According to the American left: Base foreign policy on a video game.
I don’t know how many of you have played the game “Sid Meier’s ‘Pirates!'”-either the old computer game or the newer XBox version-but for a while I was a devotée of the XBox game and I think it illustrates some key points about pirate policy that endure for the modern day. The main one is that anti-pirate military patrols are pretty much a lost cause. The ocean is just too big. A pirate only gets taken down this way because of hubris-you might deliberately try to attack and seize a military ship and wind up biting off more than you can chew. But the risks of actually getting caught are tiny relative to the rewards of successful piracy.
The only countermeasure that really works well is to escort a dedicated merchant vessel with small anti-pirate military craft. This, however, is rarely done for the exact same reason that we’re hesitant to do it today-it’s expensive. Arming the merchant vessels themselves is a geopolitically and legally dicey move in today’s environment. But “Pirates!” illustrates that this is inherently problematic as there are serious tradeoffs between cargo capacity, speed, turning performance, and cargo capacity that give dedicated pirate ships an intrinsic advantage against any kind of economically reasonable hybrid vessel.
So how can the pirates be stopped? Well, fundamentally the viability of your enterprise is “Pirates!” rests on the geopolitical chaos on land.
So, Matt, based on your extensive video game experience, are you willing to send American troops into Somalia to fix the geopolitical chaos? Oh, wait. That’s been tried.
Mind you, it has been done successfully before, but not based on a video game.
We’re now supposed to base American policy on a video game programmed by whom, exactly? How experienced were the programmers? How knowledgeable of history and real world events were they?
How much were they trying for drama and interest over historical accuracy?
Wow. Just what I want my country’s foreign policy based on. A video game.
Side note: Incidentally, there is United States law regarding piracy:
The commander and crew of any merchant vessel of the United States, owned wholly, or in part, by a citizen thereof, may oppose and defend against any aggression, search, restraint, depredation, or seizure, which shall be attempted upon such vessel, or upon any other vessel so owned, by the commander or crew of any armed vessel whatsoever, not being a public armed vessel of some nation in amity with the United States, and may subdue and capture the same; and may also retake any vessel so owned which may have been captured by the commander or crew of any such armed vessel, and send the same into any port of the United States.