Monday, April 27, 2009

Did Hollywood Write the PIrate Script?

If so, this would not be the first time Uncle Sam and Hollywood, the master of illusion, collaborated. Yes, our government is supposed to deal in reality, however we know how that goes...Uncle Sam could probably give Hollywood a few tips on how to create a false impression of reality.

Anyway, the article Hollywood, Somalia, And U.S. Foreign Policy explains why we shouldn't buy the "theatrical spectacle" that was Captain Richard Phillip's rescue.

If anyone wants clear proof how 24 x 7 media orgy can dictate foreign policy there's no better evidence than the recently concluded saga of Captain Richard Phillips.

Had it not been for the media frenzy, three of Capt. Phillips' captors would not have been shot by Navy Seals snipers --if indeed they were shot-- and one of them would not have been brought to New York for a show trial.

But once the masses are all riled up, the thirst has to be quenched. So the Hollywood script evolved.

First a recap: Capt. Phillips' captors met their match on his ship the Maersk Alabama. The ship's crew would not yield and allow it to be captured. So, the attackers aborted their doomed mission and ended up escaping with Captain Phillips, in, of all things, a lifeboat.

Here's where critical media sometimes helps. The story fed to the world by U.S. authorities is that the young Somalis still continued to demand for money as ransom for Phillips.

Why do the authorities think the whole world is so stupid? Why do authorities believe all media are as gullible as CNN and The New York Times?

The Somalis needed Phillips to be alive in order for them to also make it out alive. Somalis aren't stupid; they're one of the shrewdest and most entrepreneurial people in Africa.

Please excuse us for not believing the government's tale. Had Capt. Phillips’ captors harmed him, their lifeboat would have been torpedoed or riddled with high-powered bullets.

This much even a grade school student can deduce.

Moreover, the Somalis had no way of escaping --with or without Captain Phillips. They also had run out of food and water. In fact, they had become Captain Phillips' hostages.

Yet, U.S. media had driven the public into an angry frenzy. Rather than starve the Somalis into submission --and who knows, perhaps they were starved into submission-- there had to be a spectacular ending to the ordeal. An ending befitting a power such as the United States.

Enter the Navy Seals marksmen.

Again, excuse us for not believing the government's script, that one of the hungry, tired and defeated captors of Captain Phillips held an AK47 to his back and "was about to pull the trigger."

Why after five days? Why when he was their only ticket for remaining alive? Why toss a Lotto ticket?

But Hollywood had already written the script; so it had to end with the Navy marksmen taking out the three captors. One of Phillips' captors had already surrendered after he had been allowed to board the Navy ship we are told. He is the teenager, Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, who is now in New York to be tried.

Three shots; three bad guys dead. Hail to the chief! The stuff of Hollywood.

Did it really happen that way? What is the probability that all three Somalis were in clear view to be picked off at the same time after five days? This is just our critical mind acting up again. We’re also told that at one point –twice in fact—Capt. Phillips actually jumped off the lifeboat and swam towards the Navy destroyer.

Check this out: We’re told that the Navy actually allowed his Somalis captors to pursue him and grab him again; because President Barack Obama had not yet authorized the use of deadly force.

Come now, and American citizen is escaping and members of the military would allow him to be recaptured by armed men again? Whoever buys this story should come and claim their free bridge.

We do have video images of Capt. Phillips once he's on board after his rescue. Where is the video image of the Navy Seals shooting the Somalis? Where are the bodies of the three Somalis for that matter?

Are there other possible more realistic scenarios?

Since Capt. Phillips’ captors had been supplied food from the Navy destroyer, is it not possible that they might have been drugged and were actually asleep? Wouldn't any sensible American –even without Presidential authorization—have put something in the captors’ food and water to knock them out?

Is it possible that this in fact is what happened? This is of course a less glorious but to us a more credible ending.

We don't have the resources of CNN or The New York Times. Hint, hint: Feel free to borrow these questions from us and ask the authorities.

Moreover, the Navy would have been better off dropping the captured Somali youth off to Kenya, where the court system there has been handling such cases. But again, Hollywood took over and demanded that he be brought here for a theatrical spectacle of a trial. So from now on, will every captured Somali be brought for trial here? And given the contentious relations between Somalia and the U.S. in the past will this invite retaliation and future trial in Somalia if any American has the misfortune of being captured by Somalis? Will al-Qeda exploit this development to incite more Somalis against the US?

It's all well and good that Capt. Phillips and the rest of his crew have returned safely. But delicate foreign policy should never be ceded to Hollywood and media frenzy.
Moreover, swashbuckling pirate tales are just that, tales, created by the 18th-century British state in order to galvanize its people behind them in order to protect their financial foundation. The Treaty of Utrecht granted the British slave-trading rights with Spanish America. However, by the 1720s, the slave trade was in the process of being destroyed by piracy, according to the book,
by Marcus Rediker, a history of piracy, focusing on the "golden age of piracy" (1650 to 1730) that emphasizes how common seamen who turned pirate built for themselves a multicultural, democratic and egalitarian society.

A pirate captured and brought to Alexander the Great in the 4th B.C:
Alexander the Great: "What do you mean by keeping possession of the sea?"

Pirate: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor."


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