Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: A Failed State and Somali Piracy Threat Assessment: Criminal Deviance or Maritime Terrorism
Bennici, Jared Thomas
Current anti and counter-piracy strategies and operations by both the United States and the international community at large in the Gulf of Aden are fundamentally flawed. These strategies and resulting operations address the maritime symptoms of Somali piracy rather than the on the ground root causes at the motivational heart of problem. Such strategies are based on woefully inadequate understanding of the thematic motivations of pirates throughout the world, across history, and within the current Somali-specific crisis. At the same time, such strategies fail to account for the complex and unique experiences endured by the Somali people over the course of the last century and are therefore disconnected from reality. Left unaltered, these strategies cannot and will not provide a strategic security solution to the Somali piracy crisis and therein by default perpetuate an unacceptably perilous environment on both land and sea throughout East Africa. In order to develop an effective anti and counter-piracy strategy, the United States and its international partners must step back and reassess the assumptions that underlie their current efforts to secure the maritime domain in the Gulf of Aden.In such a recalibration, application of Dr. Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs framework demonstrates that Somali piracy in the Gulf of Aden is driven by the inability of Somalis to meet their physiological and psychological needs on land. Application of Maslow's framework also sheds light on the risks, and potential likelihood, of Somali Islamists, including al Qaeda, leveraging the physiological and psychological depravation of Somali pirates to develop an ideological alliance with Somali pirates in which they could self-actualize and advance maritime militant Islam. Such a situation could lead to a transition from criminal maritime deviance to ideologically driven maritime terrorism and pose grave security threats. Today, the anarchy that has long scarred Somalia is now a regional crisis with global implications. Nearly two decades after the Black Hawk Down debacle the United States must make tough decisions about security in East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. Application of Maslow's framework to such an effort ultimately yields a holistic alternative.
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