The US policy of 'No Concessions to Terrorists': What are the pros and the cons and the implications for the US? What elements of negotiation should be integrated in the US policy or strategy?
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: The United States has been very tough on the issue of terrorism. The policy of "No concessions to terrorists" was adopted under the Reagan administration and has been since then the bottom line of the US response to the threat of terrorism. In the light of the ... read moreincreasing threat of the emergence of a new age of terrorism, where the motivations of terrorists are more mingled and where their willingness to commit the most violent acts becomes more threatening, there is an urgent need for governments to determine the more effective and realistic response. This thesis will try to examine the implications of this "No concessions to terrorists" policy: whether it is actually true in practice or not and if it is, how does it apply. The Bin Laden's case is a pertinent example that has witnessed the US government's determination to stick to their strict policy. However, the latter seems to allow some exceptions in the case of hostage taking acts where the release of hostages often constitutes part of a "deal". Would this mean that the policy applies differently whether it is viewed as tactical or strategic? Still, the policy is the same as well as the use of force as an essential mean to implement it. The US government seems reluctant to adopt more flexible measures. The questions remain: what are the implications of this policy? What are the pros and the cons of such a firm position? Is there a need to frame and adapt the response to a changing and ever-increasing globalized environment? Does this mean however that the US is condemned to embrace a rigid attitude by dint of much unproductive and unexpected result? Besides, what does the phrase "No concessions to terrorists" literally imply? By definition, a concession is the act of conceding or yielding. And conversely to the common belief, a negotiation is not a concession; negotiating does not mean giving in. Therefore, the US policy does not preclude any aspect of 'negotiation' per se. The term negotiation entails an array of meanings and aspects different from the common and primary definition which suggests that a negotiation takes place when two parties at a table explicitly agree to reach a consensus based on some common interests. As a matter of fact, a negotiation between two parties occurs when each one tries to influence the other in a particular way. According to this meaning, terrorists and the US government do negotiate. Clearly, there is a room for negotiation in the US response to terrorism. Moreover, what additional elements of negotiation should be integrated in the US policy to render it more efficient? One example would be the necessity of knowing, understanding and grasping at the roots of the other party's deepest fears, motivations and expectations. Furthermore, as Clausewitz nicely puts it, "war is the continuation of politics by other means" meaning that even in times of war, governments continue to act and run politics in a similar way as in time of peace. Should this theory apply to the way the US government handles terrorist activities? If so, is negotiation doomed to play a larger part in the modeling of the US strategy?read less