Chart of the day, pirate edition

By Felix Salmon
April 14, 2009
(This is doing the rounds, not sure where it started, but possibly here .) " data-share-img="" data-share="twitter,facebook,linkedin,reddit,google" data-share-count="true">


(This is doing the rounds, not sure where it started, but possibly here.)

More From Felix Salmon
Post Felix
The Piketty pessimist
The most expensive lottery ticket in the world
The problems of HFT, Joe Stiglitz edition
Private equity math, Nuveen edition
Five explanations for Greece’s bond yield
9 comments so far

Hmmmm, rather telling that it only goes back as far as McKinley. Because Jefferson (First Barbary War) and Monroe (Second Barbary War) killed thousands of them. Obama really will have to send the gunboats in, or possibly, as blogger Jules Crittenden suggests, start dropping pirate corpses on Somali villages, to match that kind of record.

Since the pirates are nothing but glorified terrorists, W. Bush is way ahead by my count.

Well, number of days president (lower case intended) did not say a word about an American captain captured by the muslim pirates / terrorists: 4. Number of times president bowed to the Saudi king: 1. Number of times muslim pirates / terrorists killed Americans – THOUSANDS. So, when will we see Obama praying to the East twice a day? May be he already does…

Catch them and hang them! We dont need

Posted by New Yorker | Report as abusive

If Clinton had not worried about the UN and international opinion (like Obama…) there would have been Tanks in Somalia and no movie Black Hawk Down, it would have been a Clint Eastwood Grenada story, and there would be no pirates attack merchant ships, and probably more moral, no pirates hording international food aid and starving their population.

Posted by Coastal Pirate (Hockey Team) | Report as abusive

Actually, Blasher, the pirates are not terrorists. Terrorists have a political agenda; these guys are just trying to make a living! The worst thing that could happen is overthrowing all those rich shipping companies and their governtments that keep paying ransomss.

And, on a relative basis, Blasher, no Americans have died at the hands of pirates (or terrorists) in the Obama era. 3,000 Americans died at the hands of terrorists in a single US event (plus hundreds more overseas) in the Bush era. Not such a good job of national security there.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

Felix, my guess is that you have no data for many of the intervening presidents? Barbary pirates already mentioned, but piracy has never gone entirely away, so I doubt the accuracy of all those zeroes…? Hey guys, Politico is looking for extremist zingers, go comment on Bush/Obama there!

Posted by AmericanFool | Report as abusive


How to fight and win vs. Somali pirates

SEBANG ISLAND, INDONESIA —– An old retired former pirate here has suggested some ways to lick the worsening problem of pirates off the coast of Somalia who are wreaking havoc against cargo and container ships plying the sea lanes of East Africa:
Mamood Faladi. 68, now back to fishing in the Malacca Strait where piracy took a toll on hundreds of ocean vessels in the early 70’s, said poverty and hopelessness have driven many young men in their villages to piracy during his heydays.
“It’s easy to understand how these Somalis feel about the ships with millions of dollars worth of goods passing by their country while their countrymen starve”, says Faladi.
However, Faladi said he no longer approves nor symphatize with what these pirates are doing to ships passing near their coast and suggested a number of ways to fight and lick this problem in Somali :

1.Since piracy in the high seas has become a global problem, countries directly affected by this problem should come together ( US, Italy, Germany, France, China, Japan, etc) and put up a task force to be called “Operation Somali Storm”.
2.The most critical ocean area where all these piracies take place must be divided into separate areas of responsibility for each country. These countries should contribute their own naval forces to this effort and each country’s navy should be responsible of taking care of their “area of responsibility”
3.Every ship crew of all the ocean vessels that ply this dangerous route regularly must be trained by the navy’s special forces of each country how best to fight off any kind of attack by Somali pirates. Since ships’ crews are always in danger of being kidnapped and killed, they must be free to KILL pirates in any way without violating any law.
4.Each country must set up “special operations” to pinpoint the locations of every pirate group in Somalia and neutralize these groups. Remember the movie “Black Hawk Down” which shows the complete stupidity of US Delta Forces and Scout Rangers—and never to repeat that mistake again, according to Faladi. “ That incident has given the world a deep impression that Somali militias, rebels, terrorists and pirates are the world’s most ferocious and dangerous— even US marines cannot lick them,” he said
5.One global satellite should be assigned to detect and pinpoint pirates in the high seas of Somalia and the rest of east Africa on daily basis, day and night, and information shared with the countries involved in “Operation Somalia” so that they can act on any pirate’s threats against any commercial vessel.
6.Another suggestion is to for each country to hire mercenary “special forces” and use guerilla tactics to penetrate deep into Somalia territory and take out each pirate group one by one, according to Faladi.

The former pirate who operated in the seas off Malaysia and Thailand in the early seventies regretted his actions saying that pirates can paralyzed global trade in any part of the world where ocean vessels carrying commodities in export-import trade are hampered, delayed and even lost if countries are too timid to lift a hand to fight back pirates.


It’s not as simple as good guys vs evil pirates. Since the collapse of the Somalian state nearly 20 years ago, foreign ships have been overfishing in Somalian waters, and dumping toxic waste in their seas. These ‘pirates’ are, in many cases, trying to protect their country’s waters from these criminal acts, and 70% of Somalians support them in those efforts. I’m sure there are Somalians profiteering as well, but it’s not Jedis vs the Empire, it’s a lot more complex.

It’s amazing how many crazy opinions a pretty simple funny chart can bring out.

New Yorker is probably #1 – what is Obama going to say about pirates other than sending SF to shoot them? Do we need a speech about why pirates are bad? “Obama might be a Muslim” will go in future textbooks on racism right next to the blood libel.

Coastal Pirate thinks that what the world needs is MORE of the USA kicking the **** out of some tiny country that no one cares about rather than less. I suppose you think that if we had only bombed Vietnam harder we could have won that one too? What makes you think that raw US military force can pacify a place as awful and chaotic as Somalia? Please enlighten us as to how tanks prevent corruption, sea piracy, and starvation.

And then there’s sven, making me embarassed to be a liberal, which is hard to do (I love liberalism even if I don’t like most Democrats). I’m all for seeing both sides of an issue, but if any group in the world lacks redeeming qualities, it is pirates. You can make a case that Palestinians have no other way but terrorism to resist Israeli militarism/imperialism (I’m not saying I agree, but you can make a case). Pirates are not the same: these are people who hijack food aid shipments for profit and murder hostages without any coherent political message or goal other than personal gain. They don’t have a legitimate argument. There are avenues to address grievances like oceanic territorial disputes and pollution. Pirates don’t care because they are at war with civilized society. If a soldier has to shoot them in the head to free a hostage, he is engaging in one of the most defensible forms of warfare. A certain amount of moral relativism is fine, but if your moral relativism recognizes the legitimacy of amoral piracy as a political strategy you’re over-applying your freshman ethics course.

Posted by cgaros | Report as abusive
Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see