Friday, January 11, 2013

1/11/2012 Namazu Speaks Out On NGOs


NAMAZU, Former Japanese Demigod, Rock Album Cover Model, Analyst

My Dear Bipeds:

  None of you were around to witness the agony that the Dutch and English "East India" Companies visited upon the Spice Islands. Being a 3,000 year old giant catfish, former demigod, I was of course, around and occasionally cruised the vicinity of their operations. These two companies represented unregulated capitalism in its most virulent form. While many of my Tea Party friends look back upon the era of these two corporate giants as a sort of golden age of economic freedom I can tell you that it was golden only for upper management and the directors. These "companies" ran their own courts and law enforcement systems and operated their own powerful private navies. I noticed that in more than a few places their "private navies" had littered the seafloor with dead bipeds, and the hulks of ships. How would you like to find that in your living room? Perhaps you can understand why I have a very negative attitude towards corporate muscle, especially anywhere near the water. Well, The're bacccccccck!

 Today's maritime corporate muscle is represented by both real old time capitalist ownership, and also by non profit corporations. The modern term for them seems to be NGO or Non Governmental Organizations. Examples might include Sea Shepard, Green Peace, or the new "maritime security force" "Typhon". To my mind, the catfish mind, a mind capable of in depth analysis; the proliferation of these NGOs is bad news. I was happy to see the East India Companies depart the area and slip into the dustbin of history. I'll be just as relieved when the present host of NGOs go the way of the dinosaur. 

 My cousin Jack, the Cajun giant catfish, once described to me how he witnesses the U.S. Coast Guard at New Orleans attempt to control the antics of Green Peace protesting the departure from port of a certain tanker. Nobody is "greener" than the Coast Guard they literally put their lives on the line daily to keep bad stuff from entering the water. Supposedly that was what Green Peace was attempting to be about as well. But their protest tactics could have easily caused a tanker collision on the Mississippi right in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Now Green Peace doesn't show much respect for biped cities, but cousin Jack likes to take human from once in a while and take in a little entertainment on Bourbon Street. So he wasn't too thrilled with the Green Peace antics and neither were the Coast Guardsmen present.

 Pirates are kind of the ultimate NGO. They seem to come and go through history. Right now they are on the upswing. Whether governments are trying to protect the marine environment from its' would be protectors like Green Peace, or deter piracy , of late governments have been fighting NGOs with NGOs. The world ocean, my home, is lousy with these NGOs. Contrary to popular belief maritime NGOs are not new. Your leader bipeds simply periodically apply a new name to the idea. This is probably because your leader bipeds are not students of history ( or anything else that I can determine). Of course I don't "study" it much either, at three thousand years of age I've simply lived through most of it. Really, I hear that you bipeds weren't much trouble upon the earth , particularly upon the seas, prior to about three thousand years ago. But call it what you will a "pirate's cabal", "The East India Company", Privateers, Green Peace, Typhon these organizations of the last 500 years through today are all non governmental organizations that exercise power on the world's oceans. Some are well meaning, some might actually do some good at least for a while, some like the pirates were rightly judged in the past as "the enemies of all mankind" and were promptly hanged upon capture, and fired upon when sighted. Today's navies play "catch and release" with them. This is proving ineffective, and the use of real warships for the purpose of suppressing these sea bandits is uneconomic. Enter the latest NGO, shades of the "private navies" of the East India companies. Let's examine "Typnon". 

The Typhon maritime security service is being formed to provide more economic escort service through pirate infested waters. It is basically a private for profit navy serving ship owners and their insurance providers.  The Typhon organization most closely resembles the old private navies of the East India Companies. Organizations like Typhon are popping up in ocean's most heavily traveled "shadow zones", a term modern naval experts sometime apply to basically ungoverned areas of the sea. Such areas are usually within relatively small craft reach from an adjacent coastal state that is itself either ungoverned or nautically weak.  These "shadow zones" are pirate magnets.

 Once the pirates manifest themselves and meet with some business success the world's navies soon appear on the scene and begin chasing $2,000 pirate skiffs with billion dollar war ships, occasionally catching the pirates and mostly letting them go in an uneconomic game of catch and release. Catch and release and the uneconomic force mismatch are the driving forces behind the growing NGO on NGO approach to piracy suppression. Catch and release doesn't suppress piracy or pirate organizations that are operating at a profit, no matter how many particular attacks are disrupted, or pirates captured (temporarily) or how many arms the pirates throw overboard. Eventually massive naval suppression efforts become prohibitively expensive. Thus failed naval efforts with uneconomic vessels creates the demand for the maritime security NGOs. 

 The Maritime Security NGOs are incapable due to both budgets and legal considerations of chasing the pirates ashore and cleaning out the pirates' shore based havens. They fall into a routine of effective and economic escort of organized convoys. The pirates persist and pick off the occasional non convoy participant or straggler. The region becomes less profitable for the pirates, and less expensive to operate in for the shipping companies, and the level of pirate activity becomes more tolerable from a naval view point. The NGO security organization stabilizes at a no growth but profitable level in a seemingly permanent market. New pirate dens emerge in previously unexploited "shadow areas" and the cycle repeats itself. Both the illegitimate NGO, the pirates and the legitimate NGO, the maritime private security force, are profit driven businesses that know they must grow or die.        

 My cousin Jack, the giant Cajun catfish of the Gulf of Mexico called a "myth" by the good Catholic Cajuns who would never use the term "demigod" ( see my essay on the reemployment rights of former demigods in response to protests by the religious right of my current employment) knew a guy a few hundred years ago who had a formula for piracy suppression. His name was Captain Woods Rogers, British governor of the Bahamas. His formula of shoot on verification of identity, hang the survivors, finally rid his area of responsibility and a region far beyond of pirate activity. His tactics could be modified for today's situation. The one large naval asset that is needed in a pirate suppression campaign today is an air capable ship. The purpose of this large naval asset is not to house and launch anti pirate boarding teams but primarily to provide air support for scaled down fast naval patrol boat pirate chasers, and some logistic support for the patrol boats which are large enough to house their crew and boarding teams but need periodic resupply and refueling to stay on scene for the needed duration. Super carriers need not apply. U.S. flat topped amphibious warfare ships are near perfect as are the smaller carriers and helicopter carriers of many nations currently cooperating in piracy suppression. 

 Emulating Capt. Rogers rules of engagement with a nod toward today's more liberal sensibilities, or "woosieness" depending on your personal attitude the World's navies would probably follow rules of engagement something like this. 

1. On sight of suspected pirates signal suspects to stop.

2. If suspects fail to heed signals and radio calls fire ONE warning shot or automatic weapon burst across bow.

3. If suspects do not stop their vessel upon warning shot , shoot to disable propulsion. Note this is the point where suspects are at real risk of becoming "collateral damage", but they have been warned twice at this point.

4. Upon stopping vessel by  compliance with signals, warning shot, or by disabling fire, surface boarding team if on scene, or air craft approaches to observe activity. If weapons are spotted and any weapon is pointed at aircraft or approaching boarding craft fire to sink.

5. If weapons are being thrown over board film if possible, if not take sworn witness statements from boarding team and /or air crew, who ever had a clear view of the weapons dump.

6. Upon return of any surviving suspects to patrol craft hold "drum head court", to determine if weapons were aboard. If yes did they appear to be of military like quality. Can it be determined that there was more than one fire arm aboard as might be legitimately in the possession of the master? If the answer to all of these is yes, and it usually is, the prisoners should be declared by the patrol boat master "pirate suspects". They should be secured aboard in restraints while file folders with sworn statements and a report of the "on board preliminary hearing is prepared". In addition to the air capable ship the counter piracy task force should also be served by a "holding pen" of some sort afloat or ashore to receive prisoners and a naval intelligence unit. Upon receipt of prisoners naval intelligence professionals should interrogate to get whatever information they can about bases ashore, ""mother ships", etc.. Then the search may begin for a nation state trial venue at whatever speed best manages the population of the holding pen. It is probable that most courts won't convict on the folders prepared by naval task force and the naval task force won't be able to provide witnesses in each case. But the naval task force should make an effort to aid conviction sporadically so that some long term sentences are handed down and receive publicity. In the event of refusal to prosecute most detainees will have spent about a year out of the pirate camp. Repatriation of released detainees need not be direct or expeditious. 

 Now I know this offends the liberal American sense of due process, but remember this isn't a traditional criminal law enforcement operation this is a military piracy suppression operation and need not follow precise law enforcement models until any prisoners are well clear of the area of operations. The goal isn't arrest and prosecution it is the elimination of the profit motive in piracy in the area and the imposition of unacceptable risk to the pirate cabal.  This basic concept of imposition of unacceptable risk coupled with destruction of profit opportunity is the basic formula that my cousin Jack observed with the successful anti piracy campaign of Capt. Woods Rogers. Woods Rogers of course was of the opinion, common in his time, of "spare the gallows spoil the pirate". By focusing on his goals we can accomplish the same thing without the gallows, but the more aggressive rules of engagement will at first result in more dead pirates than we see now. If you can't accept that dead pirates are a necessary part of pirate suppression than you don't know Jack. Once the pirates have been severely depressed naval coalitions must beef up Coast Guard like forces in the nearest responsible and capable adjacent coastal state before with drawing. The alternative to the Woods Rogers model is creating permanent pirate/ security NGO markets in every "shadow area" of the world's oceans.

 What is the danger in the proliferation of armed legitimate NGOs? You bipeds with your ineffective national governments could be creating the proxy forces that can turn fishing and mineral rights disagreements into naval warfare. If you have been following the series "How Far Will The Dragon Swim?" here in the AAB blog space you are aware of the bitter disputes in the South and East China Seas between China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and others. China is the aggressor but is unlikely to resort to hired guns because their entire claim of "ownership" of the China Seas is based on "effective administration". The dragon has shown a willingness to patrol right up to the beaches of its neighbors with naval and Coast Guard like forces. China has gone as far as armed recon in force into Japanese waters. Behaving like the thug state that that it is China has not stopped short of what amounts to acts of war against Vietnam (machine gunning unarmed naval personnel planting a Vietnamese flag on an off shore reef), the Philippines (armed incursions into disputed territorial waters), and Japan (armed recon in force into Japan's territorial sea as documented by long recognized treaty). Off of Africa we have seen NGO fisheries enforcement organizations at work under government contract. In fact it is believed that some of the Somali pirates began as a failed attempt at forming a Coast Guard for a failed state to protect the local fisheries from which there was a rapid descent into Piracy. NGO armed fisheries enforcement has a mixed performance record but not bad enough to scare off coastal nations that don't want to risk state vessel on state vessel confrontations with a more powerful naval power. Despite the attraction of "plausible denial", and legal argument over what constitutes an "act of state" . The resort to NGO offshore resource enforcement is a sure formula to start the shooting sooner rather than later.

 Failed environmental enforcement has led to the formation of NGO oceanic environmental "watch dogs" like Green Peace and the less reckless Sea Shepard organizations. Such organizations have a strong tendency to degenerate into reckless navigational protest tactics. These activities respond to a perceived inadequacy of resource protection law enforcement  activity by fisheries enforcement organizations and Coast Guard like organizations. The rise of the NGO environmental watch dogs isn't the cure for fisheries and other oceanic resource deterioration , it is often a new danger to the environment considering what wrecked and sunken ships can do to the marine environment. Their presence at sea does not lend to an atmosphere of orderliness or legal compliance. When it comes to the general lawlessness that  characterizes life at sea today these particular NGOs aren't helping out, they are part of the problem.

 One of the legitimate tactics of the legitimate NGOs, particularly those focused on oceanic resource protection might be called "law-fare", the funding of endless law suits aimed at driving companies that don't adhere to the NGO's view of good oceanic resource conservation out of business. No doubt some of the targets of such "law-fare" deserve no quarter, but that doesn't stop the suits from cluttering the maritime and admiralty courts, crowding calendars, and dockets, delaying settlements, and generally adding to the impression of maritime business that the courts offer no solution and encouraging the formation of still more NGOs.

 Here is the bottom line bipeds. The world needs vastly expanded Coast Guard services. Coast Guard services are distinguished from naval services by smaller ships armed for law enforcement vice combat weaponry and law enforcement mission focus. The world needs "right sized" naval forces not just down sized, with a global naval tool box with "tools" suitable for all missions. The United States is a four coast country (Atlantic, including the Gulf ; Pacific, Great Lakes (connected to the sea by the St. Lawrence Seaway and forming an international boundary area with Canada), and the Arctic ocean. We are served by a Coast Guard with fleets and air arms for only three of the coasts with the Arctic having no persistent Coast Guard presence. The entire Coast Guard for this vast shore line and EEZ is only slightly larger than the New York City Police department. If, in an emergency, the U.S. Coast Guard threw its entire Reserve and Auxiliary components into the surge response; the entire force might rival in size a combination of the New York City Police and Fire Departments. This force is in the middle of its largest ship, boat, and aircraft acquisition program called "the Deep Water project" since 1790 and there isn't a dollar in the program for a real persistent Arctic presence. The job of policing the ocean commons or even just our portion of it can't be done on the cheap.

 Naval Forces must be right sized. That doesn't always mean smaller. India  for example needs a combat capable Navy that can dominate a single ocean, and cover a number of other ancillary naval tasks such as coastal disaster relief, and "presence"and "projection" missions. They are in good shape with one or two aircraft carrier tasks forces.  The U.S. by contrast, has mutual defense and cooperation treaty commitments around the world and actually needs 11 aircraft carrier task forces to meet its present standing commitments.  We have 9 available as this is written. This combat capability short fall is not the only correction needed in right sizing the U.S. Navy. For participation in counter piracy groups the U.S. Navy sometimes finds itself "shooting flies with an elephant gun". With its many missions across the entire range of the world's oceans the U.S.Navy has an increasing need for particular  mission specific smaller ships as well as sufficient traditional combat capability to meet commitments. Right sizing eventually pays economic dividends but until it is done, especially when a navy is running many "legacy" vessels from a time when the main threat was state on state traditional naval war fare.

 As I said in my recent essay on the Commons, the sea is part of the global commons, and the commons are troubled. The sea hasn't been in a worse state of near anarchy since the days of East India companies. The global failure to enforce international law, provide the services such as enforcement of international conventions on migratory fish by adjacent coastal states , and
effectively suppress piracy is leading to the creation of ineffective legitimate NGOs and the proliferation of illegitimate or less than effective NGOs.  It is time for the world, not just the U.S. to properly fund the effective policing of the ocean commons. As I said before; Police the commons or die.  That isn't a threat from a giant earth quake generating catfish. That is a warning and plea to endangered bipeds. If you don't manage and police the commons you will go to war over the commons sooner or later. Once the shooting starts you may not be able to keep it in a naval context. As I explained to the religious right in my defense of my reemployment rights "demigod" is an unfortunate term that I never chose. I am a personification of natural forces. As such I am a product of the biped collective imagination. If you go.....I go. So again in my own self interest as well as Yours I urge you to manage the Commons...or surely you will die.

Your Friend ,

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