At that point, I didn't know about Michele Lynn Ballarin. And, I'm a trifle dubious about people who are chiefly known for having a lot of money. Think Paris Hilton.
I was even more dubious, when I found out that she not only planned to free the ships and the hostages. She plans to end Somali piracy altogether.
Now, I think she has a better chance of ending the Somali piracy mess than the Saudis, India, America, or the United Nations. And, may be able to do it without running that part of Somalia through the meat grinder of a military operation.
Mommy WarbucksMichele Lynn Ballarin runs SelectArmor, that designs and makes body armor and provides security services. She's certainly part of the "military-industrial complex," but probably isn't a CIA spook. People related to American intelligence and military communities are on the board of another of her companies, though. That company's name is Black Star.
She says that she's out to profit by ending piracy, helping Somalia get on its feet, and then marketing Black Star's services to other failed states.
Sounds good to me.
Impending Death Encourages Clarity of ThoughtBallarin says that Al Shabaab's threat to hunt down the Somali pirates "has concentrated the minds of the pirates," as an article in military.com put it.
"She says the pirates understand the gravy train they have ridden for the last few years from their ill-gotten gains is coming to an end.
" 'They have snatched too many ships. They have too many navies watching them and now Al Shabab enters the picture,' she explained. 'So they know they're not going to be able to maintain this activity.' "
But, She's Unclean!Ballarin certainly isn't a peacemaker of the Code Pink or Cindy Sheehan stamp. Which is why I think that she's got a chance of succeeding.
It's nice to want to "give peace a chance," but it helps to know a little bit about people, what motivates them, and what doesn't. I think that Ballarin has that knowledge: You don't run a successful business if you don't.
As for her close ties with the American military and the CIA, that may disqualify her from speaking at some of the 'better' American colleges and universities. On the other hand, I'm used to the idea that people with colorful backgrounds can do some good. And have: like Jean Lafitte.
In the news:
- "Prosecuting Captured Somali Pirates Poses Challenges"
FOXNews (November 26, 2008)
- "Somali Pirates Call on American Benefactor"
Military.com (November 25, 2008)
- "Islamists on trail of Somali pirates"
Reuters (November 22, 2008)