Imagine this scenario: a terror attack has just been committed in your country. The police carried out raids on suspected perpetrators. There might be another attack coming, but you have in custody those allegedly responsible for the previous one. What do you do? Do you use torture to elicit information, and possible save lives?
“Detainees were denied access to a lawyer during interrogations, and faced torture and other ill-treatment.” (Amnesty Int’l).
Unlike the US, Jordan is situated in the Middle East. Therefore, the country faces a higher threat of terrorism, especially from groups like Daesh (ISIS). Given this threat, how should Jordan respond?
We now essentially have two players: Jordan, and groups like Daesh. How do you think Daesh would respond to Jordan’s actions?
Airstrikes – Jordan 15, Daesh-10
This is one of the most preferred strategies for Jordan, as it is cost effective, and will inflict heavy losses on ISIS fighters
Police raids – Jordan 15, Daesh -5
This is another preferred strategy for Jordan, as the raid will deal with both the accused terrorists and will elicit intelligence on other terrorists. However, since these terrorist cells in Jordan are decentralized, ISIS won’t suffer as many losses in terms of fighters.
Torture – Jordan -10, Daesh +5
This is Jordan’s least preferred strategy, as it loses the moral high ground and invites future UN investigations into Jordan’s counter-terrorism activities. Furthermore, it gives ISIS material it could use in propaganda.
Execution of terrorists – Jordan 10, Daesh 3
This is Jordan’s second preferred strategy, as it sends a message to ISIS and is cost effective. However, the execution also gives ISIS material it could use for propaganda as well.
Surveillance – Jordan -5, Daesh 3
This is not a preferred strategy for Jordan, as it takes up a lot of resources, and violates the right to privacy of its citizens, giving ISIS material for propaganda.
Dabiq Magazine was the primary source of Daesh propaganda.
Suicide bombing – Jordan -3, Daesh +5
This is Daesh’s second preferred strategy, as it doesn’t take a lot of resources to inflict massive damage. Jordan loses here due to the inevitable civilian deaths.
Execution of prisoners – Jordan -1, Daesh -10
Both players lose in this strategy, with ISIS losing more by giving up any semblance of having morals, therefore not attracting people to their cause. Jordan also loses due to the civilian/military deaths.
Propaganda – Jordan -7, Daesh +10
This is Daesh’s preferred strategy, as it allows for more recruitment, while simultaneously making Jordan look bad.
|Suicide bombing||Executing prisoners||Spreading propaganda|
|Jordan||Airstrikes||12, -5||12, -15||12, 0|
|Execution of terrorists||7, 8||9, -7||7, 13|
|Surveillance||-8, 8||-6, -7||-8, 15|
|Police raids||12, 0||14, -15||12, 5|
|Torture||-13, 5||-11, -5||-12, 15|
This is the game matrix once we combine Jordan’s strategies and Daesh’s response to them. This game actually has a solution or a pure Nash equilibrium: Jordan should conduct police raids, and ISIS should disseminate more propaganda, with the payoff being 12,15. But we want ISIS to suffer the most losses, with Jordan essentially winning. With that in mind, the ideal strategy for defeating ISIS would be for Jordan to conduct police raids and/or airstrikes.
In the context of the game, the solution that should be used in reality means Jordan is always the winner with the larger payoffs, which is a good thing. Airstrikes aren’t perfect, but they do tend to fall in the realm of appropriate action under international law. This means that Jordan isn’t violating human rights with this action, as doing that would give ISIS more material to use in their propaganda.
I propose a policy initiative to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS while still adhering to international standards. 1) Jordan should halt the use of torture in jails run by the Kingdom’s intelligence service, the GID. 2) Jordan should also create new rules of engagement for their air force to minimize civilian casualties. 3) Jordan should overhaul its system for authorizing surveillance on citizens, making sure that the government only spies when it is absolutely necessary and will most likely lead to actionable intelligence. 4) Jordan should create a parliamentary oversight committee to ensure the previous proposals are carried out.