New Hostage Policy Could Reduce Focus on Hostages

Posted June 26, 2015 at 5:00am

Noah Feldman writes that the Obama administration’s “adoption of the new, more humane policy” on hostage negotiations is also “occasion to remind ourselves of the social costs of too much public handwringing over the fate of American hostages.”  

“The example to avoid is Israel, where the return of a single soldier taken by Hamas, Gilad Shalit, became a national obsession. Shalit was ultimately returned to Israel in exchange for a stunning 1,027 prisoners in Israeli custody… That’s why President Barack Obama was also wise not to appoint a prominent hostage czar to become the public face of family coordination and negotiation. Such an appointment would’ve drawn too much attention to future hostage situations.”  

“The right way to deal with hostages is low-key — away from the headlines. The government shouldn’t block families from negotiating. But our media culture also shouldn’t make the families into national figures with outsize political pull.”