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.

Chapter 1: Terrorism: The Curse of our Times?

Bruno S. Frey

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


TERRORISM TODAY This century began with one of the most devastating terrorist acts ever. On September 11, 2001 two passenger aircraft were hijacked by Islamic al Qaeda terrorists and deliberately crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, leading to their collapse. The same day another hijacked aircraft crashed into the Pentagon and another crashed in Pennsylvania. These attacks cost a considerable number of lives. The overall death toll amounted to approximately 3000 casualties from more than 90 countries around the world. The event attracted huge media attention. Hundreds of millions of TV viewers witnessed the collapse of the two landmark skyscrapers of New York. It triggered an unprecedented step up in the ‘war against terrorism’ under the leadership of the United States, supported by a broad coalition of a large number of countries, including all the major powers. As a result, the Taliban government of Afghanistan supporting al Qaeda was wiped out. One may rightly say that a new stage in the conflict between terrorists and governments has been reached. We are today plagued by many other ongoing terrorist activities. It might be useful to mention some of the best-known examples: ● ● ● ● the Basque ETA (Euzkadi ta Askatasuma), which regularly assassinates politicians and explodes bombs all over Spain; al Qaeda exploded bombs in three train stations in Madrid on March 11, 2004, killing around 200 people; the IRA (Irish Republican Army) which, since 1969, has undertaken terrorist acts in both Ulster and in Britain,...

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