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Don’t Like Dealing with Terrorists? Bring Them Down

June 3rd, 2014 - 1:20 pm

I was in the room in 1985 during the US/Iran/Israel negotiations that eventually led to Iran-Contra, and while I had no authority to make commitments for the American government, I had plenty of opportunity to ask questions and talk at length with the others.  It was not a happy experience, and it was worsened by the knowledge that, while we spoke, a top American CIA officer was being tortured to death by the Iranians.

Hostage negotiations between a Western democracy and a hostile totalitarian regime lopsidedly favor the evil regime.  Its leaders do not care about human life, while ours are often driven by concern over the fate of their citizens.  You can see that in the case of Israel, which releases hundreds of terrorists for a single Israeli hostage, and you can see it in those US/Iran/Israel negotiations back in ’85:  President Reagan was very passionate about saving our hostages, as Israeli prime ministers, including Begin and Netanyahu, have been about saving theirs.

Our leaders have long claimed that we don’t pay for the release of hostages, nor do we negotiate with terrorists.  False on both counts.  Indeed, I don’t know of any democratic country that doesn’t do both.  To stay with Iran, President Carter negotiated a deal for the release of the diplomats from our Tehran Embassy–the deal entailed the release of Iranian funds blocked in US banks–and Reagan’s several deals with the Iranians sent weapons to the mullahs.  More recently, Obama’s negotiations with Iran have also included American hostages in Iranian jails, as we know from the fact that he raised that question with Iranian President Rouhani during their phone conversation last September.

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Top Rated Comments   
There are hostages and then, there are hostages. It is ridiculous to show the same concern for a high-ranking CIA officer, who is being tortured by his captors, as for an Army private who may very well be a deserter, or even a collaborator. In the former case, there is a definite national security issue, since the hostage may divulge secrets harmful to his country. In the latter case, the national security issue is on the other side; the prisoners exchanged for the hostage may be far more dangerous to the country, than the option of simply leaving the hostage in captivity.

In the Bergdahl case, all the negotiating advantages should have been with the US side, but the negotiators were apparently so inept, that they made a terrible deal. Either that, or someone high up on the American side, really wanted to provide aid and comfort to the enemy.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Simply put; the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity, from
Which Western Civilization derived their ethical roots, is
'Love of neighbor', 'turn the other cheek', and the golden rule
to 'do on to others As you'd have done onto you.' Not so with Islam
which condemns non-believing 'infidels' to the status of slaves
Or condemns them to death and requires deception and and
Every form of moral perversion in order to attain its goal
Of world domination in the name of its unholy Demi-god.
This conflict, the 'war on terror', is more than another regional squabble
Or territorial dispute. It is nothing less that the existential battle
Of good versus evil. And if you think that's a gross
Over simplification....just keep your eyes open and see what
Lies ahead. This is only the beginning and it's likely
To touch each of us in a very personal way.
Keep the Faith !
(show less)
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mr. Ledeen, if you were privy to the situation in Beirut and Lebanon in the 1980's, then you have undoubtedly heard of how the Soviet KGB handled the negotiations when one of their resident agents had been kidnapped.
I was given to understand that a certain Arab gentleman's head was delivered to a doorstep in a certain neighborhood with his private parts inserted into, but still protruding from his mouth.

Now I didn't hear if the Chekists got their guy back unharmed, but I did hear that the KGB had no more trouble with "that sort of thing" from that sort of people.

If you're not willing to be hit and hit back at least as hard, then don't climb into the ring.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (41)
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All this "dealing" reminds me of our old American Indian negotiations. Neither side ever walked away from the table truly satisfied that it was "Peace for our time".
It is clear that regime toppling is the only way.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The deals with the enemy over hostages are probably not as one-sided as they appear. We tend to kick their butts massively when we meet on the battlefield.

In the six months after Gilad Shalit was taken by Hamas, Israeli raids in Gaza killed probably 500 Hamas terrorists. Many of those returned in exchange for him were criminals and old-timer terrorists. Only a handful were senior Hamas operatives.

One should be able to understand that the enemy also has his mind eaten by the fact that his compadres are rotting in US or Israeli prisons. It eats at him and he spends an inordinate amount of time trying to capture hostages for trade. Apparently Bowe is the only American hostage in Afghanistan. Obviously the Taliban haven't been doing to well in this endeavor. In Israel no hostages have been taken since Gilad Shalit, over five years ago. Even the Iranians still want to know about the fate of four of their politicians who disappeared in Lebanon in the '80s.

Israel captured several Lebanese that were held for over ten years with the expectation that they could be used to trade for information about Ron Arad, a missing Israeli aviator. In the end these hostages never provided any info and were returned along with Samir Kuntar and all other Lebanese held in Israel in exchange for the bodies of the four Israelis taken by Hezbollah in 2006.

Those advocating KGB methods should remember how well Russia did in Afghanistan. Having said that, holding enemy terrorists in prison does invite attempts to trade hostages. I don't think the Russians ever sent back a CIA agent in a suitcase. But the hangman or a firing squad or a long walk off a short pier might avoid the problem of the enemy taking our people hostage.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sometimes the government _demands_ submission to terrorists. For example, the L.A. police refuse to issue concealed carry permits on the grounds that "that's not the way we want to deal with crime" and instructs citizens to pay the ransom when some urban terrorist threatens to murder innocent civilians (i.e. _you_) unless you turn over your wallet or vehicle to him.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The birddog exchange should have left all enemy on the ground dead including birddog and 5 taliban detainees with his mom and dad left standing there among the bodies. They being told to don't even think about returning to the USA and good luck!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately, here in Israel, we pardon before release, and it doesn't look like the Knesset will now elect a President who will be willing to refuse the Prime Minister.

But why aren't US hostage trades (with Iran) immediately followed by strikes upon the enemy, say by taking out a refinery or set of oil wells?

No point in taking hostages if you can't trust the enemy to play fair.

BTW, there are lots of captured Israelis (including on American) whose whereabouts are still unknown. I once had the honor of speaking to a parent of one of them; he never gave up hope, but it is likely he would not have wanted an unbalanced Shalit-like deal, even to save his son.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Israelis trade hundreds, we traded five. How is that a bad deal? Seems pretty good.

I am not worried about encouraging more warlike behavior from the enemy. Really, they get worse?

Peace, goodwill, confinement, time. That is the way to defeat this enemy. The "Arab world" is our our enemy, many of them are our friends. How many Roman Prelates were killed? Rome still stood, no external enemy could defeat it.

In the Bible, it states that Saudi Arabia will stand with the West at the end times. Just sayin.

A theory: Berganthal had to be gotten back, so the Pentagon could not use him as a pretext to extend the war. The Pentagon is the target here. If so, Obama did good.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I seem to recall the "Barbarians" defeated the Romans; is my history wrong?

I do not know where the Bible says that, but I suppose in the final battle, Arabia may well join the West in the attack upon the messiah's (*) resurrected Kingdom of Israel. I presume the West (aka the Evil Empire of Edom/Rome, the fourth kingdom in Daniel, according to the Rabbis) will attack for "humanitarian" reasons, once the new government starts executing adulterers and homosexuals, for example. They probably won't be too happy about the animal sacrifices, either (Well, what do you think the Temple is for?)

(I'm not being at all sarcastic or sardonic, and I have no intention on being on the side of God's enemies when the time comes. And yes, it is practically impossible to give any criminal penalty under Rabbinic/Pharisaic law.)

(*) No capitalization; we are speaking about a human being, after all.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Can't see America as the bad guys, I meant Saudi Arabia would also be one of the good guys, in the end. A question of interpretation, og course.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
From the New Crusaders' Bible, 2250 edition (Actually, I put this together myself; it sounds vaguely like something a religious book might contain):

"At the last, when all other means had been exhausted, the Free Peoples grew weary of endless war, and drew upon the secrets that their wise men had revealed and their most marvellous artificers had embodied in devices; devices that had lain, unused and sleeping, in their lairs, and in the steel sharks swimming all over the world in the lightless deep, for three score years and more.

And in that hour did the devices awaken, and the clouds of agony and vengeance did rise above the land of the Enemy, and the fires of Heaven did consume the Enemy, and their shadows were set in the stones and the ash of their burning rose high into Heaven and then fell, poisoning the land it fell upon, and the Enemy's holy places were no more, and there was an end to seven score decades of war, and peace was upon the Earth - for a time."

We can do it. We should. Mecca should have become a quarter-mile-deep hole lined with trinitite, on 9/12.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have a funny feeling that Mecca/Medina are going to be on the menu in my lifetime. Here's why:

This "war" still isn't the war it's going to become. Not if we continue down this path, and the likelihood is good that we will. We will cause it to escalate through either studied indifference to the long term consequences of our inaction, or,
through the deliberate design of taking the U.S. down several notches. Whatever. So, the war will continue to escalate as it has for the last 13 years, but not on a straight line basis, a parabola. The rate of hostility isn't simply increasing, it's compounding. So it goes like this...

...It gets so bad that even the doves earn their bona fides and no one is left untouched. Then, the awful scenario takes hold, and for the same reason as the dropping of Atomic bombs in WWII. Among all except fringe lefties, it is acknowledged that the Japanese would not surrender barring divine intervention.
The Atom Bomb provided the "divine intervention" needed for the Japanese to
understand that their world view was no longer valid. They changed from the
inside, literally.

Don't consider this lightly. Islam, in its current incarnation, cannot be brought to heel through less than divine intervention---whatever form it might take.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not clear what good this would do. I agree Mecca should be on the table, but what would actually striking it (without some sort of ultimatum first) obtain, except an immediate nuclear strike on Jerusalem?

What would you do for an encore?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm leaving the door open. Do you expect an increase in escalation, a maintaining of the status quo or a decrease in tensions. islamists want this, they want to kill. They want to own us. It's what they do, stake their territory and create an historical claim of ownership. Hell, they're doing it on college campuses. They're doing it everywhere they can. They won't stop until they are stopped. They won't be stopped until
they understand that their path is at odds with any fantastic version of reality that they can muster.

You're asking me what good this would do. Forget that. I'm describing what's going to happen. The west is finding in short order, that it's back is to the wall. When that mindset becomes ingrained, islam will finally meet the enemy it has mythologized for centuries. No highmindedness, just the way things go.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks Linus. Yes there is obviously a good deal we don't know yet (the known unknown), and beyond that, the overall context is foggy (unknown unknown). I hope that there are enough angry people that we'll get some of these facts...
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"A Desert Called Glass"

An engaging little story from:

http://newrebeluniv.wordpress.com/

They were all gathered in one place. The Hajj was the perfect time to have a strategy and coordination meeting. The blessings of Allah and his prophet were on them all. They had just sat down to a meal of traditional rice and lamb and were going to save the business talk for later. They had time. Their sources told them that their enemies were on the run and had unilaterally given up and gone home. The hated Americans had no stomach for a fight and abandoned Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Islamic world. Even the filthy Jews seemed to have pulled back their spies and allies to their own territory. This was the perfect time to go on the offensive. The entire Western world would learn submission.

***

On the border between India and Pakistan, a different conversation is taking place. A junior captain in the Indian Strategic Rocket forces has an uncontrollable smile on his face. “REALLY? You would not be shitting on me like this?” His commander confirms, “it is an order, from the top. We will be eliminating our nuclear stockpile as part of our new treaty with America and the Russians. A Global peace initiative.” The Indian captain smiles broadly. Good cheer spreads to the other officers in the room and he sat at his control console and began to enter the instructions.

***
35,000 feet over the Islamic Republic of Iran, an obsolete Russian Airplane was lumbering along on a direct path to Tehran International Airport. The pilot was hand chosen. He had lost his only son when Islamic terrorists stormed the child’s school years earlier. He didn’t really care about the orders he had. Something about global peace initiative to reduce nuclear stockpiles. But he was really happy to be delivering this particular cargo.

***
Mecca – Coffee was being served and greasy hands were being cleaned on shirt fronts. Servants were carrying away the remains of the feast.

Then it all changed in a blink.

The people inside did not even have time for their minds to register confusion about what was happening to them.

And then they were gone.

***

35,000 feet over Mecca. A US B-2 bomber turned gently onto a new heading. LTC Brown muttered into the coms, “one down, three to go”. He noticed large bright flares in the distant horizon at two other points.  He calmly mutters, “Get Some” and looks back at his checklist.

***
India — The captain hit the launch button, firing his entire battery of nuclear tipped missiles into Pakistan. He remembered the faces of his cousins who had been butchered in a market bombing a few years earlier. He muttered, “Burn in Hell” as he watched the rockets leave their launchers.

***
Not all the bombs hit at the same time. Some Islamic nations had more time than others to contemplate what was befalling them. But it didn’t matter. The results were the same. The 1000 largest Islamic population centers in the world had all just been obliterated. Other targets had been destroyed using conventional weapons when they bordered on “friendly” areas.  60 percent of the Islamic population of the world had been instantly incinerated.  Half of the survivors would die in the following days due to exposure, disease, fallout, and starvation.  No international organizations were organizing humanitarian relief efforts to come save them.   The effect was dramatic and permanent. Most of the world had expended most of their nuclear arsenals and their stockpiles of evil cluster bombs and determined to live in peace with each other henceforth. The world lived happily ever after.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are hostages and then, there are hostages. It is ridiculous to show the same concern for a high-ranking CIA officer, who is being tortured by his captors, as for an Army private who may very well be a deserter, or even a collaborator. In the former case, there is a definite national security issue, since the hostage may divulge secrets harmful to his country. In the latter case, the national security issue is on the other side; the prisoners exchanged for the hostage may be far more dangerous to the country, than the option of simply leaving the hostage in captivity.

In the Bergdahl case, all the negotiating advantages should have been with the US side, but the negotiators were apparently so inept, that they made a terrible deal. Either that, or someone high up on the American side, really wanted to provide aid and comfort to the enemy.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
i don't think we yet know the full story. there is still something missing, maybe several somethings. why the big rush? surely not Bergdahl's health; the video was filmed in December. what, then?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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