Pirates have incentives too

Somalia’s pirates represent one of the world’s biggest hostage crises, with 260 crewmen currently held. Hilary Clinton has now outlined a four-point plan, including increased patrols and asset freezing.

The gap not yet plugged: shipping companies are still paying millions per hostage and ship.

Here’s an idea: incentives matter. So long as gunmen are getting millions per seizure, all the patrols in the world are not going to end the piracy.

What’s more, every million paid further empowers and entrenches the criminal network. This is why we have a major problem on our hands today: because the petty piracy (and million dollar payments) were ignored five years ago.

What prohibition was to organized crime in the US, piracy and payments are to Somali criminals. Sixty years and endless police action later, America has curbed the power of the mafia. How long will East Africa be stuck with these motley seamen?

Can European and US governments ban ransom payments? I haven’t seen a single discussion of the matter. Airstrikes, on the other hand, have excited the Team America crowd.

So far, Feingold makes the most sense to me. But who’s talking to the ransomees?