So. We have the Goliath, a giant ship, the Maersk Alabama, with 17,000 tons of cargo, 5,000 tons of which destined as “relief supplies” for Africa, hijacked by a tiny group of young, quarreling, skinny, hungry Somali “pirates,” forced by their overlords to hijack yet another ship.
The ship was American, and like so much of the cargo that travels the world, most of its cargo was, I imagine, eventually bound for America, with cheap, off-shored consumer “goods.”
One year’s worth of global shipping, from wired.com: “Scientists have come up with the first comprehensive map of global shipping routes based on actual itineraries. The team pieced together a year’s worth of travel itineraries from 16,693 cargo ships using data from LLoyd’s Register Fairplay and the Automatic Identification System, which tracks vessels using a VHF receiver and GPS.”
As we know, pirates sail the seas, especially along the Somali coast. So the situation was ripe for yet another bloated American ship to be hijacked by skinny young men dreaming of “millions” so they can “go to America!”.
Not so fast, boys. The U.S. Navy protects American consumer culture, don’t you know? And as Captain Phillips, in this undeniably fascinating and multilayered film urges, indeed begs, the hijackers, when three Navy ships arrive and start to surround their puny little lifeboat in which he is held hostage, “Surrender. You can’t win. They won’t let you win.”
That’s right. the Empire controls the seas, makes it safe for American consumers.
I was struck by the enormity of the enterprise, this off-shoring business, at the very start of the movie, when Captain Phillips arrives at the gigantic dock, full of containers, container ships, and fantastically high and complex machinery to move them on and off. Imagine just how much embedded energy we have buried into that which moves our sacred stuff back and forth!
Apparently this consumer business of ours is sacred, else why would it need such massive protection?
But of course that isn’t the point. The point is just to make the stuff. And the point is just to make the warships, and the weaponry, and the cargo ships and their containers. It’s all stuff, all stuff that somebody, most likely some gigantic corporation networked into an even more gigantic megacorporation then somehow funnels what we call “money” out of this stuff and into somebody’s — very few, remember, 85 individuals have as much money as the bottom half of the world’s population — fat, greedy hands.
Then there’s the heroes of this operation, “our” famous Navy Seal operatives, part of the massively increased “special forces.” And of course, they are taut-muscled, grim, poker-faced, all business, parachuting in to take over the operation since, of course, any time four puny hijackers manage to get an American hostage, the entire corporatized military industry complex goes on high alert! Oh goodie! Time to show our stuff! Get those puny bastards, like buzzing flies they are, trying to get what is not theirs. It’s ours! OURS! The whole world is ours! Pax Americana!
So at the moment “all three lights were green,” they expertly popped three of them in the head, having taken their skinny “captain” into custody earlier, luring him with lies, and then charging and convicting him. He got to America all right, and sits now in a prison, only one hour from where I live, sentenced to 33 years.