The wisdom of Gordon Tullock, part II

The U.S. Navy said pirates commandeered a Saudi-owned supertanker
bearing more than $100 million worth of crude a few hundred miles off
the Kenyan coast, an attack that sharply increases the stakes in an
effort by governments and militaries to protect the world’s
energy-supply lines.

U.S. Navy officials said the hijacking was unprecedented for its
distance from shore and the size of its target — a ship about the
length of a U.S. aircraft carrier. The attack appears also to be the
first significant disruption of crude shipments in the region by

Here is the story.  Here is Peter Leeson’s paper on pirates.  I don’t yet see it on Amazon, but stay tuned for Peter’s forthcoming book The Invisible Hook

I thank Brad Williams for the pointer.

Addendum: From another article:

The pirates’ profits are set to reach a record $50 million in 2008,
Somali officials say. Shipping firms are usually prepared to pay,
because the sums are still low compared with the value of the ships.


So, what Arrrr you sayin'?

"The crew of the hijacked merchant vessel the Faina stood on the deck after a U.S. Navy request to check on their health and welfare, at sea off the coast of Somalia on Nov. 9. The Faina, which is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related military equipment, was seized by pirates Sept. 25 and forced to anchor off the Somali coast."

Gives new meaning to the word "tanker," or I guess it recapitulates the etymology of "tank."

Didn't Julius Caesar have an effective method for dealing with pirates? Pay the ransom and then capture and execute them?

I'm fairly ignorant of international maritime law, but it would seem to me that it would be advantageous for these shipping companies to hire private security to protect their cargo. $100 million worth of oil would be worth spending some money to protect. I also imagine it wouldn't take much to defend against some rebels in a fishing boat wielding AK-47s and RPGs. Seems like a proficient sniper could cause significant damage to the vessel before they were even close enough to cause damage....but then again, I do not know laws regarding the defense of shipping vessels by non-military agents.

50 million in profits? Hmmm I wonder if they're going to have an IPO? It seems they are one of the few bright spots in this dismal economy.

Yea me hearties, these scurvy dogs remind me of the Korean fairy tale about the 2 monkeys who caught a tiger in a quilt. Now what do they do with it? Meanwhile, the tiger gets angrier and angrier. . .and the fabric isn't very strong. . .

But seriously isn't this another lesson in why failed nation states just can't be allowed to limp along in anarchy? Somalia seems unimportant and far away, but it's getting to be a PITA.

More serious diplomatic re-engagement seems necessary, unless we just ask the Brits, who are good at this kind of thing, to deal with it for us on the water.

Explorations in The Theory of Anarchy by Gordon Tullock
The Roots of Conflict 3
The Cooperative State 13
The Exploitative State 22
but is more the wisdom of Mancur Olson:Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships . He explains why people long for the old totalitarism when they see the results of anarchy

We've had a free-market solution for darn near 225 year. Time to dust of the Congressional power to grant letters of marque and reprisal.

The last time National Geographic covered contemporary piracy, they concluded that most successful operations involve at least one inside man.

Private security might just be a better armed inside man.


The U.S. Navy doesn't have the resources to be everywhere at all times. I most certainly would not have a problem with the U.S. Navy attacking pirates, but the ocean is big and ships are slow - Or do you expect the U.S. Navy to have a ship escorting each and every supertanker?


There are different types of private security... Corporations already employ very trustworthy private security contractors all over the world. What is the difference between hiring mercenaries to protect your corporate VIP in South America, or some coltan mine in Africa, and hiring them to protect an oil tanker?

"Unlike dry cargo ships the pirates will find it impossible to hide this carrier and it will be interesting to see how they plan to profit from the hijacking."

How about you pay me $10 million and I won't sink it?


HT kedrosky

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