Terrorists, Television and Reality

In the most culturally important television series of the past decade, "24," the fictional hero, Jack Bauer, relentlessly pursues, captures, tortures and kills terrorists, routinely saving the day at the last moment.

Virtually unnoticed is that he often negotiates with terrorists as well, cutting deals to serve a greater good.

And yet no one ever accuses Jack Bauer of appeasement. Is this because his credibility as an unwavering foe of terrorism has been so well-established that no one can ever question his motives? Or is it because he is so clearly repulsed by having to cut such deals that no one can ever question his moral compass? Or is it because these squalid deals always pay off in leading Bauer to those up the command chain most responsible for acts of terror?

In the real world, few governments can ever have the assurance that terrorists will, in fact, deal honestly and straightforwardly -- and then keep their word. And even fewer governments have the negotiating leverage Bauer has in these instances, where he can torture (or even kill) his victim or send him away to life in prison.

Mitchell Reiss, is the author of the forthcoming Open Road E-Riginal ebook, "Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists" which is available on September 9. For more information, click here.

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