Graeme Wood is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and The New Republic.

NYR DAILY

Ransoms: The Real Cost

American freelance reporter James Foley (left) in Sirte, Libya, September 29, 2011

The Obama administration’s announcement that it is reviewing US hostage policy has brought fresh attention to what Simon Critchley has called “The Case for Paying Ransoms.” But the brutal executions of US and UK hostages should compel us to the opposite conclusion: that ransoms are a terrible idea, and that by contemplating paying them we are risking a kidnapping pandemic.