Since kidnapping 23 Korean Christian missionaries, mostly young women, in Afghanistan 12 days ago, the Taleban has killed two of the men and are threatening to kill the rest if they are not traded for Taleban prisoners. SeeDubya at JunkYardBlog writes: “I don’t know what is to be done to save these people if we don’t know where the Taliban is keeping them.”
I can think of one thing that might work. The Korean government should offer a different sort of trade. They should immediately send 200 of their best soldiers (commandos, paratroopers, or marines) to Afghanistan to help the allies hunt down the Taleban kidnappers and killers. At the same time, the prime minister of Korea, preferably backed by opposition leaders, should publicly announce that for every hostage killed, he will send another 100 troops, that the ratio of soldiers sent to captives killed will increase if the surviving hostages are not released very soon, and that the soldiers will stay until every Talebani involved in the kidnappings and murders is either dead or in Guantánamo.
The Taleban would then have to weigh the propaganda benefits of killing 21 more Christians against the damage likely to be done by 2300 or more highly-motivated Korean soldiers. Since killing hostages is not an unalloyed benefit, the balance should be clear. Whether the Taleban are rational enough to realize that is a good question. Korea has quite a large army, so taking even more hostages would not necessarily help: even sending 3,000 or 4,000 troops would only marginally weaken Korea’s defences against Kim Jong Il’s slave army.