Dershowitz: France Shows ‘Capitulating’ to Terror Does not Work


On Thursday evening’s edition of The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, attorney Alan Dershowitz clashed with the host over claims that France bore some blame for the terror attacks it suffered this week by giving in too readily to terrorists’ demands in the past.

O’Donnell took Dershowitz on for saying, “They reward every terrorist,” objecting to the generalization about French policy. Dershowitz countered: “They have the worst record of any country in Europe on terrorism….Virtually every terrorist who has been convicted and sent to prison in Paris has either gotten out.” He referred O’Donnell to his 2003 book, Why Terrorism Works, for empirical evidence to back up the claim about France’s record.

In the book, Dershowitz argues that the main reason terrorism continues is that it tends to be rewarded, even by the nations that fight it hardest. He cites France as an example of a “capitulating” nation–one that breaks international unity against terrorism by cutting deals with terrorist organizations in the hope that its own citizens will be left alone in the future.

In How Terrorism Works, Dershowitz writes:

Every rational nation knows that the international community would be better off as a whole if no nation were ever to give in to terrorists. But every nation also knows that some nations, seeking short-term advantage, will give in to terrorists….This cynical phenomenon, widely known both to terrorists and to the countries involved, determines–at least in part–the rules of the terrorist game. It would be far more difficult for the terrorists to play their dangerous game if they knew that no country would capitulate. But they know precisely the opposite: they can always count on France, Germany, Italy, and several other countries to place their own short-term parochial interests over those of the international community, especially since the international community has never sought to impose sanctions on those who capitulate to, or even cooperate with, terrorists.

(Original emphasis.)

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak