The Scharf Lecture: The Challenges of Modern Somali Piracy

Dr. F. William Sunderman, a member of the class of 1919, established the Henry M. Scharf Memorial Lecture on Current Affairs in 1977. The lecture is in honor of his long-time friend Henry Scharf. Scharf was a member of Gettysburg College’s Class of 1925. Scharf built the Majestic Theater – a venue the Eisenhowers frequented while in Gettysburg.

Within the broad focus of “current events,” the annual lectures have provided a podium for many distinguished speakers. In 2006, Susan Eisenhower spoke before the screening of the documentary film ‘Why We Fight.”  The 2007 Scharf Lecture was given by former Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch, now President of the U.S.-China Education Trust.
This year the Scharf lecture will be given by Lieutenant Commander Claude Berube, USNR. He is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in military history with a focuse on the Jacksonian Era U.S. Navy. Berube serves as a Navy Reserve Officer, and has been mobilized several times to the Middle East, the Arabian Sea, and the Horn of Africa, where he took part in the anti-piracy movement.
Lieutenant Commander Claude Berube has been a guest speaker at several institutions and has been interviewed on radio and television programs such as Voice of America and C-SPAN’s BookTV. He recently co-authored two books: A Call to the Sea: Captain Charles Stewart of the USS Constitution and Congress: Games and Strategies, both with Prof. Steve Frantzich.
His lecture this year will focus on the challenges of modern Somali piracy. Somali piracy is a large issue facing the Horn of Africa and the Indian Sea. Somalia suffers from a underdeveloped economy and a transitioning government, so the people have turned to piracy to survive. Time Magazine states “banditry of all kinds flourishes in lawless Somalia.” Piracy endangers everyone sailing the sea, and hurts the country’s economy further by stealing from companies, hindering their ability to make a profit and provide lawful work for citizens. In fact, statistics state that in 2008, “over 80 ships were attacked by Somali pirates, and the profits where somewhere in the range of $18 million to $30 million in ransom.”
The punishment for piracy is severe. Jail time is often fifteen or more years, and convicts are often placed in cells with many other men. The main Somali jail of Bossaso is holding an estimated one hundred men on charges related to crimes committed on the sea. Cells there can reach up to a hundred degrees. For each pirate that is caught, an unknown number are rampant.
These are just a few of the challenges that Somalia faces in relation to piracy. Join the Eisenhower Institute with the Environmental Leaders Program for Lieutenant Commander Claude Berube’s discussion, tonight at 7:30 in CUB 260.
Somali Pirates
Picture shows a boat frequently used by pirates because it reaches extremely high speeds, is relatively noiseless, and can escape capture easily.

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