Posts Tagged ‘Somalia’

What we can learn from Pompey

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

That is, Pompey the general, not the city.

Victor Davis Hanson writes about The Art of Seaborne Humiliation

Over 1,000 pirates operate off the Somali coast. In 2009 they attempted 214 attacks on private shipping, well over twice the number tried in 2008. They remind ocean-goers that the world’s great navies cannot ensure safe passage through the Gulf of Aden. And they count on Western publics’ contextualizing their criminality — by adducing poverty, past exploitation, or lack of Western humanitarian aid — rather than demanding punishment for it.

Of course, the classical way of ending piracy — as Pompey demonstrated with the Cilician outlaws — is to combine naval interception with assaults against the criminals’ home ports. But again, given the asymmetry involved in piracy — wealthy Western ship- or boat-owners versus desperate “others” — who wants to risk killing poor Third World civilians just to hit the pirates who live among them? The final scenes of Black Hawk Down give us a taste of what the shooting might look like on CNN.

Many other such incidents could be cited — think of the 1968 capture of the Pueblo by North Korea or the 1975 taking of the Mayaguez by the Khmer Rouge. While the details differ, the general playbook remains the same: Some sort of incident is staged at sea, where witnesses and boundaries are often nonexistent, in order to provoke a response that will work to the provoker’s benefit.

In each of these cases, the instigator dares a powerful Western nation to retaliate and thereby stupidly endanger its collective good life over a small matter of 19th-century-style national pride. And if violence follows, the props almost always ensure that the Western nation is transmogrified in the blink of an eye into a bully, pushing around the Other where it has no business being in the first place. No wonder that the Western nation usually instead sends diplomats to work out some sort of restrained apology, which gives the provocateur stature and pours more humiliation upon the provoked — another milestone on a long road of weakening Western stature and influence.

What might change the rules of seaborne humiliation?

Go read the rest, but the answer has to do with growing a spine.


Whipped for a bra

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Islamist savagery, this time in Somalia:
Somali Women Whipped for Wearing Bras

Somalia’s hardline Islamist group al Shabaab is cracking down on residents who do not follow a strict form of Sharia Islamic law, now publicly whipping women who wear bras, the Times of India reported.

Residents tell the paper that gunmen have been gathering women in Mogadishu who are perceived to have firm busts. These women are then publicly whipped by masked men as punishment for what Islamist leaders call deception.

After the public whippings, the women are forced to remove their bras and shake their breasts, the Times reported.

“Al Shabaab forced us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts,” a resident, Halima, told the Times of India. Her daughters were whipped for wearing bras.

“They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands stiffly on women’s chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat,” she said.

The insurgent group recently amputated a foot and a hand from two young men accused of robbery. Al Shabaab has also banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing or watching soccer.

Religion of peace, you say?