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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.
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Chapter 2: Using Deterrence Against Terrorism

Bruno S. Frey


PREDOMINANCE OF COERCIVE ANTI-TERROR POLICY Governments may react to terrorism in two basic ways: 1. Using the ‘stick’: This coercive approach works with using negative sanctions, mostly by employing military and police enforcement. Persons undertaking terrorist acts are severely punished either by killing them or by putting them in prison, possibly after torturing them. This response is based on immediate and strong retribution and addresses the most urgent problems created by a terrorist attack. The response is ‘re-active’ in so far as it is incident-related, dealing with terrorist attacks that have already taken place. Using the ‘carrot’: Actual and potential terrorists are given positive incentives to desist from their violent activities by providing them with superior alternatives, but also by reducing the benefits they derive from terrorist acts. This approach seeks to address the root causes of terrorism. It considers reforms addressing the grievances of the terrorists and is directed at prevention or long-term reform. It is ‘pro-active’, in so far as it identifies newly emerging political conflicts possibly leading to terrorism. 2. The two basic types of approach suggest different policies open to governments and imply different benefits and costs, both to the terrorists and to the governments undertaking the policies. A deterrent response, involving the use of military force, is likely to be accompanied by higher budgetary costs. A policy based on offering terrorists alternatives may seem to be cheap in comparison, but may create political costs to the government, as...

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