Has international law gone nutless?
I though it used to be that any ship capable of operating in international waters could carry armed personnel - including private leisure boats - for the personal protection of the crew - and that said crew were also permitted to use weapons to defend themselves if their ship were attacked in international waters.
It also used to be that pirates were fair game and if you killed the lot, who fucking cared?
Quite seriously, the cargo ships should be allowed to carry ranged weapons capable of destroying/sinking the dhows and such that the pirates favour and the crew should have access to, and be trained in the use of, small arms - pistols and SMGs - should the pirates manage to board their ship.
If the Yanks, Poms, or whomever don't like armed "civilian" ships entering their ports, tough luck. It worked quite well for centuries when most merchant ships carried cannon and armed crews.
The small arms stay on board the ship - in a locked armoury - and the anti-ship weapons are stowed when in friendly waters. They come out when in international waters - especially in areas where pirates operate.
As to the pirates, when they start bearing down on a cargo ship they get one warning shot across the bow followed by a "fuck-off-and-die" shot amidships if they have not diverted within 30 seconds - long before they get within RPG range.
As to the Guardian readers: no one forces the pirates to attack ships, it is what they choose to do. Being shot at, and possibly killed, is a known hazard for anyone who chooses to take up arms. One can assume that the pirates are fully aware that they risk being fired upon in return and are willing to take that risk, so therefore...
What am I doing? Logical arguments are incomprehensible to Guardian readers.
To rephrase: Shut up and deal with it!
Self defense is an inalienable human right. The pirates of yore might seem romantic with their cannons, cutlasses, single- or double-shot flintlock pistols and tricorned hats when viewed through the hazy lens of "bloody near three hundred years" but in reality they were a bloodthirsty force to be reckonned with even when merchant ships carried cannon, blades and flintlocks of their own.
Back then, the solution was simple: "kill them before they kill you."
Frankly I do not have a problem with that being the solution again - especially now that it's RPGs, 600-round-per-minute SMGs or "assault rifles" and 8- to 17-shot pistols against unarmed sailors.
Not a particularly romantic creature, your modern pirate - and I suspect that was how they viewed our "romantic" 1700's pirates back in the 1700s... not "romantic" at all.