08 December 2009

Contra Yglesias

I'm normally a huge fan of Matthew Yglesias, but his recent post on piracy is pretty off the mark. He writes that we should just basically pay off the pirates to not attack ships, in a way that "doesn't feel like ransom."

While it might be nice (and cheaper!) to just pay them off and think they'd go back to fishing, or to have a private military contractor hire a local "maritime defense force," but we'd end up with the problem of enforceability. With a state that is acting badly, we can always threaten them in other ways if they do not comply with the agreement. But in this case, considering all of the confusion off the coast of Somalia, I think we'd be left with a large group of people accepting bribes and continuing what they are doing anyway. What would be the downside? It is damn near impossible in the chaos in Somalia to track who is and isn't pirating, and so it would be cake for these people to accept money and then go back to it.

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