Tuesday, September 5

We do not (at this time) negotiate with terrorists.

Yesterday in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, UN Secretary Kofi Annan announced that Israel and Hezbollah have agreed to accept UN mediation that will allow the two sides to work out a deal for the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in a cross-border raid on July 12. 34 days of intense fighting followed in which both Lebanon and northern Israel suffered heavy casualties and billions of dollars in damage to property and infrastructure.

While Israel isn’t saying much about the upcoming talks, their willingness to agree to mediation demonstrates the emptiness and futility of the “We do not negotiate with terrorists” dogma, so often espoused by both Israel and the United States. In the end, when casualties are heavy enough and warring parties weary enough, negotiating with terrorists suddenly becomes a viable solution.

Perhaps Israel was worn down by the fighting. Or perhaps they realized that attaching the terrorist label to their enemies while deliberately targeting civilian areas in Lebanon was causing a public relations problem. Perhaps Israel realized that in war, we all become terrorists, and deligitimizing and dehumanizing one’s enemies serves only to prolong the conflict.

There is perhaps a valuable lesson here for the United States. Had Israel negotiated earlier, as they are willing to do now, they could have spared themselves and the civilian population of Lebanon much suffering and agony. However, by all appearances, we are not ready to relinquish our “We do not negotiate with terrorists” dogma. As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we do not yet see the emptiness of such posturing. Perhaps that’s because most of the casualties in the War on Terror have been endured by the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan (and Guantanamo). In spite of the fact that support for the Iraq war continues to dwindle, it seems that the threshold of war-weariness necessary to abandon our refusal to negotiate with our enemies has not yet been reached.

It took Hezbollah rockets falling on Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, and reaching as far south as Hadera in central Israel, and the displacement of 300,000 Israeli civilians for Israeli leaders to suspend (at least temporarily) their previous adherence to the “We do not negotiate with terrorists” model.

What is it going to take for the United States to do the same? We will get there eventually. The only questions are how long the journey will take and how many will die along the way.

3 Comments:

Blogger castor said...

You are so right: "... in war, we all become terrorists ..."

And there is another fact: That what is classified as "terrorism" by the one part is regarded as "struggle for freedom" by the other part ...

But the third fact is axiomatic too: Vae victis, woe to the defeated ...

4:58 AM  
Anonymous greg said...

The casualties of 9/11 were in the United States and are reaching far beyond the 6,000 people that were killed as we are beginning to find out.

The US was attacked on 9/11. They were not the agressor. This is a fact. Would anyone else react any differently?

This does not excuse our involvement in Iraq at all or that the president has tied that conflict to the War on Terror. This is a poor attempt at trying to create a legacy.

I wonder if the United Nations would approve of negotiating with Bin Laden; or, even more, the families and loved ones of all the caualties, both dead and alive, of 9/11?

What is that old saying, "Until you walk in my shoes......"

10:06 AM  
Blogger Marcelo Daniel said...

So true.
And Hezbollah may give up its stupid and stubborn policy of not dealing with Israel. It should go a step further and recognize Israel and its right to exist. Like it or not, the country called Israel exists. It's real. It has been for 60 years. Can't they get used to it? I am strongly against Israel's foreign and domestic policies towards Arabs, but Israelis will never listen or budge an inch for countries and groups who won't even recognize its existence.
Intrestingly, I believe the the EU does not consider Hezbollah a terrorist group. As far as I know, most targets of their actions are military. This makes them acts of war, not terrorism.

10:34 AM  

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