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Hometown: Florida
Current location: Orlando
Member since: Wed Nov 10, 2004, 08:49 AM
Number of posts: 20,958

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Did US policy on kidnappings create the pretense for war?

The day after Obama's prime time statement on going (not going) to war in the Middle East, here's what I said on Facebook...

"I'm absolutely torn about this. (it) puts us on the side of Syria's leaders which a year ago we were wanting to bomb. seems to me there's no good partners in the region and we risk making a bad situation worse. on the other hand I want revenge for the beheadings of the journos…"

But two new pieces of information have me reconsidering this morning after "what the hell let's go to war" feeling. One is that we now know that Foley's family was threatened by US military representatives not to pay ransom.

And the other is that European journalists have been rescued by ransom in amounts ranging from 1-5 million. Spain and Germany paid to avoid television beheadings of THEIR people, but we'll gladly embark on an open-ended military campaign costing trillions on the pretense that if we don't they'll behead more Americans. Why is that?

Something we've known for a long time is that we allow corporations to spring American executives kidnapped in the Middle East as well as Africa and Central and South America. It's done secretly and there's even insurance for it called K & R -- K & R is actually a thing, and not just on DU. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnap_and_ransom_insurance

Young freelancers aren't likely to be paid fairly, much less have K & R policies.

But this isn't the only problem facing families of kidnapped American journalists. The US and Britain are out of step with European countries who do rescue their journalists. According to this article by Steve Coll in the New Yorker, negotiating consultants believe it's imperative to move ideological kidnappings to being economically motivated b/c that's how you take the political gain off the table for the kidnappers.

It makes me wonder, was our policy on kidnappings to blame for creating the pretense for war?

I'll leave you with David Rohde, an investigative reporter for Reuters and contributing editor for The Atlantic who back in 2008 was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and held for more than seven months before escaping.

In a piece that ran on August 20 on Reuters, Rohde asks:

Did America’s policy on ransom contribute to James Foley’s killing?


...Foley’s execution is also a chilling wake-up call for American and European policymakers, as well as U.S. news outlets and aid organizations. It is the clearest evidence yet of how vastly different responses to kidnappings by U.S. and European governments save European hostages but can doom the Americans. Hostages and their families realize this fully — even if the public does not.

“I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed,” Foley said moments before he was killed in a craven video released by the militant group on Tuesday. “I guess, all in all, I wish I wasn’t American.” Foley clearly spoke under duress. But his regret at being an American captive, real or not, reflected grim fact.

This spring, four French and two Spanish journalists held hostage by the Islamic State extremists were freed — after the French and Spanish governments paid ransoms through intermediaries. The U.S. government refused to negotiate or pay a ransom in Foley’s case or for any other American captives — including my own abduction by the Taliban five years ago.


Foley believed that his government would help him, according to his family. In a message that was not made public, Foley said that he believed so strongly that Washington would help that he refused to allow his fellow American captives to not believe in their government.

A consistent response to kidnapping by the U.S. and Europe is desperately needed. The current haphazard approach is failing.

James Foley must not die in vain.

Posted by nashville_brook | Sat Sep 13, 2014, 12:43 PM (104 replies)
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