The executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists offers an argument for the United States and United Kingdom to be less rigid in its policy of refusing to pay militants who have taken journalists hostage, arguing journalists taken hostage have a better chance of survival if they are from nations that do negotiate.
... Joel Simon expertly explains... there is no consensus about how to respond to an ancient practice that has made a terrible resurgence in the post-9/11 era ... Simon... is well suited to explaining this modern phenomenon ... Simon provides a vivid critique of Washington’s official position [on hostage situations]...
Despite having a stake in the safety of journalists, Mr. Simon takes a strategic tack in We Want to Negotiate, a series of profiles and case studies that finds equal fault with shows of vulnerability in France—where the French media regularly show the president greeting each returning French hostage—and an unyielding posture in America, which terrorist recruiters exploit to make U.S. officials seem callous. Mr. Simon’s experience and extensive interviews...have convinced him that governments—the no-concessions purists and the consistent ransom-payers alike—should veil their intentions, buying time to assess each case’s distinct national-security impact and improving the chances that the hostage is treated well by captors ... We Want to Negotiate is a helpful, accessible contribution to a decades-old dilemma. Whether the United States is willing to bend its robust framework, inadequate as it may be, remains an open question.
This readable and well-argued book is essential for ethics, journalism, and international relations collections, and a valuable rubric for assessing hostage policy, whether by governments, individuals, or businesses.