As a world leader, would you "negotiate with a terrorist?"

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by kavika411, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. kavika411 macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Location:
    Alabama
    #1
    If this has been specifically asked and discussed, please feel free to shut down this thread.

    I am interested in what other people think about this topic. Of course, legions of threads can be devoted to defining "terrorist." For purposes of this thread - if anyone is interested in discussing it - I suggest keeping it simple and say that "terrorist" denotes anyone you think qualifies. Do you think Eric Rudolph is/was a terrorist? Fine. Do you think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is/was a terrorist? Fine. Do you think Hamas is/was a terrorist organization? Fine. Do you think George Bush is/was a terrorist? Fine.

    The point - or at least the point I think is interesting to debate - is would you, as a major world leader, negotiate with a terrorist or terrorist group? Would you "recognize" the person or group? Do you think there is nothing to lose by picking up the phone to talk, or sitting face to face, with a terrorist? Do you think there is everything to lose by doing so? Are you in the middle; if so, which way do you lean?

    I have always answered, "Hell no. Never negotiate with terrorists." Now, I find myself asking whether that position is realistic, or even logistically possible.

    Just curious what others think. Thanks.
     
  2. t0mat0 macrumors 603

    t0mat0

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Home
    #2
    It's called calling other world leaders. It's one of the first phone calls you make when you become a world leader.
     
  3. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
  4. kavika411 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Location:
    Alabama
    #4
    Is it? I don't ask rhetorically. I am interested in what you mean.
     
  5. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #5
    It depends on what type of terrorist. If you're referring to the likes of Osama bin Laden then no. They hold no office and are only interested in advancing their agenda through violence.

    However groups like Hamas or Fatah who may engage in terrorist acts yet still retain some responsibility to a civilian population need to be negotiated with.

    I agree with what President Obama is doing right now by sending a special envoy to Egypt, then Palestine and Israel.
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    ^^ I think any such "clear" line of demarcation between terrorist and non-terrorist entities is very difficult to make, as well as between "good" terroriests and "bad" terrorists, between "terrorists" and "freedom fighters," and so on. I don't personally respect that these distinctions carry much meaning.

    I would negotiate inasmuch as the data continues to say the negotiation works. If nothing else, there is always then negotiate / sucker punch approach. ;)

    The LTTE is a good, timely example (as two men were just charged in the US with abetting them). Do they commit acts of terrorism? Under most definitions, yes. Are they readily differentiable from secessionist freedom fighters like the ones who fought and won the American Revolutionary War? I don't think there's great evidence for this. But put that all aside and ask... Just in the last 25 years that have been considered "formally" as the Sri Lankan Civil War... 25 years in which the government has prosecuted a war on its own people... what body of evidence suggests that just supporting the Sinhalese government is likely at all to produce a lasting state of peace that does not involve systematic mistreatment or annihilation of Sri Lankan Tamils? How is there any reason to believe that not negotiating with the "terrorists" on the LTTE side will lead to a reasonable conclusion of this disaster?
     
  7. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    Joined:
    May 7, 2004
    Location:
    Sod off
    #7
    Yes.

    If all we do is fight, we will lose. Terrorism exists because people have discovered that there are ways of beating a numerically/technologically superior enemy. We need to match our force with success at the negotiation table, or all our power won't do us any good in the long run.
     
  8. Anuba macrumors 68040

    Anuba

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    #8
    It's really complicated.

    On one hand -- if your primary goal is to end hostilities and save as many lives as possible, yeah, swallow your pride and negotiate. Especially if you've tried the "other" method for 50 or so years (see Israel vs. Palestine) and it hasn't produced any advancements whatsoever. In the end, peace and prosperity is what everyone is after.

    On the other hand -- know your opponent's culture and codes. Never assume that they think like you do. We all laughed at Comical Ali, a.k.a. Baghdad Bob, and his outrageous claims along the lines of "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" and "we have them surrounded in their tanks", but we laugh because of what lies and disinformation represents in our culture. In their culture, the rhetoric itself is more important than the actual truth. If Comical Ali says he has a million fighter planes, then that's what counts. That there are actually zero planes matters less. They somehow exist anyway. I could go on about what the sole of a shoe represents in the Arab world, or what they think about dogs, or how in clan-based social structures the individual is so unimportant that it's OK to kill your child much like you cut off a bad branch from a tree, or how they yearned for American-style democracy like they yearned for a hole in the head, but you get the idea. So, given how incomprehensible this kind of warped thinking is to a western mind, how do we know how an initiative for peaceful negotiations perceived? Is it understood correctly, or taken as a token of unconditional surrender, or is it code for "I want to marry your uncle?"
     
  9. No1451 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    #9
    Its a hard line to draw, as stated above its depends really on the situation. However if a country I was a leader of came under terrorist attacks(assuming that it is unprovoked) I would do my best to crush it without mercy. I would not negotiate or try to understand their thinking, I believe that a leader has the duty to protect the people they represent and to do anything else is betrayal of your duty to the people.

    Of course this doesn't always work as a situation is never clear-cut or easy to judge.

    Sadly this is a world awash in shades of grey.
     
  10. Burnsey macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #10
    It depends on my own definition of terrorist, and the significance of who I'm to negotiate with. For example, I do not believe ahmadenejad or the Iranians are terrorists, and wouldn't hesitate to negotiate with them to see what's really bothering them. I do not believe Hamas is a terrorist organization, but rather a disadvantaged resistance force to another more powerful occupying force, and I wouldn't mind talking with them to see what it is they really want. However if I were to see Osama Bin Laden, I'd be too busy punching him in the face numerous times to negotiate.

    One has to see if the motives of those defined as terrorists are more than just killing for personal wealth or religious advancement, and if so then negotiation is the only way. For example, the reasons why Osama and his cronies shout death to America are different than the reasons why the Iranians do it. Osama may want us dead because we do not conform to his radical and extreme ideology, while the Iranians hate us because of our decades of meddling in their political affairs has left their country years behind and killed over half a million of their citizens. One is illegitimate (osama) and the other is legitimate. The Legitimate one would require negotiation, because any other way would be throwing salt in the wounds we created.
     
  11. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #11
    The phrase "we don't negotiate with terrorists" was always more useful as a movie trope than an actual policy. In reality, a nation should always be ready to meet and communicate with other nations and entities. Sometimes these relationships may need to be made in secret, but nonetheless, being able to communicate is an important principle in state-craft.
     
  12. srl7741 macrumors 68020

    srl7741

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Location:
    In my world
    #12
    Negotiate means to try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.

    To answer your question, "No" I would never reach an agreement with a Terrorist. They have noting to offer nor am I willing to compromise with a Terrorist. If you compromise your enabling them. I could never support anything they represent.
     
  13. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #13
    Its called diplomacy, and its about damn time we use it.:mad:
     
  14. kavika411 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2006
    Location:
    Alabama
    #14
    I will ask you, respectfully, the same question I asked t0mat0 above:

    Is it?

    To be specific, is it diplomacy to negotiate with a terrorist? And as I said to t0mat0 above, I don't ask rhetorically; I am interested in what you mean.
     
  15. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2003
    Location:
    the faraway towns
    #15
    Please explain how compromise "enables" terrorism. Is there an example of hard-liners who have succeeded against "terrorism?"
     
  16. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hartford, CT
    #16
    I think continuing the act of shutting out and not even attempting a dialouge with people who are unfriendly to us is just about the stupidest thing you can do. At least TRYING is better than being stubborn and not trying to get at the root of the problem.

    Yes I realize that many real terrorists wouldnt allow negotiations to take place, but I cannot be proud of an administration that doesn't take every peaceful opportunity it can in resolving an issue. If talks break down, thats fine, at least we tried.
     
  17. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #17
    Although I am certainly no expert on the subject, I believe that there have only been two successfully employed strategies on dealing with "terrorists".

    The first strategy involves the eventual absorption of the terrorists into a legitimate political order. The situation with the IRA is a prime example of this. Obviously, negotiation was required. As was a certain amount of patience and restraint as well as some ideological/ethical compromise. It also requires a respect for the rule of law and disciplined forces/institutions and public.

    The other strategy is machiavellian. You must be willing to be cruel, if the situation requires it - to safeguard the interests of your people and system. If there is no choice other than to inflict cruelty - do so unexpectedly and suddenly. Your strike should be as hard as possible. In this case, it is better to kil too many than too few. Your objective is not indiscriminate killing per se, but a demonstration of sheer ruthlessness and a willingness to go to any lengths to achieve your objective. It is winning hearts and minds by another method.

    Assad used this approach in Hama in the early 80s against the Moslem Brotherhood. He surrounded the entire city and razed it to the ground. He killed tens of thousands - women and children included. He nevertheless broke the terrorists military capacity and sapped their will to fight by his sheer visciousness. No negotiation is involved.

    Now, considering the type of country the US is (or tries to be) - we only really have the first option open to us. The second is not well-suited to a liberal democracy with an inquisitive media.

    So negotiation it is.
     
  18. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #18
    The phrase "We don't negotiate with terrorists" was coined specifically with hijacks and the ensuing political and ransom demands in mind, in other words, during an ongoing confrontation. It has somehow been extended now to include not listening to people who do not agree. Exploring common ground between such incidents with any opposition is always a positive thing. It has been all to easy for some regimes to simply classify anyone they did not want to talk to as "terrorists" and avoid the issue.

    War is never a good option.
     
  19. és: macrumors 6502a

    és:

    #19
    If you start calling people terrorists then nobody would be talking to anybody. Israel is a terrorist state. The USA has been heavily involved in terrorism around the world. Iran has links with terrorism. Hamas uses terrorism as a way out of their situation. If everybody stopped talking with terrorist nations then nobody would be talking.

    You need to separate governments and countries with splinter groups that are hell bent on killing people. Should America negotiate with Iran? Of course. Should America negotiate with Al-Qaeda when they demand certain things or threaten violence? Of course not.

    'The best way for America to stop terrorism is for them to start taking part in it' - Chomsky.
     
  20. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #20
    might be more meaningful, besides being what he actually said...
    :)
     
  21. és: macrumors 6502a

    és:

    #21
    Ooops.

    I screwed that one up. I typed that in as a place holder (and stupidly put 'start' without noticing) with the intention of checking the actual quote - which is how I normally do it. Then posted without a thought :D

    The quote I wanted to use was 'Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.' - I have got the audi of him saying it, I'll check it at some point.
     
  22. glocke12 macrumors 6502a

    glocke12

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    #22
    This is a diffucult question. As other posters have pointed out I think you really need to differentiate between a legitimate state that is a sponsor of terrorism, a political party (such as hamas and fatah) that uses terrorism to achieve its goals, and individuals or groups that use terrorism as a tool to spread their message or achieve a goal. Id say that at the state and political party level the best approach would be to say "we will work with you but you need to renounce terrorism/violence", or something to that affect...

    At the individual level or group level I don't think it is quite so cut and dry. For one thing by negotiating you run the risk of being an enabler and encouraging them to continue their activities...case in point are the somali pirates...ransom after ransom if being paid to them which only encourages them to hijack more ships.

    On the other hand, if you adopt a policy of no negotiation period, than you run the risk of that policy having an adverse affect on innocent people.
     
  23. és: macrumors 6502a

    és:

    #23
    In that case nobody would talk to the US and Britain. State terror, like that of Israel, America and Great Britain, is much worse than individuals or rogue organizations.
     
  24. SmartIndianKid macrumors regular

    SmartIndianKid

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #24
    I have to agree with Burnsey. You're really doing your people a disservice if you refuse to engage in diplomatic relations with a certain nation, just because you disagree with their ideology. You gain nothing but a false sense of arbitrary superiority by refusing to "negotiate with terrorists." Sit down, talk to Iran, talk to Hamas, and you'll benefit more than you would have by just ignoring them.
     
  25. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Sunny, Southern California
    #25
    Maybe we should define a terrorist. Are we talking about a nation that backs and supports or are we talking about the 5 guys who hijack a plane? Would you treat each one the same or would you treat them different?
     

Share This Page