Prevent Hostage Kidnapping Security seminars for executives and their families
THIS AD, from the Los Angeles Daily Journal on January 14, 1977 suggests that Dr. Hacker's study of terrorism may be none too soon. He has thought a lot about it, studied it, and he knows a lot of terrorists. He has talked to PLO leaders, Israelis, Irishmen, Feds, has helped negotiate the release of Russian Jewish hostages of Arabs in Vienna, consulted with police forces, counseled the families of victims (for instance the Hearsts), and runs a well-known Los Angeles clinic which sees numerous court-referred defendants and probationers. His conclusion is that the world is going to see an increase in sectarian malice, new outlaw emerging nations, crazy leaders and international blackmail by the "power-seeking sponsors of glamorized violence." "Violence becomes uncontrolled in principle and near universal when each individual or small group claims sovereignty and is able to construct a value system justifying its own aggression. This is exactly what is happening now." Hacker offers some tentative explanations - and solutions.
In an attempt to make this complex topic even slightly manageable and comprehensible, he develops some rudimentary but helpful distinctions among forms of terror: there are crazy terro rists, criminal ones who act for personal, family or gang advantage (like the Mafia), and crusading or political terrorists, with which he is mostly concerned here. He also distinguishes between terrorism from above and from below. The airplane hijacker comes from below; terrorist political regimes (Amin, Trujillo) from above. These two types create each other: the SLA was a terrorst organization, but the Los Angeles police station exterminating it was a terrorst response.
Hacker points out convincingly that terrorism from above is not found only in Latin America or in recent European history: wire-tapping and dosiers on private citizens are techniques of a terrorist regime. "Supreme rights and highest principles, national survival, the will of God, or general welfare are forever invoked to justify shabby, brutal, or outright criminal acts" - arguments embodied in American Vietnam War rhetoric and Defense Department budget requests as long as one can remember.
It is important to know what kind of terrorist you are dealing with, Hacker says, in order to know the best and safest way of handling each situation. Authorities at present do not distinguish them, do not usually have recourse to experts who can, and seem limited to old-fashioned military or police methjods which sometimes work spectacularly (Entebbe,) but more often fall (the SLA shootout, Attica, Munich). Because all terrorists, whether crazy or crusading, are characterized by an overweening sense of justiciation, their victims are incidental means to an end, and anyone may find himself, therefore, a terrorist victim. In view of this, it is hard not to agree with Hacker that governments, for the protection of their citizens, should develop clear policies, clearly expressed values, and improved methods of dealing with terrorists.
Under what circumstances will we negotiate with terrorists? To save any life? A certain number of lives but not one or two? To save the live of "important" people but not "unimportant" ones? Will some kinds of deals be made (such as freedom for the terrorists), but not other kinds (such as prisoner exchange? There has been no consistency in the past. The lack of international accord is evident in the recent Frech release of Abu Daoud.
The policies of the United States Government, Hacker says, are by no means developed, are dominated by simplistic hopes that terrorism will just go away, or that it hasn't gotten bad enough yet to warrant special study, and are violently opposed to specially trained study-action teams which might cause jurisdictional problems with local law-enforcement agencies, whom "nobody dares touch." The FBI and CIA, as we can imagine, don't want anyone coming in to work with them, and seem to have failed to generate intelligent approaches themselves. Again, the SLA case, where the FBI spent millions and failed to find this rather visible gang of inexperienced college students, while the LA police were busy blowing them up, provides a good example of the kind of bungling that can be expected.
And what of the media, which seems so graciously, so automatically to provide to every terrorist the instant notoriety, free propaganda and access to public communication networks he requires to succeed in his enterprise? The press disguises in high-minded talk of its responsibility to present "all the news" its greed for the sensational scoop, its indifference to a long-term obligation to discourage future stagey media events. Hacker feels that "various voluntary and compulsory control schemes, avoiding crude censorship, can be suggested to reduce or eliminate spectacular advertisement effects, and to minimize the multiply ing contagion effect." In other words, the press should do something about itself, or else something should be done.
Another great problem to decide is how you tell the terrorists from the heroes and patriots. Generalizations about international terrorism are, like international politics, mined with insoluble moral and political standoffs, the passionate conviction of every faction in any dispute that its side alone is right. The tendency to confuse one's own political interest with some abstract principle or right" worth dying for," and the resulting atmosphere of moral intransigence, is one of the most sinister aspects of all. Who was right at Entebbe? (Hacker does not feel the Israelis were.) Who is right in Northern Ireland? Who the villains are and who the good guys depends entirely, as Hacker shows, on where you sit.
The question, then, of how to dissolve the confrontation of absolutes, how to abandon on a worldwide basis the attitude that being in the "right" justifies violent counterreaction, underlies the more immediate and more amenable problem of devising practical stratagems for dealing with individaul situations. The instinctive pleasure most Americans felt in the Israeli rescue at Entebbe can illustrate how very serious this problem is. Hacker points out that millions of people in the world - perhaps the majority - believe that action was "wrong."
Dr. Hacker's difficulties in organizing a subject so full of conflicting hypotheses, reflect, no doubt, the actual difficulty of formulating guidelines to deal with terrorists themselves. Hacker attempts to control the abundance of examples, qualifications and prescriptions with rhetorical devices - catchy subtitles ("Let's Make a Deal"), and rather distractingly trendy language - such as the title itself; this does the seriousness of the subject much disservice. His language is in a way the rhetorical equivalent of the simple violent solutions he deplores society for preferring to the more serious, patient, articulate means of dealing with violent provocations. His authoritarian tone, his tendency to compress wisdom into maxims as though we had to come to the end of our 50 minutes,makes the reader feel rather bullied and exhausted, perhaps contributing to the feeling of futility one derives from his high-minded conclusions. He is persuasive that nations must refrain from escalating violence with "justified" retaliations, counter-actions and revenge, but can offer no hope that they will.