Last week, Rand Simberg wrote an interesting little blurb titled Yes, Even When Lives Are At Stake:
In Enterprise last night, I was struck at how sometimes the writers Just Don’t Get It, and make the ship’s crew look like fools. If you didn’t see it, Archer and T’Pal are kidnapped and being held for a ransom of weapons to aid the local rebel cause. The Vulcans show up to the rescue, and inform the crew that “Vulcans do not negotiate for hostages.” Commander (?…what is his rank anyway, I’ve never been able to sort out ranks on ship, other than the Captain, but I haven’t been paying that close attention…) Tucker gets upset and whiny, and asks “Even if lives are at stake?” thus presumably demonstrating the moral superiority of the warm and emotional humans over the coldblooded and logical Vulcans.
Yes, Trip. Especially when lives are at stake. Of course,the writers don’t grant the Vulcans any kind of logical rejoinder–that negotiating for hostages simply ensures future hostage taking, and that sometimes lives have to be risked both on principle and to save the lives of many future hostages (the stance which, by the way, the U.S. government has appropriately taken in the Daniel Pearl case). No, they simply look Vulcan and disgusted. I wonder if the script was written pre- or post-911?
Little did he know how right he was (and before you type it, don’t send me vitriolic letters telling me that pulling policy decisions from Star Trek is childish- if you are inclined to write such a letter, you have missed my (and Rand’s) point COMPLETELY). In today’s NYT, it is revealed that the mastermind behind the Daniel Pearl kidnapping was British born Ahmed Omar Sheikh. The NYT had this to add:
Mr. Sheikh, the son of clothes merchants in East London, attended the London School of Economics. He spent five years in an Indian prison after being arrested in a 1994 kidnapping case that bore strong similarities to that of Mr. Pearl. He was freed into Afghanistan in a 1999 hostage-prisoner swap brought about by the hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet.
Emphasis mine. The moral? You don’t negotiate with terrorists. As Mr. Simberg presciently noted, even when lives are at stake.