One way to stop terrorism
April 17, 2002
Terrorist attacks, whether labeled as suicidal or homicidal, waged against civilian populations in any country, cannot be tolerated. No rational person can disagree with this statement.
If allowed to continue, they will proliferate, and make fear a condition of existence for all people of the world.
I ask myself: How can they be stopped, or at least minimized? Yes, it would be ideal if all people could be given a life satisfying enough that such actions would be unthinkable. This is a pipe dream.
More realistically, I would hope that governmental power could be used to destroy the sources of this scourge, even if it means going to war. But experience and logic argues that this will not deter terrorism. But what will?
The enemy, the terrorists, especially the ones who willingly sacrifice their lives for their “cause,” are impervious to threats of personal punishment. They are ready to die anyway.
They may perceive this as martyrdom, a means for securing a honorable afterlife, and/or a way to obtain rewards for their families. Most are not crazy. They are calculating in their destructive behavior. They are so deep in their belief systems that we cannot reach them with reason.
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With a feeling of regret, and not fully believing myself capable of proposing such an alternative, I think that the only way to reach these people is to threaten to destroy their families, both immediate and extended.
And I do mean destruction: assassination without trial of related men, women and children. Unless they are completely inhumane (and I’m sure there are some), most potential terrorists have some regard for their families.
We would have to demonstrate the capacity and resolve to identify and kill these possibly innocent relatives. Even those who escape immediate punishment would live with the threat throughout their lives.
If legitimate governments cannot involve themselves in such activities, then national or international clandestine organizations could take on this onerous task, placing a reward on the heads of the terrorist’s family for bounty hunters to collect.
Would this work? And can a civilized world conceive of carrying out such an uncivilized deterrent? I don’t know the answers to these questions.
Isn’t this reducing ourselves to the level of the terrorism that we are terrified of? The answer to this is YES. But when it comes to survival of our loved ones, we might have to become what we detest. I hope something else will work before we even consider this. But what?