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The Hydra Effect – Another Reason Obama is on the Wrong Track

April 21, 2010

Bruce Schneier found an article that explains why Obama’s plan to assassinate an American radical Imam could be counterproductive

Obviously assassinating an American citizen instead of allowing him to have the due process of law is illegal and immoral, but some people suggest that it is necessary to defeat terrorism.  The evidence suggests the exact opposite.

From the article:

So maybe the question to ask is whether Americans should be convinced
of that — whether assassinating terrorists really helps keep us safe.

There’s no way of answering this question with complete confidence,
but it turns out there are some relevant and little-known data. They
were compiled by Jenna Jordan of the University of Chicago, who
published her
findings
last year in the journal Security Studies. She studied 298
attempts, from 1945 through 2004, to weaken or eliminate terrorist
groups through “leadership decapitation” — eliminating people in senior
positions.

Her work suggests that decapitation doesn’t lower the life expectancy
of the decapitated groups — and, if anything, may have the opposite
effect.

Particularly ominous are Jordan’s findings about groups that, like Al
Qaeda and the Taliban, are religious. The chances that a religious
terrorist group will collapse in the wake of a decapitation strategy are
17 percent. Of course, that’s better than zero, but it turns out that
the chances of such a group fading away when there’s no decapitation are
33 percent. In other words, killing leaders of a religious terrorist
group seems to increase the group’s chances of survival from 67
percent to 83 percent.

This is not really a new insight.  Any number of people have noticed that for many terrorist organizations, if you cut off one head, two seem to sprout up in its place.  It’s a testament to Obama’s inexperience in this area that he could make such a mistake.

Of course, no one could have known that THAT would be an issue when he was elected.  Right?

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