It's a couple weeks late, but the NYT has just posted an an interview with some Somali pirates that's interesting both because it involves pirates, but also because it highlights the absurdity of the modern "international law" perspective on national sovereignty.

In a 45-minute interview, Mr. Sugule spoke on everything from what the pirates wanted (“just money”) to why they were doing this (“to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters”) to what they had to eat on board (rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human-being food”).

He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.” ...

He said the pirates were asking for $20 million in cash; “we don’t use any other system than cash.” But he added that they were willing to bargain. “That’s deal-making,” he explained.

Ridiculous, as even the impotent Somali government acknowledges.

“It’s true that the pirates started to defend the fishing business,” [Mohamed Osman Aden, a Somali diplomat in Kenya] said. “And illegal fishing is a real problem for us. But this does not justify these boys to now act like guardians. They are criminals. The world must help us crack down on them.”

Countries that can't wield a monopoly on the use of force within their own borders and along their own coastlines aren't really countries at all. The lines on the map may say "here's Somalia", but if the government can't exercise sovereignty in more than name only, does the country even really exist?

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