The Economics and Political Economy of Transportation Security

The Economics and Political Economy of Transportation Security

Transport Economics, Management and Policy series

Kenneth Button

In this clear and observant book, Kenneth Button provides an overview of the economics and political economy of transport security, considering its policy from an economic perspective. His analysis applies micro-economic theory to transport issues, supporting and enhancing the larger framework of our knowledge about personal, industrial, and national security.

Chapter 8: Maritime security

Kenneth Button

Subjects: economics and finance, transport, environment, transport, politics and public policy, public policy, terrorism and security, urban and regional studies, transport


The existence of the sea means the existence of pirates Malayan Proverb. Maritime transportation, defined as ports, waterways and their intermodal connectors, carries about 80 percent of international trade by volume according to the United Nations. It has also, as far as historic records go, always been a target for attack. Although this has in the past largely been for commercial gain, basically piracy, rather than to terrorize larger populations, the listing of some acts of piracy seen in Box 2.1 highlights diversity in the motivations of pirates and the changing motivations for attacks. As we see, while much of this activity has been for the personal financial benefits of the individual perpetrators, there has also been a tradition of institutional piracy that has enjoyed some forms of state support. More recently these acts of piracy have been supplemented by concerns that ships may be used to deliver various weapons of mass destruction, carry hostile operatives (‘Trojan Horses’) or, contraband, or be destroyed as a terror threat to populations. In terms of the potential for carrying hostile operatives, for example, ten people were killed and 16 wounded on 14 March 2004 in a double suicide bombing at Israel’s Ashdod Port when two Palestinian suicide bombers hid behind a false wall in a 50-foot container and succeeded in infiltrating the port. The first suicide bomber blew himself up close to a group of workers standing next to a machine repair workshop, killing five people. The second detonated his bomb near the outer fence on the sidewalk in a storage and refrigeration area.

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