Lots of analysis out there today on the killing of journalist James Foley. The New York Times examines the policy of not paying ransoms to terrorists:
There is no simple answer on whether to submit to terrorist extortion. The United States and Britain refuse to pay ransoms, and there is evidence that hostage takers target victims based on the potential for a payout. If everyone refused to pay, terrorists might not have had the incentive to turn kidnapping into an industry. At a Group of 8 summit meeting last year, Western countries agreed not to make ransom payments, but some European governments continue the practice.The Los Angeles Times agrees that denying ransoms is the correct policy:
In the meantime, we can honor the many brave journalists, aid workers and civil servants who risk their lives in conflict zones, and grieve for Mr. Foley and the many others who have lost their freedom or their lives.
Critics want to know how the U.S. can justify turning its back on an American in trouble, and why it won't simply pay terrorist groups to release hostages the way some European governments apparently do on a regular basis.What do you think of the issue?
It's a good question. But in the end, the U.S. policy is the right one. […] While it's impossible to determine whether European ransom payers have exacerbated the kidnapping problem, it stands to reason that if hostage takers regularly get the money they demand, they'll only be inclined to repeat the exercise. The New York Times reported last month that European ransoms have fed at least $125 million to Al Qaeda offshoots since 2008, and that money now forms most of Al Qaeda's operating budget.
Standing on principle even though it could cost lives in the short term requires policymakers to make a gut-wrenching, morally difficult choice. Still, the European nations are wrong to let themselves be coerced into paying ransoms. The greater good is served by the Obama administration's adherence to a no-ransom policy.
Much more on this and the day's other top stories below the fold.
The Denver Post editorial board also chimes in and says that ransoms should not be paid:
It seems the deranged terrorists who executed an American journalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq first viewed him as a revenue source.Switching topics, David Firestone analyzes how Mitch McMconnell would rule the Senate -- and it isn't pretty:
Long before beheading James Foley, they had demanded a ransom of more than $100 million in exchange for his release.
The U.S. declined. And however wrenching that decision may have been, it was the right call.
This country cannot put itself in the position of underwriting those who want to kill us. And the European countries that have been secretly capitulating to similar ransom demands from terror groups must stop.
Senator Mitch McConnell gave the country a glimpse this week of what Republican control of the Senate would look like. If it produces a familiar depression, it’s because we’ve seen what happens when Republican leaders in the House have used the identical tactics, and most people have little interest in seeing Washington return to battle stations. […]Turning to Ferguson, Aaron Blake at The Washington Post takes a look at the city's simmering racial tensions:
No one expected Congress to get much done during Mr. Obama’s final years, but Mr. McConnell apparently intends to escalate the level of confrontation. By promising to resort once again to the use of extortion — and presumably that would extend to raising the debt ceiling — Mr. McConnell demonstrates that his party lacks positive ideas, and is beholden to its most reactionary elements. Many Republican leaders, including Mr. McConnell himself, seemed to have learned how unpopular the shutdown technique was, and had vowed not to use it again. But the party’s base, as best embodied by Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, has become addicted to the very act of confrontation, and wants to engage in showdowns whether or not they are fruitful in political or policy terms.
Police, investigators, the nation and the people of Ferguson, Mo., are still trying to figure out what happened there and why.On a final note, Arianna Huffington shows us the other side of Ferguson, the one that the cameras don't capture:
As for why the situation has become the powder keg that it has, it's worth looking at the state of race relations there. And as it happens, Missouri appeared to be a particularly likely candidate for something like this.
According to numbers crunched by Gallup, Missouri residents last year rated it 49th out of the 50 states when it comes to being a good place for minorities. Only West Virginia ranked lower.
That rallying spirit of coming together went beyond Ferguson. The Wisconsin Hope Lab helped secure college scholarships for the three siblings of Michael Brown. And since the first day of school for Ferguson kids has been moved back several days -- along with the lunches many of them depend on -- Raleigh, North Carolina, teacher Julianna Mendelsohn, in collaboration with a food bank in St. Louis, took to Fundly to raise money to fill in the food gap.
And there were hundreds more expressions of the better angels of our nature, a sample of them captured by our reporters on Twitter: Ferguson residents helping clean up; giving out diapers and children's books; handing out water, cookies and juice; setting up a food station for the protesters; giving the protesters free pizza; helping protesters hit with tear gas; letting strangers stay in their homes; lending a cellphone so someone could call his mother; handing out free lunches to anyone in the community -- including the police; giving free coffee and wifi to members of the press covering the story; and protecting a store from being looted.
It's all part of a larger picture of Ferguson that hasn't been very much in evidence in the media. But for Ferguson committeewoman Patricia Bynes it's not unexpected. "I'm not surprised because I live here, and I know that we have great people here," she told HuffPost. "So during times like this, this is when those people just step up and just fill the need."