On Tuesday morning one listens in vain for any contextual history as the shallow Gwen Thompkins reports on the seizure of a Saudi supertanker by Somali pirates. Anytime NPR covers Somalia be ready to have your memory scrubbed and reprogrammed.
On the other hand, if you turn to some far-flung leftist, conspiratorial news source like...say...the Voice of America you'll find this little nugget of information:
Pirate activities in Somalia stopped briefly in 2006 under the Islamic Courts Union, the group that seized power from Mogadishu-based factional leaders and quickly gained popular support by restoring law and order in many parts of the country. A ban on piracy was strictly enforced.I'm not saying that the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was a noble government, but for God's sake they were bringing much desired stability to Somalia and were even sending overtures to the US. Instead of encouraging the moderate elements of the ICU and dealing with them diplomatically, the US opted for the Ethiopian invasion and violent overthrow of the ICU. This policy has been linked not only to a rise in Somali piracy, but has had the effect of strengthening the most radical and dangerous Islamist factions in Somalia. (Can you say, "Blowback.")
As the Islamic courts began consolidating under the control of militants, neighboring Ethiopia, with the support of the United States, intervened in December 2006, ousting the Islamic Courts Union and installing a secular - but deeply unpopular transitional government.
You'd would think any story on Somali piracy would have at least some mention of this history - unless, of course, the goal of the reporting is to obscure the historical context and misinform listeners.