The Drawing Board: Negotiating with Terrorists

The world is full of things we take for granted. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but there are examples, trust me.

One example is that it’s wrong to negotiate with terrorists. We’ve all heard it before, whether it’s some politician on television, or a badass cop on a hit TV show, or maybe even a friend who’s somehow on television. Man, TV rules! But even though our government does negotiate with terrorists, we all like to pretend that we don’t, and that this is a good thing. There are several reasons we might do this, but when you consider them, I think you’ll agree it’s time to head back to the drawing board, which is where we are, so let’s do this.

Negotiation is just good business. It’s a fact. You don’t have to read a book by Donald Trump to know that, but it helps because many of his books are about that. Say a terrorist wants a million dollars or he’ll blow up a building. Do you really think it’s okay to just give him the million dollars? Of course not, that’s dumb, you probably don’t even have a million dollars. Would you go into a grocery store and just pay whatever price the store owner names? I didn’t think so.

Wait, what’s that you’re saying? Oh, I see. It’s a two-part thing: We don’t negotiate with terrorists and we don’t give in to terrorists. You’d think that would make more sense, but man, that’s so wrong. Your system would work if everybody did it, but no one would. It’s like waiting in line for a  bathroom. When you see a really long line at a bathroom, do you wait? Of course not, you use another bathroom. Think you’d never be the one who gives in? What if terrorists were going to kill you if you didn’t give them a dollar? Well, what terrorist would ever ask for only a dollar, you say? No terrorist, that’s why you negotiate, idiot.

But by negotiating with terrorists, we license other terrorists, right? First of all, you can’t mean a literal licensing system because anonymity is often tantamount to the personal safety of a terrorist. Who would go and get that license? There would have to be some kind of ridiculous incentive for it, which presumably would be that if you have a license you can commit terrorism, so maybe it would work. But not if it’s at the DMV, because what terrorist is going to wait around for that? It’s like, can we hurry it up here? I have to be in New York at 8:46. But I think you’re trying to say that negotiating gives rise to other terrorists. Well that’s fine, but I’m not convinced that this is a bad thing. Most terrorists do it for money, and by expanding terrorism, we create jobs in the global economy. Terrorist jobs, yes, but still jobs. What better way to redistribute wealth? Okay, obviously splitting it up evenly among everyone is a better way, but like that’s ever going to happen.

Here’s my other problem with the argument I’m making for you. Refusing to negotiate with terrorists only seems like the best deterrent because we’ve voluntarily disallowed other deterrents. Ever heard of counterterrorism? It’s like fighting fire with fire, only with religion too. Basically you terrorize the guy who’s terrorizing you–bet he didn’t think of that one, haha. You got Islamic extremists? We got Christian extremists. You guys murder us and blow yourself up in the process? Big deal, we’ll murder you and forgive ourselves, so we can murder you again later. Double murder, nice. Now sure, we say that cruel and unusual punishments aren’t cool, but WE said that, not the terrorists—those guys are all about cruel and unusual. You don’t hear them complaining. Plus technically we’re allowed to have cruel punishments as long as they aren’t unusual, and vice-versa. So whatever the terrorists threaten to do, that’s what we do to them if we ever catch them. Then less people would be terrorists because it’s better to risk jail than all that horrible stuff. Or maybe terrorists would tone it down a little to protect themselves if they were caught, like get your troops out of our holy land or we’ll capture some journalists and make them do community service. Sure, there would still be some terrorists, but instead of worrying about whether or not people will negotiate with them, they just have to worry about getting caught, like regular old criminals.

Now that’s what I call a bargain.

Join me next time as I reinvent another wheel, but make it better somehow. Maybe it rolls more? I don’t know, I need some time to think.

Is there something you want Jake to take back to the drawing board? Send your questions/ideas  to!

One response to this post.

  1. […] quickly volunteered a few national secrets (don’t worry–not our national secrets…stupid terrorists.) But enough already. Let’s leave the revising of events to the column […]


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