Navy SEALs take over hijacked tanker in Mediterranean

The Barbary pirates are back.

 

The new face of smuggling? (Photo: Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori)
The new face of smuggling? (Photo: Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori)

Earlier in March, a shadowy oil tanker, suddenly bearing the name Morning Glory, showed up in Es-Sider, Libya with a plan to load oil from terminals held by Libyan rebels.

Back in January, forces of the Libyan government fired on a tanker as it attempted to enter the rebel-held port, reportedly to load another cargo of oil.  The tanker, Baku, Continue reading “Navy SEALs take over hijacked tanker in Mediterranean”

Back to the future: The post-Pax foreign policy debate

Interesting times.

Back map 1914It is no accident that the arc of the 20th century has in some ways circled back to where it started, one hundred years on from the prelude to the “Great War” of 1914-18.  Whether humans imagine themselves to be acting on ideology or “realism,” we continue to do pretty much the same things.  Between politics, geography, and time, we humans are very predictable.

But Americans need not despair.  Our Founders built America Continue reading “Back to the future: The post-Pax foreign policy debate”

Chinese power move in South China Sea: This is big

Breaching the peace.

Mariners and the specialty mariner press know it’s big.  But mariners can’t fix this.  It will take national policies to fix it, and non-specialist citizens therefore need to understand its importance.

So, I reiterate: this is big.  After several years of preparations for this day (see, for example, here, here, and here), China has issued a unilateral order that foreign fishing vessels will have to obtain permits from China to fish in two-thirds of the South China Sea (SCS), an area in which China has long made excessive territorial claims. Continue reading “Chinese power move in South China Sea: This is big”

Great news: Maritime lawlessness back in the Med

Everything old is new again.

The Libyan navy reportedly fired on Sunday at a tanker that tried to enter a militia-held port in Eastern Libya to load crude oil illegally.  The tanker refused orders to change course, and fled Libyan waters, apparently toward Malta.

The interesting aspect of the event is that the tanker in question doesn’t seem to be a rusting bolt-bucket of uncertain parentage, but rather a ship owned by a respected Turkish shipping company, which has a large, modern fleet and does business all over the world.

There is no reason to suspect that the Turkish company is involved in the skullduggery off the Libyan coast.  The question is who is involved: Continue reading “Great news: Maritime lawlessness back in the Med”

Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges

Memorial services for the Pax Americana will be held shortly.

“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” — Ronald Reagan

It made the most news when China did it a few days ago.  But it’s been building for a while, and it’s not just off China.  As the holidays settle in on us, probes of other nations’ sea and air space are in the air.  Is war coming tomorrow?  No.  But whether it comes after tomorrow will depend on more than gestures from that shapeless blob of geopolitical potential that we may now, in a post-superpower world, call the “status quo powers.”  It will depend on the outcomes the status quo powers can secure.

The China Challenge Continue reading “Bad tidings of sea and air space challenges”