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Global Responses to Maritime Violence

Global Responses to Maritime Violence

Cooperation and Collective Action

Edited by Paul Shemella

Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2016, 312 pages

Book Review published on: March 17, 2017

Global Responses to Maritime Violence is a collaborative effort between specialists in the fields of terrorism, global threats, maritime security, governmental emergency response procedures, transportation industry, maritime special operations, maritime international law, and retired naval officers. The various authors bring their tremendous knowledge and expertise to produce a discussion of armed maritime crime including piracy, robbery and theft, terrorism, smuggling, and pollution. They provide broad conceptual frameworks that governments may use to develop their own organizations and skills to counter these activities. The focus of the discussion is on the day-to-day activities of violence rather than on nations with a wartime footing.

Global Responses to Maritime Violence is well written, logical, and relatively free of inconsistencies, and it does not require a detailed understanding of the maritime domain to understand the issues and recommendations. This book is for political, government, and maritime security professionals, novice and scholar alike, as well as military professionals interested in maritime security issues that may influence operations at sea and ashore throughout the broad spectrum of conflict.

The book’s structure follows a logical flow using a building block approach. It begins with a discussion of the forms of maritime violence, including terrorism, and provides an analytical model (a modified CARVER method) to examine the environment from the terrorist perspective to determine the probable prioritized target categories for application of scarce governmental resources. The book also steps through development of layered maritime security strategies and the synchronization and coordination of agencies for a whole-of-government approach to prevention or resolution. Included is a discussion of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As with most textbooks, it uses examples and cases studies to reinforce the points made.

If one starts with three premises: first, a nation’s ports, for a variety of reasons, are locations where border control and security are easily circumvented; second, the maritime global commons are poorly secured or policed; and third, through lack of desire or ability, many nation’s territorial waters are also inadequately policed; one can readily see that a thorough understanding of the issues at stake for a nation are essential in order to effectively combat these violent activities. Out of sight and out of mind does not mean out of influence or impact to a nation-state or states.

If your interest is examining criminal activities, terrorism, or other violence at sea and its impact on your nation-state or its military activities in far-flung operations, then I would strongly recommend that Global Responses to Maritime Violence be added to your study list.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Terrance M. Portman, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas