Monday, February 23, 2015

CNN explores the ransom debate

CNN has conducted a debate today on the question of negotiating with terrorists.  The US government will not negotiated with ISIS to release kidnapped civilian journalists or humanitarian workers, but has sometimes done so with soldiers, releasing their own captured Taliban soldiers.
US law also prohibits families or individuals from paying ransom to free hostages overseas.  That would also prohibit crowdfunding campaigns (or social pressures) to rescue victims of internaitonal incidents this way online.  
Of course, the US will try commando or Seal raids, and has even tolerated or encouraged private raids, like one sponsored by EDS and Ross Perot to free employees from Iran in the late 1970s.
And some European countries will pay ransom, or allow citizens to. 
The US argues that doing so encourages further kidnappings.
The issue becomes more wicked as civilians are taken outside of what was previously viewed as a conflict zone, such as the taking and execution of Coptic Christian workers in a remote area in Egypt. Libya is also at risk.
Some have expressed concerns that kidnappings could occur in Turkey, with smuggling of victims across the porous border.  Beyond those areas, it’s hard to see whether this could happen.  But if it did, it would complicate the ransom question. I have said on a Wordpress blog that I do not participate in Internet rescue appeals and cannot expect that to be done ever for me.
The dichotomy between the deference to civilian v. military hostages reflects older debates over conscription and universal military service.  “Asymmetric warfare”, like it or not, makes anyone into a potential soldier.  Israel has experienced his reality for decades.  Sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, there are advantages to experiencing military service, and idea that drove my participation in the DADT debate.  

For the record, the latest story on the "Mall threat" seems to be here on ABC, link

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