When I read this revulsion towards US interdiction of pirates by, shocking enough, Salon, I was reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where the People’s Front of Judea got together and tried to hammer out a message of dissent against the Romans; one that got more ridiculous as the debate went on:
“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
The People’s Front of Judea (and its dopplegangers, the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, the Popular Front of Judea, the Campaign for a Free Galilee…) was a dig on the Balkanized (practically atomized) infighting of left wing parties in the ’70s in the UK. Certainly anybody who’s watched the US Democratic Party repeatedly implode and fail to stay on message for the past 30 years can attest to the validity of such an observation, and the comments board for this Salon article certainly illustrates the point.
Now, I’m probably guilty of similar as I’m about to lambast both the article’s writers and its readers, but damn, people: Mao, Mussolini and Monroe probably wouldn’t agree on much, but one of the universal constants for any empire – nay, the very heart of authoritarian justification – is law and order. We hate the Romans for their slave trade and religious hegemony but love that they can patrol the roads. We hate the Mongols for their wartime brutality but love the trade that happens within their borders.
Both the US and China right now shoot pirates on sight, no matter how different their official views on Human Rights may be. Hell, even Jon Stewart, with the help of John Oliver, played the difference between interdiction of terrorism and interception of pirates. There is a universal constant – through time and space – that justifies governance, and that constant is in the suppression of banditry and piracy. Practically everything else can be (and often is) bullshitted with bread and circuses, slogans and propaganda, but damnit our roads and sea lanes must be clear or the government is bunk.
Now, for the “this article makes me ashamed to be a liberal” readers, suck it up and put your foot down. Bitchslap the writer and affirm your rational, thoughtful position by having done so. There are things so unequivocal that to not do them really does lay into question the point of the country. Our loftier goals of a more perfect union are predicated on the simple ability to be a prosperous and powerful country despite assiduously keeping to those goals, and this is one of those areas that proves our power.