Thursday, January 8, 2009

Piracy Update!

. Thursday, January 8, 2009

The US Navy announced today that it has put together a maritime force to battle pirates off of the coast of Somalia. 

The unit -- called Combined Task Force 151 -- is a spinoff of an existing force in the region that addressed a range of security issues, such as drug smuggling and weapons trafficking, as well as piracy.

The Gulf of Aden links the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. About 20,000 oil tankers, freighters and merchant vessels pass along the crucial shipping route each year near largely lawless Somalia.

The United States is among at least 20 countries that are trying to combat piracy in the region, including Russia, India, Germany and Iran. In December, German sailors foiled an attempt by pirates to hijack an Egyptian cargo ship off the coast of Yemen, according to the German Defense Ministry, and the European Union launched its first naval operation to protect vessels. That came just days after China revealed its own plans to patrol the Horn of Africa's volatile coastline.

Task Force 151 is an outgrowth of Combined Task Force-150, which was created to conduct security operations at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom -- the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. The task forces are part of the Combined Maritime Forces, which includes naval ships and other assets from more than 20 nations.
If you're interested in pirates, a new book by Peter Leeson, a George Mason economics professor, will hit bookshelves near you very soon. The book, titled "The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates" looks extremely interesting. An article by Leeson is forthcoming in the New York University Journal of Law and Liberty. Here is the abstract:
Can criminal profit-seeking generate socially desirable outcomes? This paper investigates this question by examining the economics of pirate tolerance. At a time when British merchant ships treated black slaves as slaves, some pirate ships integrated black bondsmen into their crews as full-fledged, free members. Enlightened notions about equality did not produce pirate tolerance, however. I argue that pirate self-interest seeking in the context of the criminally-determined costs and benefits of pirate slavery was responsible for pirates’ progressive racial practices. Analogous to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, whereby legitimate persons’ self-interest seeking can generate socially desirable outcomes, among pirates there was an “invisible hook,” whereby criminal self- interest seeking produced a socially desirable outcome in the form of racial tolerance.


Piracy Update!
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