Greed, Lust, and Piracy
There are a few human reactions you can assume to be fairly consistent. Greed, fear, and denial top my list. Somali piracy is pure greed while the reaction by the international community to piracy is a varying combination of denial and fear. At some point the pirates’ greed will give way to their own fear of loss and they will begin to lose their edge. But that day is a long way off because they still having nothing to lose.
Around the first of October, alleged Somali pirates kidnapped an elderly Frenchwoman on a resort island in northern Kenya (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/02/kidnapped-french-woman-somalia-pirates). Two weeks earlier pirates murdered a British tourist and kidnapped his wife, removing her to the hinterlands of northern Somalia (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2036168/Kenya-kidnap-David-Tebbutt-shot-dead-wife-Judith-taken-pirates.html). It does not take much imagination to conclude that here a month later the British Mrs. Tebbutt is wishing she had been killed alongside her husband rather than suffer the countless abuses, sexual and otherwise, at the hands of gangs of ruthless Somali criminals. The pirates, driven by pure greed, and now lust, become more brazen with each day.
Reports by Michael G. Frodl, piracy risk analyst with C-Level Maritime Risks, indicate that the pirates are expanding operations to western Africa and the Malacca Strait. Did we really expect them to stay put? When I traded equities on Wall Street during the tech boom of the late nineties I witnessed firsthand the collapse of the stock market bubble. And in the first decade of the 21st century I saw residential property values rise to unbelievable values to a point where the market could no longer bear the values and the pricing collapsed. The common thread throughout these two market bubbles was the greed-driven hubris of the players in the games. During the stock market boom, traders and speculators thought the money would flow forever. They were invincible. With the 2008 housing bust it was the same thing. Realtors and home buyers had the same attitude of dominance. Speculators became more brazen in each of these markets to the degree that the markets could no longer bear the expansion. Most of these traders and real estate speculators burned out. Although the drivers are similar, the difference with the game of piracy is that people are sure to be killed in the process.
In an environment driven strictly by greed logic is rarely, if ever, applied. When the money is good one assumes it will last forever. Further, those on the winning side begin to feel almost invincible. The most unfortunate thing is that Somali pirate behavior has been and continues to be repeatedly reinforced with multi-million dollar payouts, increasing their confidence at every ransom paid. Warlords and foot-soldiers alike are experiencing an untold financial boon. These individuals are making a lot of money even by American standards so imagine how they must feel living in a country where the annual income is around $600 USD. They are untouchable. Wealthy. Above the law. If they see a nice vacation cottage with a wealthy couple lounging around it, what do you expect they will do?
It is predictable the pirates will be unable to control their greed impulses. Our so-called sophisticated societies have proven unable to accomplish such a task. The problem with the pirates is that at some point they are going to make some powerful nations very angry to the point of retribution. Kidnapping and gang raping our women is one way to get there. Then you are certain to see another of the popular predictable human reactions… wrath coupled with vengeance.