Monday, November 24, 2008

Pen Meets Paper, Nov 24, '08

Pen Meets Paper
Opinion by Helge Nome
Some things don't change. In the 1790ies, during the Napoleonic wars pirate ships, based in my home town of Kristiansand, Norway, preyed on the Baltic Sea trade supplying the British/American colony side of the conflict. My sister's investigations, while researching a book on the subject, revealed that some 400 American colonists were held for ransom in Kristiansand at one point, making the owners of local pirate ships wealthy men.
Supertankers are currently being held for ransom in ports of Somalia, shanghaied by pirates in fast moving motor boats. And the party is on in the home communities of the pirates. In a recent interview, one fisherman turned pirate, stated that they were merely protecting the territorial waters of Somalia from illegal traffic and the dumping of toxic waste, as Somalia currently does not have a functional government.
The difference between the two scenarios, separated in time by about 200 years, is that the King of Denmark/Norway gave the nod of approval to his pirates, whereas the puppet regime in Mogadishu is powerless to influence the behavior of local pirates.
For several hundred years the European powers created colonies out of territories stretching across the surface of the globe in Africa, America and Asia. They co-opted local minority groups to work with them to establish regimes that were dependent on the colonizing nation to maintain political power over a given territory. This is precisely what has recently happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it has everything to do with the control of, and access to, rich energy sources.
And now something else is happening, which is like an echo from the past and has been reported in “The Guardian” newspaper:
“Rich governments and corporations are triggering alarm for the poor as they buy up the rights to millions of hectares of agricultural land in developing countries in an effort to secure their own long-term food supplies.

by Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
(The Guardian)

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf, has warned that the controversial rise in land deals could create a form of "neo-colonialism", with poor states producing food for the rich at the expense of their own hungry people.

Rising food prices have already set off a second "scramble for Africa". This week, the South Korean firm Daewoo Logistics announced plans to buy a 99-year lease on a million hectares in Madagascar. Its aim is to grow 5m tonnes of corn a year by 2023, and produce palm oil from a further lease of 120,000 hectares (296,000 acres), relying on a largely South African workforce. Production would be mainly earmarked for South Korea, which wants to lessen dependence on imports.”
For a copy of the full article, check my blog
Some things don't change.

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