Monday, May 02, 2005

Hostages: What Is To Be Done?

Carpe Bonum has had a strong response to the great work of the good Dr. Shackleford in interviewing the family of American hostage Roy Callums. Specifically, Craig was moved by Roy's daughter Carrie's feeling that there has to be more to a hostage rescue operation than saying 'we don't negotiate with terrorists'. He presents a list of alternatives (please read his post for more), and invites comments.

Let me begin by saying my heart goes out the family of Roy Callums and all other families facing such a horrible ordeal. My initial reaction when faced with a hostage situation is, I imagine, similar to the one facing the firefighters at Ground Zero: hopelessness and despair. Nothing can be done, in other words...but of course, something can and must be done. So, like those firefighters, we have to fight through the despair and realize that some things are worth dying for, and we can't just let our own citizens rot in captivity.

Craig suggests making hostages a responsibility of the military rather than the State Department. I'll agree with him there; it doesn't make sense, when you say no negotiations, to send in diplomats. Essentially, we're talking a rescue operation here. What that means, of course, and what is hard to swallow, is that there is a substantial risk that the hostage(s) will die. I think even the hostages themselves would rather take that risk, though, then face the never-ending torment of waiting for....well, what?...Not knowing would be part of the torment.

I must disagree with my good friend on his suggestion of infiltrating Aljazeera, tempting though it may be (and his other ideas on media disruption and cyber-espionage are uniformly excellent). When Craig talks of the propaganda value of hostages, I can't help but think the propaganda value of discovering a U.S. mole in the Aljazeera ranks would be through the roof.

Obviously, I've only scratched the surface of the issue...I once again recommend the post at Carpe Bonum to you for further reading; it's obvious Craig put a lot of thought and effort into it. I want to go into this deeper at some point, hopefully, after I have more time to digest it and go back and look at the history of some of the more famous hostage rescue attempts. The one thing I'm sure we can all agree on, though, is that we mustn't forget these citizens of ours just because they're not always front-page news. To be continued...

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