The one upside of piracy is that it creates incentives for cooperation among navies of countries who often have tense relations with each other. The U.S. and the Russians cooperate off the Gulf of Aden, and we might begin to work with the Chinese and other navies off the coast of Indonesia, too. As a transnational threat tied to anarchy, piracy brings nations together, helping to form the new coalitions of the 21st century.
Kaplan is right on the mark (and it’s a point I alluded to earlier), but I worry that he is being a little too sanguine about American and Russian cooperation. A Russian ship is en route to join the five American destroyers circling the pirates right now, and, according to Jeffrey Gettleman’s latest dispatch, Russian and American anti-piracy tactics don’t always, shall we say, see prow to prow. Recent tensions between the two countries don’t make the situation any easier, and Somali officials seem to be eager to exploit these tensions.
If the possibility of a nuclear stand-off weren’t enough to cool Russian and American heels, then, perhaps this gang of sea bandits will do the trick.
(Image from flickr user AkumAPRIME using a creative commons license)