Communication At Waco Essay, Research Paper
The standoff between the combined forces of the FBI and ATF and David Koresh-Branch Davidian was viewed as the worse governmental operation in history. There were several reasons why Waco turned out the way it did. Koresh and 76 of his followers, including more than 20 children, died in flames because there were breakdowns in communication between FBI and the Branch Davidians as the event unfolds.
First, there was a lack of competency in communication during the negotiation period between the FBI and David Koresh-Branch Davidians. The two sides did not come to an understanding because each side wanted different results. For example, FBI wanted Koresh and the Branch Davidians to come out of the compound and surrender while Koresh wanted the feds to leave the compound. In addition, the tactics that the FBI used were aggressive. When the FBI knocked on the front door of the compound, they asked Koresh to come out. However, the relational aspect of their request made Koresh nervous and scared. Koresh perceived the FBI as forceful while the FBI perceived Koresh was resisting arrest when Koresh gave a nasty look and closed the front door. Since the FBI presented themselve to be aggressive, Koresh retaliated with the same amount of aggression. Neither side understood what the other side’s message was because their lack of competency in the communication processes. As a result, the conflict began to escalate when the initial shootout occurred.
Second, culture plays another role in the breakdown of communication. While negotiating, the type of language the FBI used was different from Koresh’s language. FBI used technical terms to communicate while Koresh preached his sermons. This makes it very difficult for each side to get the message across to one another. FBI came from a law enforcement culture; therefore, they had to use technical terms while communicating. On the other hand, Koresh’s background was religion. That is why inter-cultural conversations are extremely hard to maintain when one culture’s views are different from the other.
At the height of the standoff, there were tanks and helicopters parading around the Waco compound. Koresh always believed that Armageddon was coming. Since he saw there were tanks and helicopters, his self-fulfilling prophecy came into effect. He told his followers that anyone could leave the compound and save themselve if they wanted to. Since it was a collective culture that Koresh and his followers lived in, no one wanted to abandon their messiah. The conflict escalated to it highest peak. The strategies that the FBI used to handle this situation was effective until the compound caught on fire. They tried to create a win-win situation when they were bargaining with Koresh. They managed to get Koresh to release some women and children by allowing his sermon to be broadcast. Although the FBI had good intentions to save lives, other methods that they used were questionable. If their tactics were not too aggressive before the initial shootout, Koresh would have acted differently. Also, they were impatient when Koresh refused to surrender. They started to ram the walls down with tanks and shot tear gas into the compound. Because of these actions that led to the destruction at Waco, the conflict became a lose-lose situation. The FBI failed to carry out peaceful confrontation while Koresh and his followers lost their lives.