Talk to terrorists

Thanassis Cambanis writes:

Ronald Reagan framed the debate over whether to talk to terrorists in terms that still dominate the debate today. “America will never make concessions to terrorists. To do so would only invite more terrorism,” Reagan said in 1985. “Once we head down that path there would be no end to it, no end to the suffering of innocent people, no end to the bloody ransom all civilized nations must pay.”

America, officially at least, doesn’t negotiate with terrorists: a blanket ban driven by moral outrage and enshrined in United States policy. Most government officials are prohibited from meeting with members of groups on the State Department’s foreign terrorist organization list. Intelligence operatives are discouraged from direct contact with terrorists, even for the purpose of gathering information.

President Clinton was roundly attacked when diplomats met with the Taliban in the 1990s. President George W. Bush was accused of appeasement when his administration approached Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Enraged detractors invoked Munich and ridiculed presidential candidate Barack Obama when he said he would meet Iran and other American adversaries “without preconditions.” The only proper time to talk to terrorists is after they’ve been destroyed, this thinking goes; any retreat from the maximalist position will cost America dearly.

Now, however, an increasingly assertive group of “engagement hawks” — a group of professional diplomats, military officers, and academics — is arguing that a mindless, macho refusal to engage might be causing as much harm as terrorism itself. Brushing off dialogue with killers might look tough, they say, but it is dangerously naive, and betrays an alarming ignorance of how, historically, intractable conflicts have actually been resolved. And today, after a decade of war against stateless terrorists that has claimed thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of foreign lives, and cost trillions of dollars, it’s all the more important that we choose the most effective methods over the ones that play on easy emotions.

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4 thoughts on “Talk to terrorists

  1. mutt

    The same time Reagan was claiming “we dot negotiate with terrorists” he was supplyig the Iranians with still unknown quantities of weapons, the Iraqis the same- including the components of poison gas- and funding Nicaraguan torturers and El Salvadoren death squads.
    Not pointing that out misses the point entirely: what the US SAYS is meaningless.

  2. Norman

    Seems quite clear to me, that the U.S. has more fingers into just about every countries business than is necessary. Add to that mix, all the so called members of the Think tanks, Foreign Government lobbyists/representatives in the U.S.Government, all bending ears of some member of the State Department, or directly to Security? heads, each with their own private agenda, calls for the U.S. to get out of the business. Leave all those countries, retreat to the borders of the U.S., quit the adventurism that is destroying the very heart of the country. The sad part, is not being exposed for being a Super Power with it’s nose up every nook & cranny in the known World, but the continuing embarrassment to both the American citizens as a whole and the peoples of what ever country it is that the fools on the hill deem important enough to meddle in their affairs. It never ceases to amaze, just how ignorant this country has been since WWII in it’s adventurism, how much treasure is spent & lost, both $$$$$’s & human kind, because of the ego of a mad man in the Congress or White House. There is no question now, that the end is in sight, just how long or in the now case, how quickly it comes!

  3. Ian Arbuckle

    If they talked to Hamas they would be talking to the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Of course it is far easier getting apparent agreement from hand picked puppets like Abbas who despite having absolutely no valid mandate is given undue credence by the MSM for being on the coattails of the Israeli Zionist colonial regime and the American imperialists (which of them is the March Hare?). The queen of Hearts (Clinton) and her administration, even Obama, (the cat that disappears from his tail leaving only a grin) have no interest in reality other than the one they believe that they “create”, and the furthest thing from their pursuit is “peace” or a resolution to the conflict which provides justice for the Palestinian people. For them they just don’t count.

    Are these delusional elitist sociopaths in governments sitting on mushrooms or eating them? Where do they find them and who needs them? (May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright, “we think the price is worth it.”)

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