Unfounded game-theoretic speculation

David Rohde opines:

Our guards believed the drones were targeting me. United States
officials wanted to kill me, they said, because my death would
eliminate the enormous leverage and credibility they believed a single
American prisoner gave the Haqqanis, the Taliban faction that was
holding us.

Here is the full story and I thank Greg for the pointer.


How do you know it's unfounded?

I'm assuming that Tyler means something like, "What would be gained by killing the US prisoner? If the US government were willing to kill him, then they didn't really value him much and hence the captors had no leverage."

If that is what Tyler means--and commenter rob seems to miss the fact that Tyler's ambiguity makes Hemingway look like Ayn Rand--then I think it's wrong. The people in charge of the US government (in my opinion) don't have the slightest problem killing people, including Western civilians. But it's embarrassing if a group of rebels can keep sending out videos demonstrating the "impotence" of the mighty US military.

I think it was in the movie _Speed_ (or maybe _Die Hard_?) where one of the protagonists says that shooting the hostage solves all the problems.

The Russian government has been doing it (killing civilian hostages) all the time. Beslan 2004. Dubrovka theater 2002 (Nord-Ost).

Exceptions in my comment to BKarn.

The boon for the U.S. Military (or anyone) to save a hostage certainly outweighs the costs of having terrorists distribute propaganda about holding said hostage. Public knowledge of such a hostage would rather be a reason to support a stronger military by those at home. Plus, if the military did consciously kill the hostage, you are asking way too many people to stay tight lipped about such an event. The government constantly has a ridiculous amount of people watching it, including it's own members.

Ever hear the term "inscrutable Orientals"? The fact is, non-Westerners find us as hard to understand as we do them, often harder. The VC were convinced that Hanoi Hilton was a target. We have, and we will, continue to endure outrageous risks by our military personel to avoid enemy civilian causalities, let alone our own. It is part of the Western moral ethic, and those Westerners who propose that this might not be the case gravely insult the men who have and will willingly face death for this cause.

The fact that rogue agents (Waco, Ruby Ridge, Mi Lia) have occasionally violated this ethic has occasioned demonstrations that this is NOT how we operate.

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