We’ve been hearing a lot about terrorists and pirates for many years now; but reports about why they do what they do are just starting to filter through.
A pirate who goes by the name Abshir Abdullahi Abdi explained his reasons on NPR’s Morning Edition, on May 6, 2006. "We understand what we're doing is wrong. But hunger is more important than any other thing," he said.
NPR’s Gwen Thompkins followed up with this: “Fishing villages in the area have been devastated by illegal trawlers and waste dumping from industrialized nations. Coral reefs are reportedly dead. Lobster and tuna have vanished. Malnutrition is high.”
Amy Goodman introduced Mohamed Abshir Waldo on the April 14, 2009 edition of DemocracyNow! The autor of “The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other?” he said:
Well, the two piracies are the original one, which was foreign fishing piracy by foreign trawlers and vessels, who at the same time were dumping industrial waste, toxic waste and, it also has been reported, nuclear waste (author’s note: from US navel vessels patrolling the oil lanes off the Somali coast). . .
And the other piracy is the shipping piracy. When the marine resource of Somalia was pillaged, when the waters were poisoned, when the fish was stolen, and in a poverty situation in the whole country, the fishermen felt that they had no other possibilities or other recourse but to fight with, you know, the properties and the shipping of the same countries that have been doing and carrying on the fishing piracy and toxic dumping. (4)
Hearing these reports about the Somali situation took me back to a morning in Nicaragua about a year ago. “Terrorism is not really an ‘ism’,” Miguel d’Escoto, the former Sandanista priest and current president of the UN General Assembly told me. “There’s no connection between the guerrillas who fought the Contras and Al Qaeda, or Colombia’s FARC and Somali pirates. That’s just a convenient way for your government to convince the world that there is another enemy ‘ism’ out there, like communism used to be.”
He and I talked about fanatics. We agreed that there would always be a lunatic fringe in the world – just as there would always be clinically insane people. “Perhaps Bin Laden is one of them,” I said. “But fanatics don’t get people to follow them unless those people are miserable, desperate.” Then I added, “I’ve often wondered about Robin Hood. He may have been a fanatic for all we know. But the Saxons had been invaded by the Normans and were abused horribly. They couldn’t even hunt deer in their own forests to feed their starving children. They would have flocked to anyone who defied the Normans and offered them hope.”
Father Miguel smiled. “And when the Normans sent the Sheriff of Nottingham to ferret Robin Hood out and destroy his band, all it did was rally the opposition. Hatred escalated.”
It seems that, in the long-run, no one benefits from attacking people who have been treated in ways they consider unjust. Violence, in such cases, begets violence. With one exception.
Those Eisenhower identified as the military-industrial complex, today’s corporatocracy, reap huge benefits. Those who build ships, missiles, and armored vehicles; make guns, uniforms and bulletproof vests; distribute food, soft drinks, and ammunition; provide insurance, medicines, and toilet paper; construct ports, airstrips, and housing; and reconstruct devastated villages, factories, schools, and hospitals – they, and only they, are the big winners.
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(1) NPR’s Morning Edition. “In Somalia, Piracy Is An Attractive Career Option” by Gwen Thompkins, May 6, 2009. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103815312