15:36

    I am sure that this does not all boil down to people who just want to wreak havoc, although that is the nature of “pirates”, as characterized by much of the media. What is the difference in subtle white collar piracy $$$$$, which results in the destitution and the occasional death of its victims, (some by their own hand), though not in such dramatic fashion, but, still piracy. When extremes of this nature occur, their is usually a larger, more capable culprit lurking in the background, as no sensible leader would direct operations from the front lines. Any guesses?

  24. 24 Anthony
    April 13, 2009 at 15:40

    If this is the case, then the pirates should band together and start their own government. If not then their just a band of thugs.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  25. 25 Dan
    April 13, 2009 at 15:43

    @James Karuga
    For better insight to what desperate people will do to feed their family and sacrifices one makes for another read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo but what you had here was criminal. If they only wanted to feed their family I could undersand this, not condone it but understand it.

  26. 26 Ros Atkins
    April 13, 2009 at 15:44

    Here are some replies to the daily email…

    My dearest Ros,
    About piracy, I have to admit that I have always fount any stuff related to piracy and pirates amusing and fascinating since I was a little kid, and living the adventures normally pirates go through has always been one of my dearest childhood fantasies… At my current age I do consider piracy in general to be sort of a “romantic crime” if I may say, may be I do still find it rather difficult to criticise piracy openly and strongly although deep inside me I do know very well that it is a crime that should be strongly condemned… Much love and blessings to you from Baghdad… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…


    Arnaud in Cameroon
    Hi Ros,
    Did you say heroes? please, say terrorists! Okay?


    Hi Ros,

    This Philip from Mumbai.

    The question you have asked is, “Are the Somali Pirates the real Heroes?”

    To me they are the villains and their attitude is one of ‘Do or Die’
    and they don’t care about the results as they are ready to defy anyone. We must take all methods to rid this scourge from the face of the earth.

    They are not to be considered as heroes as the method is that the ends justify the means which is wrong from the word go.

    So they are not heroes but thieves, robbers and villains.


    Good Morning Ros,

    Do the masses of Somalia reap any benefits from the millions of dollars the Somali pirates have extracted from shipping companies? How much outside world help would be poured into Somalia before it would make a difference to the population and cease the pirate activities? What type of aid would stabilize the area and allow a government with which NATO and the UN might be happy? For that matter, what needs to be done to restore Africa to a stable, well governed, and productive continent?

    I’m without answers to any of my own questions! It seems that African leaders, except for a few, have learned all to well from their colonial occupiers who to exploit, rape and plunder an entire continent and leave it all in tatters.

    I believe it was President John Adams that said a Democracy can only work with a moral people. As I survey the carnage that greed and corruption has created in the nations of the world I do not see that there is one nation that is able to point to the morality of its people and the health of its government! Now that is a sad state of affairs.

    John Somers
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA


    The Somali pirates are doing what they are doing because of the deteriorating conditions within their country, surely, though I wonder if they give the money and supplies they steal to the poor and homeless, like Robin Hood would do, or do they keep it for themselves and their friends and families – in which case they are just hoodlums and thugs.

    But calling them “heroes” for trying to steal relielf supplies to other desperate countries? Nonsense, that’s the height of hypocrisy. They are only thinking of themselves!

    Daiv Whaley


  27. 27 Steve in Boston
    April 13, 2009 at 15:46

    Where is the world outrage at the disproportionate use of force by the United States? Where are the threatened criminal prosecutions against the Navy Seals for murder and war crimes? Where is the condemnation of the U.S. by the United Nations for the killing of innocent civilians?

    I’m waiting patiently.

  28. 28 Lance Herrick
    April 13, 2009 at 15:51

    Perhaps we need to consider both sides as necessary in resolving this issue. Clearly, the Somalis are in desperate shape, an essentially leaderless country which is bleeding refugees (our congregation helped to settle one Somali Bantu family who will soon move into their own Habitat for Humanity house here in Milwaukee WI). But piracy itself is an international crime. I don’t know what the residents of Somalia need to learn to govern themselves, but this must be a starting point. I’m not sure that Western democracy can be imposed (surely the lesson that George Bush and Dick Cheney forgot to the embarrassment and shame of the US). But nation-building must take place. My guess is that this will require several steps to move any people from tribal consciousness to a modern nation.

  29. 29 Steve/Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 15:55

    here is the definition of piracy from wiki:

    Piracy is a war-like act committed by a nonstate actor, especially robbery or criminal violence committed at sea, on a river, or sometimes on shore, either from a vessel flying no national flag, or one flying a national flag but without authorization from a national authority. It does not normally include crimes on board a vessel among passengers or crew. The term has been used to refer to raids across land borders by nonstate actors.

    Nothing i see in there is Heroic. They kind of sound like another grp of people i have heard of in the last few years i think they call themselves al qaeda.

  30. 30 Steve/Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 15:57

    also if these pirates took there time and effort they could more than likely fix the governmental problems. but that would be noble

  31. April 13, 2009 at 16:06

    Somali pirates are not heroes but real brigands instead. The fact that they are at loggerhead with each other in Somalia does not give them the right to turn to criminal ways of earning money and putting others life at risk. I really believe that it is time for the world to think of an authentic way to get those pirates of the sea. In stead of resulting to piracy to earn their livelihood, it is time for them to put pressure behind their so-called leaders to put in place any form of government that will promote law and order in Somalia so that normal businesses can resume. This will not only benefit the few who have turned to piracy for survival, but the whole Somalia and the rest of the world. It is time we all act against this issue of piracy. Enough is enough.

  32. 32 Jennifer
    April 13, 2009 at 16:22

    The somali pirates are thugs!

    The underlying thing I think some people might find heroic is that these people have had no government and they are lashing out and it’s making for some publicity. Taking hostages and being criminals does not do anything to better their situation. They need to be constructive! And, the first place they need to look at is within their own lives. What can they do to legitimately improve their lives? The actions the pirates took did nothing to help their problems.

  33. April 13, 2009 at 16:23

    The Mafia is contracted with countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece and others to dispose of dangerous radioactive wastes, which they choose to do off the coast of Somalia and most foreign nations violate the sovereignty of Somalia’s fishing grounds and haul from the sea with in their territorial waters scores of fish to feed their own interests without compensation in any way to Somalia.

    This must change.

  34. 34 saad khosa
    April 13, 2009 at 16:24

    Of course these pirates are heroes. As for as piracy is no body want to be pirate but circumstances are responsible for it. But to hold the hostage the crew of the world most powerful country is achievement in itself. So they can be labelled as hero.

  35. 35 Matt Roberts
    April 13, 2009 at 16:29

    You must be kidding: Pirates as Heroes? To me, the instant any one pirate steps foot on a ladder, or grasps a rope, connected to my ship, the entire pirate group deserves to lose their collective heads. Instantly. In any waters, close inshore or on the high seas. Please elucidate if this concept has any lack of moral validity, and exactly why. I live in Wyoming, part of the real the “Wild West”. I don’t know about those Eastern-Establishment ex-Real-13-Colony states like Massachusetts, but here, in this state and this town, a homeowner has the absolute right to use deadly force if anyone enters his house without leave. Say, just for example, a burglar. He gets a .45 slug from my grandfather’s 1918-model Colt handgun. In the right eye. I can do it. Just try me out. Result: I can’t remember when the last burglary occured here. Ah, see a pattern?

  36. 36 kelvin kamayoyo from Lusaka- Zambia
    April 13, 2009 at 16:30

    Dear BBC,

    Thanking you very much for bringing this topic and phrasing it in this manner, are Somali pirates heroes? It is a very BIG NO the Somali pirates can not be heroes and will never be maybe in their dreams. The Somali pirates’ actions recently are similar to those of the Islamic suicide bombers. Indeed pirate is just another form of suicide bombing in this part of the world Africa. I have a feeling that Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin is actively involved in this silly business practice of taking people hostage and demand ransom all done in the quest to fundraise income for their selfish and evil acts terrorism.

    Somali pirates most of them appear to be young or in the late youth age group and l suspect many of them are significantly illiterate and are often coercide to engage into such practices on behalf of the war lords.

    My world of advice to the international community is that they should adopt a more proactive and multisectoral approach to issuing of aid to Somalia and by that l mean its high time they started doing more in the area of education just as they are doing in the area of food security. Education is an indirect weapon to stop pirate activities as the youths will begin to see the benefits of spending more time on school work rather than silly enterpreneurship skills in the name of pirating. By the way WHY is it that when all these problems are happen in most Arab/Islamic countries the Arab League is always very sleep and quite about it?

    Finally to the NATO, UN, EAC, AU should declare a SEA and Ocean state of emergency for 90 days and patrol the waters in order to halt these pockets of pirates who are engaging in silly practices and without defined motive or idealogy at all.

    Kelvin Kamayoyo
    Lusaka, Zambia

  37. 37 Evan, Hillsboro, OR, USA
    April 13, 2009 at 16:31

    People like these Somali pirates are contributing the the disarray of Somalia. They obviously have some measure of ability that could be used for the greater good of their country, but they are instead using their abilities to make themselves rich. They are not heroes by any standard. They are opportunists, thieves, and most likely murderers as well. But at the same time, it is the very condition of Somalia which allows these pirates to operate so freely. Without fixing the social, economic, and governmental problems of the country, they will never go away.

  38. 38 Bert
    April 13, 2009 at 16:41

    Pirates the heroes? What nonsense.

    If these people want to provide revenue for their families and their country, they should do so by offering goods or services that others willingly to pay to obtain. Making revenue by pointing a gun does not qualify as providing a good or a service. It is simple extortion.

    The pirates should be made to understand that the party is over. They cannot have expected to keep revenue stream going indefinitely, right? Criminal behavior has to be stopped.

    Even the mafia can make a better case than these pirates. At least, the mafia can claim to provide “protection.”

  39. 39 Will, British Columbia
    April 13, 2009 at 16:41

    This is a vital shipping lane and the longer the international community allows these ‘heres’ to hijack ships and hold innocent people for ransom, there is no real reason for them to stop. The UN has a real opportunity to create a multilateral task force to prevent further acts of piracy just as the UN and the African union are likely the best solution for helping Somalia in the long term. Recent actions by the French and U.S. governments should be praised, but lets work together in the future.

  40. 40 Anthony
    April 13, 2009 at 16:45

    Well, at least they have said they will take revenge on the US (and France), like the U.S. doesn’t have enough on its plate already. This is a world problem, and they all should nip this at its roots before it becomes another Afghanistan.

    What happened to the pirates who get drunk, and sing, with parrots on their shoulders and peg legs? I want to see some hand hooks!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    P.S., It’s kind of funny that these pirates can’t understand why our military killed the 3, just because they are robbing huge boats and holding guns to peoples heads.

  41. April 13, 2009 at 16:51

    Although these guys are criminals, you have to give it to them for getting the attention for the most powerful nation in the world. My prayer is that with this incident, America will commit more resources to the fight of puracyin this region.

  42. 42 Justin from Iowa
    April 13, 2009 at 16:51

    In brief, in response to your e-mail question: BOTH. These pirates should be Keel Hauled, and the problems facing Somalia addressed.

    The problem is, of course, all the political correctness nazi’s out there will cry for the poor souls of these ‘Rats, and they won’t recieve the punishments they deserve. While at the same time those same political correctness hacks will denounce anyone for suggesting establishing law, order, and government in Somalia by force, the only way its going to happen.

  43. 43 Justin from Iowa
    April 13, 2009 at 16:59

    Also, Saad, they aren’t targeting american vessels to make a political point,t hey are targeting any vessel they have a reasonable shot of taking. Just because they manage to bag a couple american vessels in the midst of all the Indian, Russian, etc etc. vessels doesn’t make them heroes. It makes them criminals who should be shot.

  44. 44 archibald in Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 16:59

    I have read a few posts that seem to suggest that their are a lot of career options for the average Somali. How western of you! “If they just change their lives and focus on getting a good honest job, life will be better……….poppycock!” Those gov’ts with all the money, pull the strings, those without must do as their circumstances dictate………I am not condoning, just trying to be fair to people whos shoes we have not stood in.

  45. 45 Patti in Cape Coral, FL
    April 13, 2009 at 17:01

    I may understand the desperation that may drive the Somali to piracy, and it does make reluctant to judge them harshly, but they are most definitely not heroes. Any benefit to Somalia is illegitimate because of the means used to get it, and from what I understand, it is debatable how much the rest of Somalia is benefiting.

  46. 46 MIGUEL (California)
    April 13, 2009 at 17:03

    A hero is some one who saves the life of others not some one who tries to kidnap the wrong people and ends up dying, and I hope the Somalian pirates learn what is coming to them when they try to kidnap more US Ships. The real heroes are the American Captain who saved his crew and the Navy Seals who save the life of the Captain.

  47. 47 Bert
    April 13, 2009 at 17:10

    Getting the attention of the US by threating innocent lives is hardly a feat to be proud of. On the contrary, it is the sort of action that only a complete scoundrel could be proud of, someone with no moral fiber whatever.

  48. 48 Peter s c
    April 13, 2009 at 17:18

    A lot of things we don’t know about the pirates. Were they Robin Hood or were they just ruthless plunderers. Either way if they got away with it USN would look very incompetent. So they did.nt stand a chance from the start. God is not on their side.

  49. April 13, 2009 at 17:18

    The pirates are not heroes. Attracting attention and helping Somalia is not their purpose – their purpose is to loot and to become rich. And its got nothing to with the recession. These are well equipped pirates and they need money to buy the weapons. Jobless people do not have that kind of money.

  50. 50 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    April 13, 2009 at 17:25

    What an outrageous idea, that the pirates might be “heros” in any sense at all.

    They hijack, they threaten murder, they steal, they blackmail, they hold hostages. Their backward tribal society, bent on stasis and local rivalries, is responsible for their situation. Their problems are not the world’s doing, but their own.

    Many years ago I read a rant by a right-wing American commentator who said that the solution to the Somali problem was better arms, better training, and a total land and sea blockade around the failed state. Let them fight it out among themselves, and if anyone survived, see if they could be reasoned with. I am politically liberal, but the right-wing American’s solution might be what actually happens there.

    No, no, no and again NO! The Somali pirates are not heros, they are despicable human beings.

  51. 51 Dennis Junior
    April 13, 2009 at 17:35

    I think that the Pirates are the semi-real hereos….

    But in my eyes; The crew of the U.S. Flag ship are my heroes….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  52. 52 Jessica in NYC
    April 13, 2009 at 17:42

    If someone had non-violently stolen food to feed their family it probhably would have garnered my sympathy, but to cowardly hold a gun to someone’s head and threaten his life unless a ransom was received will not gain support for their plight from the west.

  53. 53 Nas
    April 13, 2009 at 17:58

    Hi all,

    This topic is extremely chose to me and I do believe that the media is failing to address the whole reason why there is a piracy phenonomon off the coast of Somalia.

    We need to understand that Somalia has not got a strong central authority that is capable maintaining law and order and there are a number of reasons to this such as warlord-ism, clan violence, neighbouring states interference in Somali internal political problems and international community abandonment of Somalia.

    During the periods since the UN had abandoned Somalia (1995) there has been a looting spree off the coast of Somali seas in which toxic waste were dumped and Somalia’s lucrative fishing resource were looted.

    Somali people reaction was clear and simple…take action!

    The international community must ackhnowlege that piracy can only be solved if there is peace in the land of Somalia.


  54. April 13, 2009 at 17:58

    I see very few heroes, but a lot of thugs. Somali thugs in shabby clothes, G20 thugs in expensive suits, Mafia thugs dumping toxic waste in Somali waters, Asian fishing thugs scraping the bottom of the sea.

    If the powerful nations can patrol the sea to stop the pirates, surely they can put an end to fish poachers and toxic dumpers.

  55. 55 Bruno
    April 13, 2009 at 18:06

    As always it’s a question of point of view. If you look at the situation from the eyes of their people who couldn’t even go fishing because of all these countries pillaging their waters, then yes they must be heroes.

  56. 56 Reverend Wallace Ryan
    April 13, 2009 at 18:08

    I don’t think the pirates are “heroes” and I don’t think that it’s moral to kidnap people on the high seas and threaten their lives. I don’t care what the economic or political situation in Somalia is and I don’t think this gives these thugs carte blanche to do what they please no matter how dire their circumstances.

    What these pirates are doing is wrong and must not be allowed in a so-called civilized world. I mourn the death of any human but in this case, the pirates merely reaped what they had sown.

    Maybe the rest of the pirates will reconsider their choice of vocation.

    Rev. Wallace Ryan

  57. April 13, 2009 at 18:11

    Desperate people do desperate things – even if they against social norms. Hero’s? Certainly not, desperate, most definitely.

  58. 58 Dave in Florida
    April 13, 2009 at 18:12

    I’m proud veteren of the U.S. Navy today. Good job mates! Your country is proud of you.

  59. 59 Tim B
    April 13, 2009 at 18:13

    ‘The argument goes that theirs is a country without an effective government since 1991, that’s been largely abandoned by the outside world, that is in desperate need of money and food and that has had its fishing waters violated.’

    Ummm … you guys are aware that the Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency food supplies for delivery to Somalia, right?

  60. 60 Rose in Florida
    April 13, 2009 at 18:15

    BBC, Why not bring a voice with experience as an insider and outsider, like Somali-American rapper K’Naan? I would be VERY interested to hear his take on this situation, as he is a survivor AND a positive person.

  61. April 13, 2009 at 18:16

    The Somali pirates are nothing more than criminals. To paint them as “heroes” or “Robin Hoods” is patently ridiculous. I am proud of the way the USA responded. We should attack their land bases. These guys don’t understand diplomacy – only force.

  62. 62 Rhoda
    April 13, 2009 at 18:17

    The moment you point your gun at someone and demand what you want, you have lost the argument. What the pirates did was not brave, it was very foolish.

  63. 63 Ken from Santa Fe, New Mexico
    April 13, 2009 at 18:17

    How many miles off its coast does Somalia claim as its fishing waters?

  64. 64 Deron in Portland, Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 18:18

    There has been an increase in “pirate” paraphenalia in the US, where pirates (in a traditional sense) has become “cool”.. .Kids walk around with pirate t-shirts (skull and crossbones), houses have pirate flags… there are now pirate stores in the US. In a sense, many folks in the US glorify pirates, but of course, when an attack actually happens to an American ship, suddenly pirates are condemned (sp?) and considered atrocious people.

    On another note, I believe it is time for the US and other countries to work with Somalia and the problems with piracy and poverty in that country.

  65. 65 steve
    April 13, 2009 at 18:18

    Wow, this show is said. The Somali in London is saying “innocent” is a relative term. So it’s okay therefore for people she deems to not be innocent to be taken hostage at gunpoint?

  66. 66 steve
    April 13, 2009 at 18:21

    When people in their nice cars get carjacked in Los Angeles, are the carjackers considered to be “heroes” to the left because they are redistriubuting wealth? Please, this has the be the silliest topic ever on WHYS and I hope it was done in a mocking manner.

  67. 67 nicole from the usa
    April 13, 2009 at 18:21

    Poverty can make people do drastic things. Most Americans do not understand the problems facing Somalia. Providing infrastructure and development will help deter Somalians from piracy.

  68. April 13, 2009 at 18:22

    I don’t think that tankers and yachts are over fishing the Samali coast. That is not the issue. As to Samalia being ignored. Based on their line of thinking, then if a child that is neglected is ignored by its neighbor then the child would be justified in armed robbery. That line of logic is ludicrous. These men have found that piracy brings them money. In the same way that drug smuggling brings money to Mexico and South America. To call either of them justified and right in their action makes very little sense. Action must be taken.

  69. April 13, 2009 at 18:23

    The international community has tried for the past 18 years to put together a national government but it has repeatedly collapsed due to the feuding Somali factions in other words the failure was due to the behaviour of Somalis no one else. Can someone explain to me what the crew of the Maersk Alabama have done to deserve to be kidknapped. Container ships do not steal fish from anyone least of all Somalia. Pirates should be blown out of the water paying ransoms simply encourages them

  70. April 13, 2009 at 18:23

    if I am struggling and poor can I go to a bank or store, kidnap the manager and take all the employees hostage? what’s the difference? The reason for doing an action does not defend the action.

    Not only did they take the ship hostage, the ship was bringing food aid to Somalia. Is this the way we are repaid for our generosity?

  71. 71 steve
    April 13, 2009 at 18:24

    Give me a break Ros, they are not doing this acts of piracy to bring attention to somalia, they are doing it to get money for themselves….

  72. April 13, 2009 at 18:24

    I don’t see how people can look at the act of taking over property that does not belong to them at gun point is seen as an act of being a hero.

    The bottom line is that when one points any type of gun at unarmed people it’s simply terrorism.

    Take the same example and change the location to a home. It them becomes a home invasion and in my home I would not hesitate for a second to shoot that person down if I felt my life is in danger.

  73. 73 Fred in Portland OR
    April 13, 2009 at 18:25

    Pirates aren’t Heroes, Investment Bakers aren’t Heroes, Insurance Companies aren’t Heroes Car Companies aren’t Heroes. However I can’t seem to think how Somali Pirates could be linked to a global economic collapse.

    So of all the people causing pain and suffering in the world, Somali Pirates are the least of our worries.

  74. 74 Edmund Burke
    April 13, 2009 at 18:25

    After WWII the British did what they were told to do by their American allies and disbanded their Empire. Now we see the results of that decision – and it’s going to get steadily worse.

  75. 75 Paul Harbin, Waco-Tx.
    April 13, 2009 at 18:29

    Yes, these people are comparable to Robinhood, just the same … the many executives that were also ill-fated in their principles are also heroes. Yes, they are complete heroes.

    Hero; a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
    Villain; . A vile, wicked person; a man extremely depraved, and capable or guilty of great crimes; a deliberate scoundrel; a knave; a rascal; a scamp.

    If these men are heroes, who are the villains?

  76. 76 Joe Portland
    April 13, 2009 at 18:30

    Definitely not heroes. Anyone who takes a hostage is not a hero.

    One might be sympathetic with the pirates if they were demanding the UN and rich nations to help protect their seas from incidents like the dumping of toxic waste. If these pirates were demanding an enforcement of the fishing rights off their coastal waters, again one might be sympathetic.

    These guys simply take hostages for money. The money when delivered is not used to support fixing the greivances I have heard listed on the show. Seems like a pretty big disconnect to me.

  77. April 13, 2009 at 18:30

    Why would anyone think that their existance or needs in life are more important than someone elses? We are not talking about greedy crew members or having stolen goods, these pirates are attacking working people just trying to do there job, not the shipping owners. They are criminals and no matter what their reasons, they are still criminals and need to be treated as such.

  78. 78 Charley, Portland, US
    April 13, 2009 at 18:31

    If the Somalis wish to defend their pirate crews as protectors of their territorial waters from foreign fishing fleets; then they need to fine-tune their efforts.

    Boarding crews might target ONLY illegal fishing boats; and quickly free any cargo or private vessel that they board which turns out not to be a fishing boat.

    As long as they indiscriminately attack & hold ALL ships for ransom; they will not gain world sympathy for their legitimate complaints regarding the systematic plunder of their fishing grounds.

  79. 79 Deron, US
    April 13, 2009 at 18:31

    There has been an increase in “pirate” paraphenalia in the US, where pirates (in a traditional sense) has become “cool”.. .Kids walk around with pirate t-shirts (skull and crossbones), houses have pirate flags… there are now pirate stores in the US. In a sense, many folks in the US glorify pirates, but of course, when an attack actually happens to an American ship, suddenly pirates are condemned (sp?) and considered atrocious people.

    The piracy in Somalia has been going on for some time now… that an American ship/captain is involved, we have an major international news story. If the pirates were looking for an increase in attention to their concerns, they’ve done it by choosing the right ship.

  80. 80 A.J.
    April 13, 2009 at 18:32

    It seems to me that very few stories about Somali piracy have anything to do with fishing. Sure these incidents bring attention to the plight of the Somali people, but until there is a functioning government willing to deal with their people and the outside world in a respectful and constructive manner, Somalia’s problems will continue increase unabated. Governments, aid organizations and NGOs are willing to help the Somali people solve their humanitarian issues. It is the Somali government, or lack of one, that is mostly responsible for the political upheaval. Unfortunately, the systems in place around the world are still the best way to address Somalia’s problems. These pirates are attacking the SYMBOLS, not the real problem.

  81. 81 Elizzabeth
    April 13, 2009 at 18:32

    I am a supporter of aid to Africa. Hearing that Somali’s find the pirates heros,after they took decent, working men hostage makes me think the US should not give Somalia a dime.
    Our people have a right to safety. I’m tired of the world wanting aid, while they attack us.

  82. 82 martin, Berlin
    April 13, 2009 at 18:33

    I’m Ugandan living in Berlin,Germany and I think the Captain is the real hero here!
    who ever claims that the Somali”Pirates” are heroes is simply living in another universe. the word “pirate” alone says every thing. The pirates should rather help reinstate order and sanity to their country. The weaponry and the fuel they use in “pirating” would feed lots of starving Somalis. This pirates attach innocent vessels and it is a crime in international Law.
    The whole might of International law should be brought down on them without FEAR OR FAVOUR!. At this time and age, lawlessness is simply out of tune. The Somalis should stop blaming the International Community for their failed state!. Get rid of war-lord mentality and establish soberness and order!

  83. 83 Saad
    April 13, 2009 at 18:34

    I do agree with Mr Abduli. Somalia has continuously been neglected.The economic condition in Somalia is worst. And economic strained had made young guys pirates. By such acts they have drawn attention of international community so it does mean they have done something for Somalia. It is high that international community should help Somalia on political ground and on economical ground as well.

  84. 84 Mary, Oregon
    April 13, 2009 at 18:35

    I have said already that I don’t have a problem with the Somalis going after people who are illegally fishing and dumping. However, how is use of international waters for commerce a reason to take these ships and hold their crews for ransom? It doesn’t seem to generating a good deal of good feelings towards them. This is an observation from the sidelines.

  85. 85 Reverend Wallace Ryan
    April 13, 2009 at 18:36

    What about Paul Watson and the Sea Shepard Society? Are not their ramming of boats on the high seas just as evil and immoral as the pirates off Somalia?

    Why are these eco-thugs considered heroes and the starving people of Somalia villians?

  86. 86 Caitlin
    April 13, 2009 at 18:36

    We get involved, we are targeted. We do not get involved, we should expect to be targeted… The pirates are heroes because they stand up to America? What have we done to require standing-up to? The world cannot lay every act of violence at our doorstep! We are not omnipotent, we are not without our share of fault but this is absurd!
    Somalia must fix itself – nation building does not work, change must come from within.

  87. 87 Dave, Ohio
    April 13, 2009 at 18:37

    These pirates seem to be similar to the us border guards. They think of themselves as fulfilling a role that the govt isn’t. In truth they are vigilanties at best and terrorists/murderers at worst. It doesn’t matter if there is a stable govt or not.

  88. 88 Rose in Florida
    April 13, 2009 at 18:37


  89. April 13, 2009 at 18:38

    Even though I’m a relatively rich American, I would love the chance to be a pirate. It would be an exciting and glamorous job and it pays well. It’s not hard to see how Somalis are seduced into this lifestyle. But they are hardly heroes.

  90. 90 Cris from El Paso, Texas
    April 13, 2009 at 18:39

    Why do we continually try to place people in these situations as “heroes” or “villains”? These are counter-productive terms. The situation seems to be much more complex than these terms can define. It just makes it easier for the Western world to create political policy, but not to truly address the issue and its causes.

  91. 91 Waqar, Lahore Pakistan
    April 13, 2009 at 18:41

    In my opinion, for a crime there can’t be any excuse. It is pathetic to say that “Somalia is in desperate need of money and food and that has had its fishing waters violated”. Intension is the most important factor of every crime. Pirates did not have any agenda for the Somalis nation at large; there intention was confined just to hijack the ship and get monetary gain

  92. 92 Professor Errol Mendes
    April 13, 2009 at 18:42

    The Somalie pirates should be examined in a much larger context. The piracy is a result of a failed state that Somalia finds itself in for over a decade. The challenge of failing or failed states is one of the greatest challenges the international community faces. It is linked to the terrorism has changed the world after 9/11 that came out of the failed state of Afghanistan and the challenges we are all facing in North Korea and even in parts of Pakistan.

    We need to examine what the rest of the world can do to restore a semblance of normal state governance to Somalia just as we are desperately trying to do in Afghanistan where courageous soldiers from Canada, the U.S. , Australia and European countries are risking and losing their lives. While the past has shown it is extraordinarily difficult to restore normal government to Somalia as the U.S. found out in the early 1990s, we can not give up the efforts otherwise the situation may move from piracy in Somalia to much worse.

    Piracy off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen are only the tip of the global governance challenge facing the world as regards the failed state of Somalia and elsewhere.

    Errol Mendes from Canada via The Hague

  93. 93 Venessa
    April 13, 2009 at 18:44

    Please tell me how attacking people who have nothing to do with the conditions in Somalia make someone a hero? Two wrongs don’t make a right. I understand wanting to feed your family but the actions of these thugs surely don’t make that case.

    Perhaps their energy would be better spent dealing with their own countries ills. It is not the responisibility of the international community to fix their government.

  94. 94 Paul, San francisco
    April 13, 2009 at 18:44

    One of your guests made a very valid point, and one that really should become the topic of conversation, not whether the pirates are heroes or not:

    With all the international naval vessels off the Somali coast, and given the long empty hours that describe any course of patrol work, why aren’t the international ships driving off illegal fishing boats and preventing dumping by commercial vessels. I don’t believe for a moment that the Somalis pirates are doing anything other than making themselves rich by seizing on the internal disorder; nevertheless, this is a no-brainer. There is no reason why the international ships shouldn’t be protecting the Somali coast and while they patrol, driving off the pirates, the next priority should be to establish a foreign coastal patrol until the Somalis can patrol their on their own.

    There is still no excuse for piracy, and the lack of murders by the pirates is merely a distraction.

  95. 95 John in Cleveland
    April 13, 2009 at 18:44

    These people are complaining about their waters and wanting others to solve their fishing and water polution problems. Somalia needs to clean house governmentally so that the government of somalia can enforce their coastal laws on polution and fishing just like the US is in charge of it’s own waters. I do not agree with your speakers at all. Somalia needs to patrol their own waters with their own governmental boats not pirates. And Somalia does not own an international water way as much as the US is the sole owner of the Great Lakes. I agree with your caller Stan from Portland.

  96. 96 Jason in Memphis
    April 13, 2009 at 18:47

    Somalia isn’t being helped by the pirates. The situation is quite the opposite. Somalia is in the situation it is BECAUSE of these pirates. The ransom money goes to a very few who fund more piracy and conflicts.

    People have said on the program that Somalia has asked for assistance and no one has responded. This is factually and historically untrue. Countries around the world have sent aid, tried their hand at peacemaking, and supplied various other aid. Somalis continue to attack the very hands that have helped and fed them through decades of famine and conflict. They say they want help but when help comes they refuse or attack it.

  97. 97 Erik, San Francisco
    April 13, 2009 at 18:48

    Piracy in Somalia is yet another symptom of an increasing population in a world of dwindling resources. This type of desperation will become increasingly common as long as we continue to destroy the natural capital upon which much of the world depends.

  98. 98 Bert
    April 13, 2009 at 18:48

    Sorry, let’s not give this fisheries twist any legitimacy. Any criminal can “justify” his actions, whether it’s a troubled childhood or irrelevant excuse. The fact remains, in spite of all the fantastic excuses, that society at large has to protect itself.

    What a bunch of apologists. If fisheries is at issue, then let’s have that debate. Taking on cargo ships without ever mentioning fisheries UNTIL NOW sounds unbelievably lame.

    Pirates have good intent? Had the pirates had killed their hostages indiscriminately, they would not get very far demanding ransom. It does not show “good intentions” on their part.

    The US tried to stabilize the situation in Somalia in the 1990s. We all know how that ended. If anything at all, this might make a good case for recolonization. Is that what the apologists really want?

  99. 99 Rose in Florida
    April 13, 2009 at 18:50


  100. 100 Britt, Portland, Oregon (of course!)
    April 13, 2009 at 18:51

    When I first heard that the three pirates holding the captain of the cargo ship were killed, I instantly saw the disparity in how we value life. Why is this one life more important than the three? The only answer I could see is that the people making these decisions are doing so through the lens of global class and caste systems. These Somalians were clearly driven to these desperate actions by poverty and the deaf ear of more powerful forces, such as the US goverment. Like many “terrorist” acts, these are deperate cries for help when the peaceful words of individuals and communities have been ignored. I think most people can understand doing desperate things to feed and protect their families. I was also quite dissapointed in President Obama’s public response. Clearly military intervention has been the default mode of operation, but one of the reasons that we as an international community support his work so far is because of the holistic nature of his approach. Can’t Obama see that supporting a sustainable social solution, not neccesarily another military debacle, is the smartest route to stopping piracy?

  101. 101 Paul Harbin, Waco-Tx.
    April 13, 2009 at 18:52

    I suppose the Nasi SS were heroes in this line of thinking because they put attention on racisim in europe?

  102. April 13, 2009 at 18:53

    The pirates aren’t heros, they’re cowards. They tied Richard Phillips up so he couldn’t defend himself. There were four of them and one of him. He wasn’t armed, they were armed. They’re cowards and the three who died got what they deserved.

  103. 103 Venessa
    April 13, 2009 at 18:56

    Why is it every nation that has trouble expects the western countries to provide aid, yet even when they do those countries getting charity are still not satisfied. Hands are always stretched out for more. As a US citizen I know my government has faults but it seems to me our country is damned if we do help and damned if we don’t.

  104. 104 john mutahi, Kenya
    April 13, 2009 at 18:59

    The Somali pirates are only engaged in piracy for monetary gains. They have pushed real estate property prices up in Nairobi with their ill-gotten ransom money. These are criminals and should be dealt with as so. The issue of protecting their sovereignity does not arise as the Somali people have rejected any efforts by international community to form a stable government which can be mandated to patrol the sea. These pirates are no different from terrorists and suicide bomber who attack innocent people at random.

  105. 105 Jon in the USA
    April 13, 2009 at 18:59

    The world should have no patience with piracy. I believe that many are lured to this practice out of desperation, however most are continue this because of greed.

    The situation in Somalia has been left alone by the world after the well publicized American pull-out. I have met many really great citizens of Somalia over the years and believe that if the world could come together they could help the government begin the process of gaining control once again .

    I believe that part of the solution is multi-national military control waters and assisting the Somalia government wrest control of the control country from the warlords.

  106. 106 Daniel
    April 13, 2009 at 19:00

    Nevermind the ransom money, it seems to me that if the pirates truely had their country in mind they would have taken the cargo ship full of supplies to port and distributed to those in need. Either way, they are nothing more than petty criminals.

  107. 107 Tyler
    April 13, 2009 at 19:02

    I have no sympathy for the pirates and I am very satisfied that the US
    Navy used force. We cannot have pirates being rewarded with ransom or
    this will be come an epidemic. Obama made the right move. I hope the
    Chinese and other counties will act the same who have similar
    situations with pirates so we can have a unified message. Young guys
    or not, these are acts of piracy.

    Boise Idaho, USA

  108. 108 Alan in Arizona
    April 13, 2009 at 19:10

    How can the tribal elders allow this type of action? I guess only those with guns have power there! Make it easy on everyone. Put a security person on each ship trained to shot a hole in their boats and let them rush back home or sink. Nice and simple, get to close and have your boat sunk! Let them put their boats to use rescuing other pirates. They can charge each other! Good way to get their economy started. Wishful thinking ! I know!

  109. 109 David, Hamilton, Bermuda
    April 13, 2009 at 19:20

    Am I the only one who notices the ‘cottage industry’ being built up around the ‘delicate negociations’ required to release these ships. Sort of like the arms industry and the insurance industry getting together to equip the pirates and sell insurance against their actions. Quite a brilliant business plan.

  110. 110 Karl
    April 13, 2009 at 19:21

    Sorry!!! The pirates will attack the ships protecting the fishing grounds.

    They take advantage that the cargo ships are stupid enough not to be armed. Let the cargos carry some anti aircraft heavy machine guns and there will be no candidates for the title of heroes any more. They are just opportunists taking advantage of the weakness of their prey to have enormous sums easily.

  111. 111 Raimie
    April 13, 2009 at 19:29

    A lot of people seem to have a problem understanding the difference between discussing and condoning. Just because these acts of piracy are irrefutably wrong doesn’t mean there aren’t underlying issues that can be addressed in an objective manner. Arming the seas to protect ships is only half the battle…the other half is understanding what environments are making piracy so prevalent.

  112. 112 Andre Roux
    April 13, 2009 at 19:30

    The Piracy off the coast of Somalia is indicative of the tolerance we have come to accept around the world towards those who break the law. We somehow think that there must be a reason other than the obvious behind it all. Whether people are rich or poor the reasons remain the same: greed. When people are hungry they can be excused for stealing food, not hijack ships in order to finance lavish lifestyles. The incomes derived from these activities are not those of desperate people but a gang of well organized criminals. History have taught us the only way to deal with them is to destroy them to the core.

  113. 113 Robert in Indianapolis (USA)
    April 13, 2009 at 20:08

    We’re not talking about protesters or non-violent actions like The Boston Tea Party. Pirates act with the threat of violence. By that measure, warlords hold their power through war. Somalia isn’t in ruins from organized government, but by the avoidance of it. Pirates are just opportunistic thugs that have to pay their toll to a warlord, who in turn feeds his war.

  114. 114 Pat, Ruston, LA
    April 13, 2009 at 21:06

    A hero does not capture and hold captive, people who have not harmed the pirates or the nation of Somalia. While the situation in Somalia is dire and a humanitarian crisis, attacking, kidnapping and imprisoning merchant sailors merely doing their job is not an acceptable response to the plight or their country. A stable government in Somalia is the best outcome for the people of Somalia, but it will be years before a government will have the ability to govern and reintroduce the rule of law in a lawless country. But then the last thing the pirates want is a government in Somalia. A government will rein in their activities. Until a government can be established, we may see much more blood shed. The events that have transpired in the last week has changed the dynamics of the environment. The easy picking of unarmed ships will come to an end, following the response of the French as well as the United States more governments and shipping companies will arm their ships. This will only encourage more armed replies to similar attacks.

  115. 115 gary
    April 13, 2009 at 21:21

    Where in the statement: “Give me money or I’ll murder.” may one find good? Nowhere! Piracy on the high seas is not a craft practiced by men who love familiy life; but by men who love money.

  116. 116 viola
    April 13, 2009 at 21:42

    Pirates are not heroes. They’re criminals who take what they want by force. I’ve seen no legitimate argument or justification for it in any of the posts. The whole idea of being civilized is not to use force to get what we want. That’s what we teach our children if we have any feeling for our fellow man whatsoever.

    Using some of those arguments I would be perfectly justified to arm myself and go rob my neighbor and then blame him for not helping me more.. What rot.

  117. 117 Matt Roberts
    April 13, 2009 at 22:03

    Many bloggers here have invoked the United Nations as some sort of solution to the current piracy problem. In my opinion, the U.N. has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be inefficient and corrupt. I saw it for myself when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer (1992-94). It’s even worse now, from what I can see and hear. Some of their ideas are good (UNESCO, for example), but implementation is just terrible. If they’d just be shoved out of New York City to someplace like Geneva, I’d cheer. If the U.N. were to die tomorrow, I’d cheer even louder.

  118. 118 Tim B
    April 13, 2009 at 22:08

    Someone asked: ‘When I first heard that the three pirates holding the captain of the cargo ship were killed, I instantly saw the disparity in how we value life. Why is this one life more important than the three?’

    Errr… probably for the same reason that the same approach would be used if three American citizens took a US citizen hostage in the USA. That is, they are criminals and he is an innocent man trying to take food aid to Somalis. Hope that’s not too hard for you to understand?

  119. 119 Nas
    April 13, 2009 at 23:03

    I am a Somali BUT I am not a pirate. I do not condone the action of these pirates however, I do have sympathy to those that detain illegal fishing trawlers and vessels that dump toxic waste in the seas off Somalia.

    There is a solution in solving this crisis and that is the international community MUST reengage in the domestic problems IN Somalia.

    Obama administration must break away from past failed policies used by the previous administration.


  120. 120 Yillki
    April 14, 2009 at 00:46

    Somali pirates are criminals not heroes and should be treated as such. Many people seem to have been convinced by the pirate’s propaganda that they are justified in their criminal activity because Somali fisheries have been ransacked and their ocean poisoned by evil ‘Westerners’. The main foreign fishing effort in the north Indian Ocean during the past 30 years has been by South Korea and to a lesser extent by the former USSR and East Germany. So far as the dumping of toxic waste is considered, there are no clearly documented instances. Even if there has been some dumping, the idea that the whole 2500 kilometers of the Somali coastline and a large area of adjacent ocean is a toxic wasteland is nonsense.
    Perhaps it is now time the security services and police turned the heat on those Somali expatriates in the UK, Canada and other places who are involved with or receive cash from these criminal gangs.

  121. April 14, 2009 at 04:48

    Here’s a great solution from another BBC forum.

    “impose a 50 or 100 mile limit to somali boats that they must stay within, and use the same limit to keep the spanish,etc fish poachers out.Patrol the limit with military force and sink all boats that breach the limit,both ways.Use money to help feed the somali’s and set up some law in the country.
    jack parker, newton stewart ”

    Somalia doesn’t hold the exclusive concession on piratical behavior. I think the cretins of Wall Street have clearly demonstrated that. Parker and Stewart may be on to a way to enlist the remainder of Somalia’s population in bettering their lot in more sustainable ways .

  122. 122 Ravichandran
    April 14, 2009 at 06:39

    The pirates deserve no sympathy and they should be annihilated. Why not we learn a lesson after Iraq and Afghanistan. We shouldn’t attempt to install democracy in a country but basic requirements like medicine and poverty alleviating measures will go a long way. We are not there to help Somalia but fellow humans who happen to born and live in that land.

  123. 123 smithcopper
    April 14, 2009 at 10:08

    I was happy to see the navy do their job and the captain to escape. Three more vessels have been hijacked …one from Greece two Egyptian …France got one of their ships back and Russia brought down the hammer. Why would anyone suggest the somali pirates are heroes?

  124. 124 Roberto
    April 14, 2009 at 12:11

    RE “” The counter is that these pirates aren’t Robin Hoods, but gangsters who are keen to make themselves rich not to serve the greater good. “”

    —————- Always wondered how the American public could find Bonnie & Clyde, Billie the Kid or John Dillinger heroic. Then I grew up and understood the good guys ain’t always good and the bad guys are often not that bad, but rather fall in by poor circumstance into making poor choices.

    These pirates are just illiterate kids guided by terrible circumstance into what has proven to be a lucrative profession, the only work available to them. They do spread their wealth around back in their villages and thusly seen as heros.

    They are going up against fabulously wealthy magnates driving global warming and global economic fraud. These magnates refuse to even give crews the means to defend themselves, and what with several hundred various crews of various ships estimated being held hostage, they are seen as expendable as the 3 pirates which will killed.

    Such is the lot of us lesser mortals, we’re expendable, which means these vessels become fair game in such a world where nobody but the magnates counts for anything.

  125. 125 Abram
    April 14, 2009 at 12:22

    May be they are heroes in the sense that they have been able to win the attention of mainstream media, and our attention — the passive media consumers. When was the last time that everybody in the globe has shown an interest on NEWS that comes out of Africa? Look at here on WHYS: The topic from April 8; „Of course Africans would like to leave Africa…
    has only 22 comments, whereas, this one, up until now, has122 comments. It’s a tragedy that in our world, only Violence and Terror sell well.

  126. 126 Nas
    April 14, 2009 at 12:35

    I am shocked by the amount of ignorance that is being commented on Somali piracy. There have been proven evidence to prove that illegal toxic waste dumping off the coast of Somalia with the approval of nortoruious Somali warlords and the cooperation of European waste contractors has been happening for a number of years.

    It really seems that most of these negative and ill-informed comments are from people who are really just envious that a bunch of young Somali kids are getting world international attention and making a large amount of money.

    And by the way at least now Somali fishing livestock is thriving now. It is worth over $6 billion (per annum!) and in my opinion, Somalis should benefit from it not foreigners!

  127. 127 Tom D Ford
    April 14, 2009 at 18:25

    I think it is interesting how similar those Somali pirates are to some of the Deregulated corporations we’ve seen, like Enron, AIG, etc, in that they take hold of part of the economy and hold the people hostage for money.

    Now, considering the admirable effectiveness of the US Navy Special Ops snipers wouldn’t it be nice to have Financial Special Ops Teams who could be sent in to search out and find all of the people who created Derivatives, and who kept them from being regulated and watched over, and all of the financial schemes that then resulted in our current world Re-Depression, and bring them to justice.

    Financial Special Ops Snipers would be teams of well financed lawyers with the mandate and resources to search out the root causes of financial schemes and scams and bring them to a stop.

  128. 128 Richard Berger
    April 14, 2009 at 22:26

    How much have foreign vessels reduced the availability of fish by dumping industrial, nuclear waste in the waters off of Somalia?

  129. April 15, 2009 at 06:50

    The somali pirates, they have a large surport behind them ,that is why the world is finding it very difficult to over this problem,why because,the result of poverty,over corruption,slow and poor economic development,division in Africa, over poverty etc.the whole Africa is divided under every politician that is why Africa is like this today,I think Africa should try and quicking up the AU with power and unity to build AFRICA , every politician should be controled and permited by the AU,(permit for politics,thank you bye.

  130. 130 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 15, 2009 at 17:04

    US action is creating complecation’s in sea world, being an warior & popularity as anti muslims may open doors for ALQUIDA NAVAL SQUAD.

  131. 131 Nas
    April 15, 2009 at 19:06

    Let’s end this debate with the words of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates

    “As long as you’ve got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there’s really no way in my view to control it [piracy] unless you get something on land [Somalia] that begins to change the equation for these kids” (cnn.com)

    It is simple and Obama must heed the advice from his very own defense secretary.

    To end the piracy phenomenon there MUST be a solution in solving the internal problems in Somalia.

  132. April 15, 2009 at 20:14

    So should the international community be coming down hard on the pirates or concentrating on listening to the reasons that Somalis have so few options at the moment?

    They are not mutually exclusive. Do both!

    The pirates should have surrendered when the warship got there. There was no way they were going to let the pirates get away. Surrender, go to jail for a couple of years, and maybe get out. Much better than getting killed by sharp shooters.

    The heroes are the crew that fought off the pirates. It’s not good to speak ill of the dead, but the pirates were just failed robbers who did their job badly.

  133. 133 Dag
    April 16, 2009 at 10:05

    As a mariner, I strongly abhor this activity.
    In fact, I strongly disagree with any form of murder and pillage, anywhere.

    That also includes the action taken by GWB & Tony Blair and their acolytes in
    Iraq, just to name one case.
    The only difference I see, is that the plunder of Iraq is on a much larger scale
    than the piracy on the N – East coast of Africa.

    And that the Somali pirates lack spin doctors to cook up Bull….. stories
    to justify their actions.

  134. 134 Lawrence
    April 17, 2009 at 06:19

    The Somali pirates are scum not heroes and they should be eliminated as the vermin that they are. A solution to this problem is to organize convoys escorted by naval ships and as soon as a boat approaches these ships , it is blasted out of the water, no questions asked.

  135. 135 Tony Montange
    April 22, 2009 at 10:53

    I do agree with the pirates. For years their seas have been robbed of fish and used to dump nuclear waste. Now we want them to do nothing, wither and die. However they don’t agree with this idea and use weapons and some violence to feed their family. The price they pay is high any search on google will show you they are the ones who die, not the innocent crews.

    The American action to betray the pirates is not one to applaud. It is cowardice to kill the pirates while you are still negotiating and dangerous for future victims. It personally reminds me of a long standing American tradition to betray the indians. Lure the warriors to a place for negotiation and kill them.

    I think self-reflection is in place here. If you destroy people’s livelihood you shouldn’t be surprised they will rebel.

  136. April 23, 2009 at 14:05

    Interesting article: http://links.org.au/node/1011

    Is the West equally guilty but gets off scot-free because they have the money to cover it up?

  137. April 23, 2009 at 20:50

    The somali pirates they can never be the heroe,because,they have the lower hand today,the earlier the better,solution is the answer,they can become the heroe one day,so far as they can hijack more than two ships and get money.the world should do enough to stop them before is too late.

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