Dealing with Terrorism – Stick or Carrot?

Dealing with Terrorism – Stick or Carrot?

Bruno S. Frey

Emphasising a positive approach to dealing with terrorism (the carrot), this book provides a critique of deterrence policy (the stick) which can be ineffective and even counterproductive, and proposes three alternative and effective anti-terrorist policies: Decentralisation reduces vulnerability to terrorist attacks. A system with many different centres is more stable due to its diversity, enabling one part to substitute for another; Positive incentives can be offered to actual and prospective terrorists not to engage in violent acts. Incentives include: reintegrating terrorists into society, welcoming repentents and offering them valued opportunities; and Diverting attention by naming several terrorist groups potentially responsible for a particular terrorist act. The government thus supplies more information than the terrorist responsible would wish.

Introduction

Bruno S. Frey

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, politics and public policy, international relations, terrorism and security

Extract

: The Failure of Deterrence and the Prospects of Positive Anti-terrorist Policies This book provides a critique of deterrence policy; that is, the use of the stick, to fight terrorism. Coercion or negative sanctions are found to have little effect and, in important instances, are even counterproductive. The same holds, on the whole, for economic sanctions imposed on countries supporting terrorists. Using coercion is useful only under very specific conditions. This conclusion stands in stark contrast to the anti-terrorist policy undertaken all over the world. It is therefore important to seriously consider alternative antiterrorist policies going beyond coercion. Such an alternative view is presented here. Most importantly, the book demonstrates that there are viable and effective policies using a positive approach, that is, using carrots, to fight terrorism. Three specific anti-terrorist policies are proposed. POLYCENTRICITY OR DECENTRALISATION REDUCES VULNERABILITY TO TERRORIST ATTACKS A system with many different centres is more stable due to its diversity, enabling one part to substitute for another. When one part of the system is negatively affected, one or several other parts may take over. Polycentricity is effective in reducing risk and uncertainty. This basic insight also applies to terrorism. A target’s vulnerability is lower in a polycentric society than in a centralised society. The more centres of power there are in a country, the less terrorists are able to harm it. In a decentralised system, terrorists do not know where to attack because they are aware that one part...