Any sensible person hearing continuing stories of brazen attacks by marauding Somali pirates must ask, "Surely something can be done?” But what? Who’s responsible? Private shipping companies? Somalia? Gulf Arab states? The UN? NATO? The EU? The US? And how? Bring in the military? Arm the defenseless? Force our own governments to invest more heavily in aid and education?
In the unpublicized initiative documented in Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky’s riveting film, the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) was formed against the express wishes of the UN. This "project" was launched when the Somali state of Puntland hired mercenaries to train its own troops, aided and encouraged by the financial support of the UAE and the military know-how of some heavy and controversial hitters. The initial idea for the PMPF came from Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, who states: “If you have a problem with wasps in your yard, you don’t follow them around with a spray can," making the case for a ground force to root out the pirates in their coves on land, instead of doing battle at sea.
“The Project takes viewers inside a secret world and invites them to question conventional wisdom: that mercenaries are necessarily evil, that international organizations are uniquely qualified to effect positive change and that transnational threats require billion-dollar solutions."—the directors
Might this be the future of peacekeeping? These are very difficult questions to grapple with, especially when all sensible available options seem to fall short.
For a very different perspective, watch Stolen Seas which we present at the Vancity Theatre on October 24th in conjunction with the Charles Scott Gallery at ECCAD.