Posted by: hobbesonafob | April 30, 2009

A meaningless observation followed by a meaningful observation

While en route to Montreal a couple days ago, I noticed a Maersk shipping container and the company’s logo. The meaningless observation is the following: if you drink copious amounts of beer and squint your eyes, the Maersk logo is not unlike Somalia’s flag: 

Maersk Logosomalia-flag2


Note: the Somali flag is antithetical to overseas shipping despite its calming sea-blue motif.

More interestingly – at least from my perspective – is the advent of vigilantes who have begun to capture their own pirates in Somalia:

“Regional leaders at Alula and Bargaal in Somalia’s northern Puntland region told the BBC they have put together a militia of fishermen to catch pirates.” From: (

This organic force – unless it was funded by a rival pirate group (based on the assumption that pirates compete with one another) – is an interesting development. So now there is another group in Somali able to wield coercive power. And it seems that some have been calling for the creation of a Somali coast guard.

If the chatter behind creating an American or UN-funded coast guard (of course, this coast guard would be manned by Somalis) materializes, the end result will be interesting unpredictable. The creation of such a force would lead to yet another coercive and contentious non-state actor (CCNA) in Somalia. Empowering a group with the means to engage in Tillian terms of stateness (warmaking, statemaking, protection, and resource extraction) can lead to the same complications that are occurring in Afghanistan. Christian Bleuer highlights some of the problems of empowering a group in a foreign country especially when one has little knowledge of local conditions:

The basis of Bleuer’s observations are from Capt. Carl Thompson, who provides a most disheartening take on what is going on in the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, and the operation in Afghanistan. 

It would be interesting to conduct research to find out under what conditions should local forces be empowered to fight against a mutual enemy. 



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