Thursday, December 13, 2007

PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM AND HOSTAGES



One of the most morally difficult human-induced disaster is one with wich governments and law enforcement agencies have become increasingly familiar during the last two decades: political terorism and the taking of innocent hostages provides trmendous publicity for whatever cause they represent, a sense of personal martyrdom and heroism fot themselves, adulation from their followers, and a powerful negotiating of chip.
Terrorism in the modern sense is violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians for political or other ideological goals. Most definitions of terrorism include only those acts which are intended to create fear or "terror", are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants. Many definitions also include only acts of unlawful violence.
Understanding ho best to deal with hostage-taking terrorists has proved to be a difficult task that raises several important psychological - as well as moral - issues. Psychologists themselves ar divided on the bets course of action (Jenkins, 1983; Merari, 1985; Pruitt and Rubin, 1986; Baron and Byrne, 1988).
The most direct and obvious approach to a hostage taking is to use force to free those being held. The drawback, of course, is the danger to the lives of the hostages, either from the deliberate actionsof their captors or from the unintended action of their would-be rescuers. Although force has occatsonally been used - as with the Israeli commando rescue of airplane passengers being held in Entebbe airport in Uganda in the 1970s - in most cases the hostages are so heavily guarded that the possibility of loss of life is unacceptably high.

A second approach is to assume that the hostage's lives must be saved at ny cost. If this proposition is followed, the demands of the terrorists are met, within some limits, and they may be provided with publicity, freedom from jailed compatriots, money, or the opportunity to escape without punishment. Although this strategy often leads to the release of hostages, it has a major drawback. It provides a model to others would-be terorists, illustrating the success of terrorism.

A third approach is to refuse to deal with terrorists under any circumstances, no matter how many hostages have been taken. Accorting to this strategy, terrorists who are ignored by government authorities present models who are not rewarded, thereby decreasing the probability of modeling effects and ultimately reducing terrorism over the lng term. The disadvantage of such a policy, of course, is that it provides little in the way of hope or consolation for hostages and their families at the time of crisis, and it may in fact increas the likehood of injury or death at the hands of the terrorists.

There is, however, an intermediate approach in which negotiations between terorists and authorities would occurunder a total news blackout. Terrorists are thus deniedthe reinforcement of press coverage and are unable to act as models for others. Moreover, negotiatiors insist on the release of hostages, and terrorists are made responsible and are ultimately tried for any criminal acts such a murded and kidnapping. Authorities must then follow through by pursuing terrorists, trying them in court, and sending them to prison

The difficulty with such as approach is that it ignores many of the political realities of terrorism. For example, political leaders may face almost irresistable pressures to do everything in ther power to release hostages, especially when hostages make well-publicized, pitiful please to be saved. Furthermore, what is best in the long run may not be optimal in the short term. Clealy, dealing with terrorists is a difficult exercise for negotators - not to mention the torturou ordeal faced by the hostages theselves.

40 comments:

janina said...

The second picture is awesome!!!!!:D

janina said...

Oops!!! My mistake. Didn't mean to write first comment here..:/ so..I wanted to say that ths topic is really thorough and informative. Sorry, but I didn't like much the third picture:(

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