Somali piracy as systempunkt

Global Guerrillas on systempunkt

In global guerrilla warfare (a combination of open source innovation, bazaar transactions, and low tech weapons), the point of greatest emphasis is called a systempunkt. It is the point point in a system (either an infrastructure or a market), always identified by autonomous groups within the bazaar, where a swarm of small insults will cause a cascade of collapse in the targeted system.  Within infrastructure, this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in immediate financial loss or ongoing supply shortages. Within a market, an attack on the systempunkt destabilizes the psychology of the market to induce severe inefficiencies and uncertainties.  The ultimate objective of this activity, in aggregate, is the collapse of the target state and globalization

The pirates are causing serious disruption in shipping in that crucial area with vessels already being diverted around the cape of Africa to avoid them. Maybe these pirates aren’t just a bunch of random crazed criminals. Or maybe they are. But the result is a systempunkt, whether deliberate or not.

Somali pirates keep hundreds of hostages in pirate city of Eyl. There have been 36 successful hijackings this year with about 14 ships and 250 crew members still being held hostage. With an entire city under control of pirates, then the next question is, are they on their own?

Somalia’s interim government is fighting a strengthening Islamist insurgency, and does not have forces to patrol its territorial waters.

Maybe, Or maybe the government and the Islamists are getting some of the loot in return for supplying arms and protection.

Why Somali pirates are hard to defeat.The oceans are huge and stopping them is dangerous. [Blackwater] “plans to dispatch the MV McArthur, a 183-foot vessel with a crew of 14 and a helicopter pad, to the Gulf of Aden to provide escort services.”

My guess: the pirates will end up like Queen Teuta, whose pirates raided in the Adriatic around 231 BC. She eventually believed she could raid Roman ships and thus challenge Rome without consequences. She was wrong.

More proof, if any be needed, of the fiendishness of the pirates: Somali pirates threatening Western videogame shipments


  1. The problem with systempunkt is that it implies a central command and control structure, a “Cabal” or pirate leaders with the deliberate and specific intentions of destabilizing globalization. Unfortunately this hyperaggro Foot Clan doesn’t actually exist, and the pirates are more likely what you said, just a band of criminals.

    Given a review of the history, I’d say the problem of piracy has two basic solutions, both of them ghastly.

    The first is invasion of safe harbors, and while it would be nothing short of my liberal interventionist wet dream to plunk down 300,000 troops on the Horn of Africa, as of right now its economically, militarily and politically inconceivable. There is just no stomach in Washington for a third Barbary War, or something akin to it anyway.

    The other option is our old Western Colonial stand-by – “pacification.” Quite frankly, you have to kill them all. Not prosecute them, not lock them up, not sell them into slavery (Sorry, China), but you have to absolutely kill every last one. The downside to this is, of course, that you have big powerful Navy destroyers from countless different countries who may or may not like each other very much operating in VERY CLOSE quarters (like the Straights of Hormuz times 1000). The opportunity for unfortunate diplomatic incidents would be extremely high, ranging from the expensive (sinking/destroying valuable market wares) to embarrassing (exposing secret cargo/shipping activity) to the downright incendiary (Saudis shooting at Israelis).

    Until major security players in the international community (US, China, India, EU, Russia) AND the security peanut gallery (Saudi Arabia, Israel, South Africa) make a FIRM and OBVIOUS commitment to either of those options, we’ll continue to see the same results.

  2. Problem is, plunking down 300,000 troops doesn’t always work, as witness Vietnam and Iraq, and you can’t kill them all because you don’t know who they are, and besides their friends and families would then track you down like dogs and feed you to the sharks.

    One good solution would be to have Somalia as a functioning state again.

    The real problem is, who wants to take on this den of thieves? It would be bloody.

    Maybe if a few pirate craft got blown up by assault helicopters, they might calm down.

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