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The capture of hostages how to negotiate with terrorists
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, 04 2007
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The capture of hostages how to negotiate with terrorists
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SERGEY BUNTMAN: Iread an interesting thing today in the Israeli blogs. Gelad Shalit’s father went to a hospital where there were wounded Palestinians. He simple went there with presents, well, Idon’t know, with oranges or something else, and he talked with some people and they discussed it in this ‘Live Journal’, why he did this, was he right or not, what this could lead to. After all, these weren’t the people who took his son hostage, not the leaders of Hamas. With another point of view, however, a young father wrote: “I’d be ready to do everything to get my son released.” As the father explained, just as you’re doing now, before contacts at the level of ordinary people, of unconcerned citizens, were stopped. Certain others are convinced, however, that because of this (the actions of the hostage soldier’s father) the soldier is still alive, and because of this he has tolerable conditions. Maybe it means nothing. Certainly, it could be perhaps, all just politics. How do you relate to such things?

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: Irelate normally to such things, and, fortunately, in spite of attempts to regulate this theme, either way there’s the public, either way there are normal people who will go negotiate anyway, whether they are forbidden or not, mothers will go help out their children, and fathers, it’s remarkable that this happens.

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Only now they can put them in tojail.

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: They could put them in jail before as well, if they wanted. One can only greet this. Do you know what we need to remember? We need to remember that syndrome that they call ‘ Stockholm’. It’s a very interesting phenomenon.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: Nowadays in any similar case they talk about it, whether it’s justified or not.


ANATOLY YERMOLIN: There are pluses and minuses to this. Usually they talk about it, at least in our country, with minuses. That it’s the hostages’ dependence on those who’ve taken them prisoner, the most flagrant example was when one of the female hostages in Stockholm became so infatuated with one of the terrorists that she married him later. In England, during the assault on the Iranian embassy, two women who were hostages covered the youngest terrorist with their own bodies when the SAS stormed the embassy. But over here we rarely talk about it in the positive sense. The positive side to Stockholm syndrome spreads to the terrorists themselves, that is, they build certain emotional relationships and the possibility that the terrorist will destroy the people he’s taken hostage diminishes to a certain extent as such emotional connectionsarise.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: By the way, how many hostages from ‘Nord-Ost’ said that just such relationships arose at certain times? Yes, certainly, it can be with the help of negotiators on the one hand


ANATOLY YERMOLIN: It’s the mission of the negotiators.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: And a completely different situation can be created on the hostage’s part. But it’s nice to imagine terrorists with glazed eyes, and the hostages as a frightened mass ready to fall in love with their captors.

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: By the way, the psychological preparations of the terrorists include how to compel, or turn people into zombies, how to relate to those they’ve seized as non-persons, as animals, as outcasts, that is, those who send the terrorists understand that there are two sides to this Stockholm syndrome.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: They get them ready and want to cut them off from this syndrome. This is another matter, as far as psychological things. My readers have sent me the question: “Why not create special groups that include professional negotiators? Psychologists who could sense exactly what is going on?” I understand the good intentions of the members of parliament who gave themselves up to be hostages, how it once was, but one little detail, one that we were abused for at the time when they asked us: “Why did you talk to this Hasmamat when the terrorist wanted to go on the air?” I was sitting in the studio with Ganapolsky back then, and with Sergey Markov, while Venediktov ran in and asked for some advice on what can be said and what’s not allowed, but everyone refused to say, and so they caused this situation because they wouldn’t make such


ANATOLY YERMOLIN: Ithink that such groups are being created, but I’m simply not sure about their professionalism. But you know we can train negotiators while the terrorists can say: “Give us that one” and they won’t talk with those the headquarters in charge of the operation offers.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: Perhaps it could be “give us the president, the prime minister, this or that specialist” is this possible?

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: Ithink so. Yes. But 12years ago Iquit because Ididn’t know.


SERGEY BUNTMAN: Iunderstand. I’d like to ask our listeners squarely: would you, as Russians, as Russians as a whole, would you trade, for one Russian corporal, 450of Kulayev’s men? If you are ready then here they are, regulars, but not leaders, but terrorists all the same, if you say ‘yes’, dial 995-81-21, if ‘no’, dial 995-81-22. And so, if you’re ready to trade one Russian corporal for 450Kulayevists, dial 995-81-21, if you’re not ready, dial 995-81-21. The voting will last five minutes. Understand that our theoretical Kulayev follower on being given back to his Kulayev homeland, how do we know if he’s a determined follower or not? He can go run back and do the same things as before. Moreover, in the Israeli situation, it could be in the context of these people doing the same thing and more. They aren’t giving up at all, but pretendingto.

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Understood. But they give money, ransom, and money can be used to support terrorist activities. For some reason, however, people are more relaxed in this regard.


SERGEY BUNTMAN: Yes, it’s not as if they’d drink it allup.


VALERY BORSHCHOV: Here this relaxed attitude, that it’s possible to pay money for release, this doesn’t summon any doubts, but exchanging prisoners often causes protests, though in principle they’re one in thesame.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: I’ll repeat the question: if you’re ready to trade one Russian corporal for 450of Kulayev’s, dial 995-81-21, if you’re not ready, dial 995-81-22. The voting will take place in another 2or 3minutes. I read something else today that, among the terrorist groups or certain political terrorists, these questions are easy to solve. Recently Fatah and Hamas argued over the leadership of Palestine, I’m oversimplifying the situation, but it’s like this, they took 4people prisoner in one night, later exchanged them, and came to some sort of an agreement. Here, aren’t we dragging out these exchanges according the logic of terrorism?

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Ithink that these are different things. When terrorist political groups decide their own problems it’s more political but when it’s a matter of gaining freedom, you understand that here the main thing is


SERGEY BUNTMAN: “Freedom” is the mainword?

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Yes, the key word. And here the most important thing is that we must decide on our values. If we decide once and for all to consider that the main thing is preserving the lives of the hostages, the main thing is to free them while destroying the terrorists is secondary, as Igave as an example at Budennovsk, then this is reality. And so if we make our main priority preserving the lives of the hostages, to save the hostages, then these actions don’t acquire the same cynical character as those of terrorist political groups.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: I’ll repeat the question: if you’re ready to trade for one Russian corporal 450Kulayevists: 995-81-21, if not: 995-81-22. And so, the logic of the terrorists, but what if you like it? What if you like getting money, to get those sitting in jail freed? Anatoly Yermolin gave us an example of statistics from the USA where the majority of the hostage situations were solved with the aid of negotiators. But how about habitual criminals? Can’t one say that this would provoke terror in the future?

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: I’m afraid to influence our listener’s voting, but certainly this logic is somewhat non-proportional. Because during negotiations the negotiators usually try to enter into a completely different logic: “We’ll turn on the lights if you release 3hostages, we’ll turn on the water and you release ten children.” The mission of the negotiators is to trade. And here, certainly, a very disadvantageous trade is taking place, but the experience here is different, the logic is different. I’m speaking about the logic of the negotiators in the field, while here we’re speaking about the logic of a political decision.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: A political decision at the level of the country (national leadership).


ANATOLY YERMOLIN: By the way, we were talking about a rift, in principle a country doesn’t abandon its own people and so there’s no rift here. Strictly speaking, at the beginning of military operations and now with one for 500, both are part of the logic of “not abandoning our own”, but only in the use of different techniques.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: For the last time I’ll repeat the question: if you’re ready to trade for one Russian corporal 450of Kulayev’s men: 995-81-21, if you’re not: 995-81-22. You have a few seconds. And Ihave a question with regards to this. Really, can someone do it, not by demanding it, well here’s this from other times, though we’ve seen the film “Saving Private Ryan”, but that’s more of a parable than a real action in WW II. Could this unfortunate corporal sacrifice himself? They could later put up a monument to him: “I don’t want people to fight over me, or for my country to lose politically,” though Iunderstand that such a sacrifice is a bit like Soviet logic

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: There’s nothing Soviet about it. By the way, I’m not calling upon this Israeli corporal. I simply wish to remind our listeners that, if we were talking about a student or a child, this would be another situation. When we’re talking about war and in my view a person who is a part of the combat brotherhood, then it’s a different situation.

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Of course, such a position


SERGEY BUNTMAN: Iasked this question on purpose: after all, he took theoath.


VALERY BORSHCHOV: This is true, but it doesn’t mean heroism. It’s the right of a person to sacrifice himself, but he makes the decision. Remember during the war there was Josef Vissarionovich (Stalin)’s thesis that we have no prisoners of war, we have only traitors to the motherland. Thus, a person who refuses to be exchanged and sacrifices himself, yes, he’s a hero, a monument, but it shouldn’t be for all of us, the rest of us, to decide this forhim.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: We can’t demand this ofhim.

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Certainly, one can’t demand such athing.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: My survey is over. 75% believe that they would exchange a corporal, though not very many voted, only about 800people. And 25% believe that they wouldn’t exchange a single corporal for 450dangerous terrorists who can potentially cause harm and take hundreds more prisoners. This is logic. All the same, is this the logic that you are selecting? From the standpoint of nonetheless, what does a country look like when it’s ready to create future problems for itself in releasing criminals, releasing terrorists, and trading them for one person, only saving the life of one person. What is going on here?


ANATOLY YERMOLIN: It’s the correct logic and reflects honor on the listening public of ‘Echo of Moscow’.


VALERY BORSHCHOV: Certainly. I think that this logic should be fundamental You know nowadays people don’t like to repeat Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s words on saving people, but it’s an absolutely correct demand and it’s universal. This includes during military operations and in terrorist acts, the main thing to save lives. This is the priority. This is the mainthing.


SERGEY BUNTMAN: “The question was framed incorrectly, in so far as Kulayev is also a citizen of Russia and we gave him up a long time ago.” Kulayev is a Russian citizen, but he’s a terrorist and this was proven in court. He took part in a terror act. Right here, inside our country, by the way. But you don’t have to go looking from some awful enemies over there, since right here we have people who are terrorizing their neighbors. You don’t know what’s going on. Ira writes: “These 450should be destroyed, and the corporal as well, without any democratic nonsense.” Well

, Ira has a nice approach to this.


VALERY BORSHCHOV: Please, this is the deformation that’s occurring in society as a result of such a position. It’s an awful phenomenon because such logic leads to the self-destruction of the nation.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: Sometimes Iget it into my head that, too often, they don’t pick up, they don’t jail, they don’t take terrorists prisoner, and they don’t seize them but destroy them on the spot. Yes, perhaps this is cynical, but captured terrorists are a means of exchange, while here it’s like scorched earth.

VALERY BORSHCHOV: I’m afraid that it’s not because it’s a means of exchange: it’s a much darker story as to why they didn’t take a single terrorists from ‘Nord-Ost’ alive. One would’ve liked to know how they got here and who sent them, who they knew, what was the chain of command, this is very important to know. But, nonetheless, we never found this out and I’m afraid that we’ll never know. By leaving them alive we might’ve been able to find out why such tragedies occur. And yet here is that one, single goal to destroy this is but the top layer, a superficial approach to the problem. The main thing is to fight the causes of terrorism, the policies. We won’t destroy terrorism; this is how it is. But its base, the soil that it lives in, this can of course be limited.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: Anatoly Yermolin?

ANATOLY YERMOLIN: Ithink that in a closed society and in successful stories, and in this case Iput success in quotation marks, and motives and events from which one or another real-life situation is taken, they are, strictly speaking, not investigating or analyzing things. They are merely thinking things up and presenting them as real. Why be surprised? The more witnesses there are, the more possibilities for objective analysis.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: Let’s return to one important aspect, here (in text messages) some very important things were said: “One doesn’t win thought numbers in war, but through knowledge. By freeing a single soldier in this way they maintain the morale of the Israeli army.”

VALERY BORSHCHOV: Of course.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: And further, the continuation: “I would send my son to serve in an army that tries this hard to free a single person.”


VALERY BORSHCHOV: This is a very worthy answer from our listeners.

SERGEY BUNTMAN: And another Oksana writes from Moscow: “You forgot that Israel is also releasing prisoners in exchange for the bodies of its soldiers.” And so, even if this boy were to kill himself in captivity, out of patriotism or a feeling of duty, either way one has to get him back. Here it seems to me are very important humanitarian considerations and very important political considerations, if we’re talking about the morale of the army. Thank you very much for taking part in this broadcast of the program “We’re looking for the exit”, with Valery Borshchov and Anatoly Yermolin. Thanks.


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