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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 8: Comparing Anti-Terrorist Policies

Bruno S. Frey


MANY OPTIONS This book is devoted to suggesting positive options for dealing with terrorism. Such options have been neglected in the theoretical discourse on terrorism, as well as in the practical policies applied against terrorism. In contrast, the negative options of threatening and punishing terrorists have been at the centre of academic discussion, and even more at the centre of anti-terrorist policy. It often seems as if deterrence policy is a hard-wired knee-jerk reaction to terrorism, while other, more novel approaches receive only cursory attention. The positive approach proposed here is based on modern economics; it first seeks to understand why and how terrorists act. It looks at terrorists’ preferences and constraints. Based on this incentive, structured anti-terrorist policies are deduced, promising to be both effective and advisable. In view of the extensive scholarly work on terrorism, there is no need to repeat many aspects of the phenomena that appear. Thus, for example, technological aspects of terrorism, ranging from weapons of mass destruction, to cyber and internet terrorism, were only considered in so far as they directly relate to the policies discussed. The same applies to psychological operations on the one hand, and military operations (including executing adversaries) on the other hand. The fact that these aspects are not discussed in this book does not mean that they are unimportant, but rather that they have been ably dealt with elsewhere. A particularly important aspect of terrorism relates to the international coordination of the fight against terrorism. Since the American...

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