Not to put it *too* strongly…
One of the worst things one can do with people engaged in bad behavior is to give in to it in the hope that a concession will satisfy them. Instead, concessions just tell them that bad behavior works and gets rewards, encouraging them to do it again.
This is exactly what our president has done, putting in danger every American traveling overseas:
The White House is set to release the results of its hostage policy review, which will make clear the U.S. will not stop American families who are willing to negotiate with or pay ransoms to terror groups holding their loved ones hostage.
The administration will create a new office that will work with the American families of hostage victims, but will not change the law regarding the U.S. ransom policies, administration officials said today. A senior official said the hostage interagency fusion cell will be physically housed at FBI headquarters and initially will be run by a senior FBI official. Officials from other agencies and departments may rotate in to run the program in the future.
President Obama is set to meet on Wednesday with the families of hostages held overseas and make a statement on the review.
Though the excerpt doesn’t say so, the “terror groups” alluded to are ISIS and other Islamic jihadist organizations.
Look, I understand and sympathize with the families’ position here: having loved ones held hostage by maniacal, murderous terrorists must be a living Hell. If I were in that boat, I’d want the law to get out of my way, too, as I try to arrange their release.
I even get Obama’s position: he’s had a hostage rescue go bad in the past, resulting in the deaths of the hostages. The victims’ families are terribly sympathetic, and it’s a natural human urge to want to do something to help. So, if action on our part does no good –or even harm– then why not clear the way (1) by not enforcing the law against negotiating with terrorists?
Because the president, any president, has much more to worry about than the peril of one or a few individuals. His responsibility is to the nation as a whole, including the safety of Americans not yet taken hostage. By telling these families it’s okay to pay ransom, he has also told the jihad organizations that hostage-taking works. Kidnap an American, get some money, US won’t interfere… rinse and repeat. Robert Spencer explains why this will only encourage jihadists:
I would be very happy if this were true [that hostage-taking is against Islamic law. –PF], but I have to ask: if it is only an “extreme radical fundamentalist element” that believes this, why does it show up in Islamic legal manuals? Why does Al-Azhar University, the most respected institution in Sunni Islam, endorse ‘Umdat al-Salik, a manual of Islamic law that says this: “When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled” (o9.13)? If the capture of non-combatants is forbidden by Islam, are we to believe that these captured women and children were acting as soldiers? If the vast majority of Muslims reject this sort of thing, why does Al-Azhar say that ‘Umdat al-Salik “conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community (ahl al-Sunna wa al-Juma’a)”?
If the killing of these hostages is likewise forbidden, why does the same manual stipulate that prisoners can be killed, exchanged for ransom (why exchanged for ransom, if they are not hostages?), enslaved, or released, depending on what is best for the Muslim community (o9.14)?
I have the Umdat al-Salik on my bookshelf and can attest the above quotes are accurate. Jihad-terror groups know this, too. It can reasonably be argued that their religion endorses hostage-taking.
It’s said the road to Hell is paved with good intentions; this is an on-ramp. By making this decision, I fear Obama has declared it open season on Americans all through the Middle East and across the globe.
And yes, I know Reagan negotiated for the release of hostages in Lebanon back in the 80s. We’ve done it since, too. It was a mistake then and a mistake ever after. Harsh as it may be to say “no ransom” knowing full well the possible consequences, it is still a decision that has to be made for the safety of others.
The proper course is to let hostage takers know two things: first, that they will never be paid ransom. Second, that if they harm our people, we will hunt them down and kill them, no matter how long it takes. Let them know there is no reward, but instead a terrible price to pay for kidnapping Americans.
via Biased Girl
(1) By unilaterally deciding to not enforce a law passed by the legislature, in defiance of his constitutional duties. Again.