The Unintended Benefit of Piracy

By Matthew Harwood

As U.S. Navy warships continue to surround the Ukrainian cargo ship holding Soviet-era weaponry in the Gulf of Aden hijacked by Somali pirates—who decrease their ransom daily—journalist and international relations scholar Robert D. Kaplan provides an unintended benefit of piracy: multilateral cooperation among the world's navies.

The one upside of piracy is that it creates incentives for cooperation among navies of countries who often have tense relations with each other. The U.S. and the Russians cooperate off the Gulf of Aden, and we might begin to work with the Chinese and other navies off the coast of Indonesia, too. As a transnational threat tied to anarchy, piracy brings nations together, helping to form the new coalitions of the 21st century.

Another noteworthy reason to read Kaplan's piece is his deromanticizing description of how modern-day pirates off Somalia live. Pirates of the Caribbean it's not.


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