BATTONO LA U.S.NAVY I PIRATI SOMALI

Nei primi tre mesi del 2011 gli attacchi di pirateria in mare sono stati almeno 142, di cui 97 al largo delle coste somale. Nello stesso periodo dell’anno scorso erano stati 35. Sono cifre dell’International Maritime Bureau, che ha sede a Kuala Lumpur e monitora la pirateria a livello mondiale. In mano ai pirati ci sarebbero (fine marzo) 28 navi e 596 persone.

Priva di governo da quasi quattro lustri, la Somalia non è in grado di controllare le sue acque territoriali, quindi è il fronte più critico della lotta al banditismo marittimo. Inefficace è stata finora l’azione della forza internazionale guidata dagli Stati Uniti, la Combined Task Force 150. La più grande potenza aeronavale e militare della storia non riesce a debellare un’agile schiera di predoni, munita di armi e imbarcazioni leggere.

In passato la lotta alla pirateria è stata addotta per legittimare forme differenziate di conquista territoriale. Oggi, è stato notato, l’equivalente dell’impegno contro i pirati è la tutela dei diritti umani e la promozione della democrazia, spesso insistite al di là del ragionevole. E il contrasto all’immigrazione clandestina via mare non dà risultati.

Intorno al 1830 la Gran Bretagna motivò con la protezione della legalità sui mari l’impossessamento di una serie di basi lungo la costa della penisola araba, battezzata Costa dei Pirati o anche Costa della Tregua (Trucial Coast): più o meno, il territorio degli odierni Emirati Arabi Uniti. Tra i pirati in azione in quelle acque non mancavano gli inglesi, spesso legati alla East India Company. Nel 1695 un grosso vascello da 80 cannoni, ammiraglia della flotta mercantile del Surat, di ritorno da Mokha e carica di pellegrini d’alto bordo e di merci costose, fu catturato da due navi corsare inglesi. I ricchi passeggeri furono depredati, le donne stuprate. Il Surat reagì occupando la ‘fattoria’ dell’East India Company e incarcerando i suoi uomini.

Nel Mediterraneo la pirateria fu esercitata, oltre che dai musulmani, anche dai Cavalieri di Malta e da rinnegati che diventavano musulmani per fare fortuna. Nel XVII secolo gli Stati o Reggenze barbaresche del Nord Africa si reggevano sulla pirateria, cui era strettamente connessa la tratta degli schiavi (oggi, dei migranti). La cattura di ostaggi e il business dei riscatti erano il versante più redditizio della pirateria, perdurato fino al XIX secolo. “Stare usanza del mare” si giustificò nel 1804 un capobarca tunisino con un prete italiano che aveva catturato nel golfo di Napoli.

Tutti i governi pagavano veri e propri tributi ai bey di Algeri, Tunisi, Tripoli e ad altri capi minori perché le proprie navi transitassero senza danno, o con meno danni, le acque più infestate del Mare Nostrum. Considerati i costi della repressione militare della pirateria, pagava tributi anche la Gran Bretagna. Attraverso Londra, pagavano anche gli armatori delle sue colonie nordamericane. Quando queste ultime si furono dichiarate indipendenti la protezione britannica cessò e il presidente Jefferson non esitò a mandare una minuscola squadra della U.S.Navy contro il bey di Tripoli. Il futuro presidente Adams propose una piccola flotta che bloccasse in permanenza il porto di Algeri “anche per darci una Marina vera e animosa di fronte alla bandiera di Maometto, laddove gli altri sono codardi”.

Non risulta che la flotta onnipossente di Obama e dei suoi alleati stia conseguendo più successo della flottarella di Jefferson e Adams.

JJJ

MILITARISM MAKES AMERICA THE NUT OF THE WORLD

TIME’s powerful indictment

It’s my moral duty to call your attention on a press event which is far more important, say, than  the historical one which uncovered the Watergate scandal. Watergate was small fry and venial sin if compared with the horrific reality of the U.S. war spending. On April 25 past TIME carried “How to save $1 trillion”, a thundering prosecuting speech by Mark Thompson against the senselessness of the American defense overspending.

The facts, figures and ideas of TIME will convince many readers that America has gone awry. That it has become the nut or crank of the world. That it has to do something really bold, lest the obsession for weapons and (illusory) planetary egemony forces its taxpayers to pay vigintillions for arms and professional warriors -from the Table of Numbers I learned that one vigintillion is a figure made by 1 followed by 63 zeros. At $700 billions per year the U.S. is already spending as much on his military as the rest of the world combined. It’s on the road to vigintillions.

The simplest and most honest way of informing you on the TIME reckoning is simply to transcribe some of its findings and concepts.

The U.S. Navy operates an 11-aircraft carrier fleet- each vessel costing $15 billions and being likely to be sunk by missiles in a real conflict with China. The Chinese capability will be such that the American carriers will have to stay so far away from China that the short-range aircraft they bear will be useless. A number of months ago a “Daily Babel” article pointed out that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was struggling with admirals who defended the carriers, arguing (Gates) that the carriers are too big targets and will be prone to be destroyed by missiles. TIME reported that Gates “warned last year on the growing antiship capabilities of our adversaries before asking the unaskable question <Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years?>. Needless to say, each carrier requires the protection of several destroyers and submarines. “It’s just tradition, the industrial base and some other old and musty arguments that keep the shipyards building them” TIME comments.

Other unaskable questions. “Can the U.S. really afford more that 500 bases at home and around the world? Do the Air Force, Navy and Marines really need $400 billions in new jet fighters when their present fleets give them vast air superiority for years to come? Does the Navy really need 50 attack submarines when America’s main enemy hides in caves?”

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has admonished that “the single biggest threat to our national security is our debt”. TIME calls it “an almost tragic irony the fact that we are borrowing cash from China to pay for weapons (…) If the Chinese want to slay us, they don’t even need to attack us with their missiles. They just have to call in their loans”. “We’ve waged war non stop for nearly a decade in Afghanistan, at a cost of nearly half a trillion dollars, against a foe with no army, no navy, no air force. We send $1 billion destroyers to handle five Somali pirates in a fiberglass skiff (…) As long as the U.S. is overspending on its defense, it lets its allies skimp on theirs and instead pour the savings into infrastructure, education and health care. Our tax dollars are paying for a military that is subsidizing the health care of our European allies”.

The personnel costs (pay, benefits et cet:) are exorbitant. ”Recently 60 members of the crew of the carrier Abraham Lincoln pocketed $57,000 each, tax free, simply to re-enlist. Pentagon medical costs have soared from $19 billions in 2001 to more than $50 billions. Secretary Gates has proposed cutting 102 on 952 generals and admirals. A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that citizens (55%) were willing to cut defense. Yet Congress continues to resist even minor reductions. One carrier generates 6,000 jobs and $400 millions in annual local spending. With numbers like that, who needs pork?

Aircraft carriers become harder to kill as more states of the Union invest in their future. “It’s a disease that infects the entire defense budget” says Gordon Adams, who oversaw Pentagon spending during the Clinton Administration. 

My comment: the laws of electoralism and pork make it impossible that elected politicians will ever trim wrong expenses producing jobs, business, votes and careers.

The American folly according to TIME is the insane mentality that Howard McKeon (R), the Representative who chairs the Armed Services Committee, enunciated like this: “A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline”. “Attitudes like that can bankrupt a nation and the public senses it” (TIME).

The weapons obsession began as a love affair of the Americans with the cavalry regiments which subjugated Indians in the West and easily defeated Mexicans. Today it has condemned the U.S.“to be at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight” (the remark was made by Univ.of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer).

“The Nemesis of American happiness” was the heading of an old column of mine in The Daily Babel. Planetary (tentative) hegemony itself is such frightful Goddess of retribution. 

It’s my moral duty to call your attention on a press event which is far more important, say, than  the historical one which uncovered the Watergate scandal. Watergate was small fry and venial sin if compared with the horrific reality of the U.S. war spending. On April 25 past TIME carried “How to save $1 trillion”, a thundering prosecuting speech by Mark Thompson against the senselessness of the American defense overspending.

The facts, figures and ideas of TIME will convince many readers that America has gone awry. That it has become the nut or crank of the world. That it has to do something really bold, lest the obsession for weapons and (illusory) planetary egemony forces its taxpayers to pay vigintillions for arms and professional warriors -from the Table of Numbers I learned that one vigintillion is a figure made by 1 followed by 63 zeros. At $700 billions per year the U.S. is already spending as much on his military as the rest of the world combined. It’s on the road to vigintillions.

The simplest and most honest way of informing you on the TIME reckoning is simply to transcribe some of its findings and concepts.

The U.S. Navy operates an 11-aircraft carrier fleet- each vessel costing $15 billions and being likely to be sunk by missiles in a real conflict with China. The Chinese capability will be such that the American carriers will have to stay so far away from China that the short-range aircraft they bear will be useless. A number of months ago a “Daily Babel” article pointed out that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was struggling with admirals who defended the carriers, arguing (Gates) that the carriers are too big targets and will be prone to be destroyed by missiles. TIME reported that Gates “warned last year on the growing antiship capabilities of our adversaries before asking the unaskable question <Do we really need 11 carrier strike groups for another 30 years?>. Needless to say, each carrier requires the protection of several destroyers and submarines. “It’s just tradition, the industrial base and some other old and musty arguments that keep the shipyards building them” TIME comments.

 

Other unaskable questions. “Can the U.S. really afford more that 500 bases at home and around the world? Do the Air Force, Navy and Marines really need $400 billions in new jet fighters when their present fleets give them vast air superiority for years to come? Does the Navy really need 50 attack submarines when America’s main enemy hides in caves?”

 

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has admonished that “the single biggest threat to our national security is our debt”. TIME calls it “an almost tragic irony the fact that we are borrowing cash from China to pay for weapons (…) If the Chinese want to slay us, they don’t even need to attack us with their missiles. They just have to call in their loans”. “We’ve waged war non stop for nearly a decade in Afghanistan, at a cost of nearly half a trillion dollars, against a foe with no army, no navy, no air force. We send $1 billion destroyers to handle five Somali pirates in a fiberglass skiff (…) As long as the U.S. is overspending on its defense, it lets its allies skimp on theirs and instead pour the savings into infrastructure, education and health care. Our tax dollars are paying for a military that is subsidizing the health care of our European allies”.

The personnel costs (pay, benefits et cet:) are exorbitant. ”Recently 60 members of the crew of the carrier Abraham Lincoln pocketed $57,000 each, tax free, simply to re-enlist. Pentagon medical costs have soared from $19 billions in 2001 to more than $50 billions. Secretary Gates has proposed cutting 102 on 952 generals and admirals. A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that citizens (55%) were willing to cut defense. Yet Congress continues to resist even minor reductions. One carrier generates 6,000 jobs and $400 millions in annual local spending. With numbers like that, who needs pork?

Aircraft carriers become harder to kill as more states of the Union invest in their future. “It’s a disease that infects the entire defense budget” says Gordon Adams, who oversaw Pentagon spending during the Clinton Administration. 

My comment: the laws of electoralism and pork make it impossible that elected politicians will ever trim wrong expenses producing jobs, business, votes and careers.

The American folly according to TIME is the insane mentality that Howard McKeon (R), the Representative who chairs the Armed Services Committee, enunciated like this: “A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline”. “Attitudes like that can bankrupt a nation and the public senses it” (TIME).

The weapons obsession began as a love affair of the Americans with the cavalry regiments which subjugated Indians in the West and easily defeated Mexicans. Today it has condemned the U.S.“to be at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight” (the remark was made by Univ.of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer).

“The Nemesis of American happiness” was the heading of an old column of mine in The Daily Babel. Planetary (tentative) hegemony itself is such frightful Goddess of retribution.

JJJ