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OPINION

Let's Remember, Hostages are Never Commodities

Let's Remember, Hostages are Never Commodities

Hugh Dugan By Friday, 08 March 2024 01:54 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

For over 150 days, Americans are languishing in Hamas dungeons, some dying or dead.
This is a call for all of us to be in solidarity with these martyrs and their emotionally-drained families. March 9 is National Hostage and Wrongful Detention Day.
Let this day alarm each of us that even one day is a black hole eternity for each American held abroad. And we will not stand idly as a country for even one day more.
Congress recently decreed this National Day and unfurled an official flag. The State of the Union address on Thursday included hostage families in the hall.
But these are coping mechanisms, at best. The only remedy is if Americans demand to prioritize the recovery of each captive from anguishing uncertainty, physical agony, spiritual collapse, or worse.
Yes, hostage recovery is the fastest way to end the conflict in Gaza. And it depends on much more than a cease-fire.
It depends upon a different “cease,” one that anti-semites and their feverish acolytes dislike: cease-terrorism.
Hamas is a terrorist entity. It must cease.
It must (1) return the hostages and (2) surrender and disband. Cease-fire follows.
But Hamas, deliberately to the last Palestinian standing, continues to trigger Israel’s military campaign.
Why? The more Israel fights, the more the current narrative scorns Israel and disavows its legitimacy going forward. Hamas and its Iranian overlords want a region free of democratic Israel, giving them the landmass to the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile the wrecking of Gaza and the human-shield-genociding of its inhabitants expedites that power-hungry outcome.
Greater human collateral, whether Palestinian or American, perversely, fuels the victimization narrative Hamas has cultivated to that end.
Human collateral, a cold phrase if ever there was one, has become too common in our calculations. It is bone chilling, particularly to hostage families.
People are not commodities. Hostage-taking must not be routinized as just another factor in pursuing the national interest by bureaucrats.
Each hostage case is its own war, one launched easily by the weak that routinely weakens us. The exchange of a U.S. basketball player for Russia’s notorious “merchant of death” in 2022 is but one example.
Hostage-taking is a declaration of war that requires maximal response from this country. This is International Relations 101 that we slept through during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979. We might need to take that course over again.
What March 9 can do is stun the American people into heightened outrage and action.
And some have done so. Returned hostages founded Hostage Aid Worldwide in 2022 to fight for recovery through innovative research and advocacy.
“American Mother” published last month by Diane Foley shares the moral courage of her son Jim, victim of beheading by ISIS 10 years ago. His alma mater Marquette University now archives and studies his writings of war journalism and his own captivity.
Americans appreciate the U.S. Government’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and related offices in which role I acted 2019-20.
Hostage recovery has been its priority with several, but never enough, notable successes.
Today, it convenes a critical-mass panel of families, policy-makers, and others to improve the odds. And D.C. think tank CSIS houses a new bipartisan commission headed by former
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
A national study center dedicated to hostage-taking as a weapon of war is indicated.
America does not use hostages as weapons of war, and therefore has not mastered the mindset or pressure points of those who do. This includes Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Niger, Rwanda, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Venezuela.
They will continue unless we understand how to make it too expensive for them to do so. Such price discovery may take as much study as does the doctrine of mutually assured
destruction in the field of nuclear warfare.
Hostage families designed the flag for National Hostage and Wrongful Detention Day. Look for it above the White House, State Department and Capitol on March 9; Flag Day June 14, the Fourth of July, and whenever an American returns from captivity.
The date March 9 itself commemorates the birthday of the longest-held hostage Bob Levinson, captive in Iran 13 years never to return home.
His daughter writes recently at CNN: “It is my hope that we will rally together as a country on March 9 to show our support for this amazing new national day of awareness through public and virtual flag displays, social media posts, charitable donations or volunteering, and better awareness of international travel risks.”

Hugh Dugan served as acting special presidential envoy for hostage affairs and senior director for international organization affairs at the national security council after having advised 11 U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations since 1989. He is Founder of The Truce Foundation, inspired by the Olympic TruceRead Hugh Dugan's Reports — More Here.

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HughDugan
For over 150 days, Americans are languishing in Hamas dungeons, some dying or dead.This is a call for all of us to be in solidarity with these martyrs and their emotionally-drained families. March 9 is National Hostage and Wrongful Detention Day.Let this day alarm each of...
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Friday, 08 March 2024 01:54 PM
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