Friday, October 15, 2004

An excellent point about hostages

From a letter to Mark Steyn by Martin L. Shoemaker

"In one of their novels, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle explained the Israeli policy on hostages. Once captured, a hostage is legally dead. And the government immediately pursues swift and lethal retribution against the murderers, and against anyone stupid enough to be found near them. If somehow the hostage is miraculously rescued in the process, well, we'll clean up all that messy paperwork after we wash away all that terrorist blood. This approach seems cold, but it works: no one dares to take Israelis hostage. Mossad folks are nasty!

"I know that the US government doesn't have the guts to follow this policy, but I wish they did. It's the surest way to guarantee our safety abroad. If terrorists knew that hostages meant defeat, they would take no hostages.
"On those rare occasions when I travel abroad, I leave written instructions for the unlikely event that I am captured: I admit that I am already dead, I absolve the government of any responsibility in my death, and I ask as my last wish that the government show no mercy to those who killed me. And then I tell my wife that I love her, but it has to be this way for the safety of all Americans.
"And now Fabrizio Quattrocchi has set a higher standard for me. If I should ever be in his position, I have to remember: 'This is how an American dies.'"

That is exactly right. The French used to be famous for that their ruthless attitude towards terrorists and other criminals. Between the ages of 10-12, my father was posted to the US Embassy in Paris. One day, our school bus stopped in an unconventional place, and when we got out there were policemen and other emergency workers waiting. Me and the other kids who lived nearby were escorted around a bank in which two men who had robbed the bank were holding hostages and trying to negotiate a way out. Fat chance. That night the police held their bullet-riddled bodies up for the news cameras, an example for other would-be bank robbers. I can still see those men, which is hardly surprising since the shot of their bloody bodies stayed on screen for almost a minute.

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