Saturday, May 02, 2009

Aaaaand.....BOOM goes conventional wisdom!

Conventional US foreign policy says we don't negotiate with terrorists. But, as this TIME article points out, conventional wisdom may need to be shown the door. The Obama administration has learned, from its experience from AfPak that the only thing worse than talking to terrorists is not talking to them.

The line that the Bush administration drew in the sand in 2001 is no longer and we currently talk to North Korea, Lebanon (whose government is heavily-laden with Hizbollah) and are studying our options concerning the Taliban. Why has our policy changed? The author states two reasons: 1) Our policy just wasn't working to eradicate or even moderating terrorism and 2) we view groups like Hizbollah and the Taliban as fundamentally different from Al-Qaeda because their goals and ambitions are regionally-based and not globally based. Basically, though we may not agree with their goals, we can deal with it better than we can deal with AQ wanting to send us back to the 7th Century.

The central theme of the article is that we need to talk to Hamas. As the most popular Palestinian party, Hamas may soon be joining forces with Fatah to form a coalition government in the West Bank. This will make it impossible for the US to ignore Hamas. Despite the pummeling that Israel gave Hamas in December and January of this year, the party remains firmly entrenched making it difficult to disband the party. Bottom line: they aren't going anywhere.

So this leaves the US in a predicament. Follow the path of the past and never, ever talk to "terrorists"? Or suck it up and try to work things out. I, for one, hope the latter is the case.

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