The Daily Kos Strategy For Dealing With Terrorists: Talk It Out!

Over at the Daily Kos, Daily Kos diarist gshenaut, thinks we should have a nice, long, conversation with the terrorists, perhaps in a nice cafe, with soft music, tea, and burka clad waitresses:

“Let’s take an extreme example: should the US enter into official negotiations with representatives of al-Qaeda?

I believe that most Americans would reject this, and in fact would become angry that it is even suggested as a possibility. However, I also believe that they would be wrong, that there is no rational reason why the US shouldn’t welcome the opportunity to negotiate with al-Qaeda.

First, this is a fairly low-cost endeavor. A few diplomats, some research people, a secure location, and not much physical risk to the participants. No argument can be made that I’m aware of that negotiating with al-Qaeda would increase the risk of a terrorist attack in the US. If you’re reading this and you disagree, please enlighten me below.
Second, even if all it does is reduce the number of attacks on American assets around the world, since its cost is low, the activity will have been justified.
Third, the potential for there being some kind of treaty between al-Qaeda and the US–for example, a promise of “hands off” in Iraq in exchange for a removal or reduction of US forces in Saudi Arabia–could save many lives and increase stability in many areas. Therefore, the potential benefits of negotiations are huge.

I’m sure that many will say that “to negotiate with terrorists like al-Qaeda legitimizes them”. And yes, that’s true, but is it a bad thing? Is it the only thing that will happen in negotiations? I think not.

First, one of the horrible impediments to peace between Muslims and everyone else is unhumanization–demonization–of each side by the other. To most Americans, al-Qaeda members are barely human, motivated by an abstract hatred for freedom and liberty, dedicated only to death. But there is no doubt that this is exaggerated and wrong. al-Qaeda members are human beings, motivated by the same forces that motivate us all. If negotiations would legitimize and humanize our opponents, it would also reduce this impediment.

…Furthermore, I think that it would be wonderful if Democrats could have a “let’s talk” plank on their platform, but I understand that this could be risky given the considerations I mentioned at the top of this diary.”

Some people, reactionary right wingers no doubt, probably think that’s a bad idea. But, it’s not. After all, didn’t we ultimately end World War 2 by having a nice chat with Hitler and Tojo? Wait, forget that point. Look at it like this: We want them to stop murdering us and they want us to die. So, there has to be some middle ground, right?

PS: You laugh at these idiots now. If a Democrat becomes President in 2008, people who think like gshenaut and Kos will be shaping our foreign policy.

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