Understanding Maritime Ratlines
UNITED STATES SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND MACDILL AFB FL INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE
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On a balmy night in July 1927, armed only with revolver, three rounds, and some gumption, Coast Guard Ensign Charles Duke single-handedly boarded a rum-runner, took charge, and ran her aground in New York Harbor. This raid foiled the delivery of 150,000 gallons of booze with a street value of 50,000, no doubt disappointing speakeasy patrons throughout the five boroughs. Across their histories, Americas maritime services have engaged in repeated and sometimes persistent efforts to stem the flow of illegal commerce on the high seas and inland waters. Daring interdictions such as Ensign Dukes demonstrated an audacious, albeit futile, approach to maritime law enforcement. A more recent example of what appear to be futile maritime interdiction efforts involves the Navys enforcement of UN sanctions against Iraq from 1991 to 2003. During this time, the Navy made over 40,000 queries, boarded over 17,000 ships, and diverted approximately 2,000 of them. Yet only a small percentage of smuggled contraband was actually stopped from these efforts, at a cost of millions of dollars a year to American taxpayers. Worse still, Iraq illegally earned over 10 billion from oil smuggling and kickbacks from a clandestine network of firms trading during the UNs Oil for Food Program between 1997 and 2002.
- Sociology and Law
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics