27
Dec
07

TALKING TO “TERRORISTS” – A GOOD IDEA?

Hello there. My name’s Jo Fidgen, and I’ll be with you for World Have Your Say from 1800 GMT this evening.

Lots going on today. There are the two officials from the UN and the EU who’ve been thrown out of Afghanistan for “talking to the Taleban”. It seems they were having conversations with all sorts of people opposed to the Afghan government to try to calm the situation down. But some government officials didn’t like it.

Then the Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez, has said he’s negotiated the release of three hostages held by the FARC rebel group in Colombia. They could be out in the next day or so.

And Sri Lanka’s war is picking up again. The military says it’s bombed a naval base of the Tamil Tiger separatists. The President says he sees no point in discussing a political settlement until what he calls ‘terrorism’ has been defeated.

Which begs a big question: SHOULD GOVERNMENTS BE TALKING TO GROUPS CONSIDERED TO BE TERRORISTS?

There are some notable success stories. The ANC used to be designated a terrorist organisation. ANC activist Nelson Mandela is now one of the most revered politicians of all time.

Peace came to southern Sudan in 2005 after a long civil war, and the rebel SPLM joined the national government ( – they’ve rejoined today after sorting out some of their differences with Khartoum).

And there’s been progress in Uganda, where the LRA rebels and the government are talking.But what about ETA in Spain? Hamas in Gaza? (There are reports today that European parties are mediating between Hamas and Israel over the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.)

And then, of course, there’s Al Qaeda. Where should the line be drawn? Is jaw-jaw always better than war-war? We’re drawing up a cast list now. Already confirmed is Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble, who helped bring an end to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and became the British province’s first First Minister in the devolved government.We want to hear from you too.

Speak later.

Jo

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23 Responses to “TALKING TO “TERRORISTS” – A GOOD IDEA?”


  1. 1 George
    December 27, 2007 at 13:41

    The definition of “terrorists” is fundamental to your question.

    Insurgents seeking the violent overthrow of a government to put their own in it’s place by revolution/fighting are a different critter.

    Bat Guano nuts terrorists who blow up non combatants are not real insurgents.

    Bin Laden flavored terrorists have to fall in the “Bat Guano Nuts” category.

    It is fruitless to talk with the later category other than to get a GPS coordinate to tidy them up.

  2. 2 ZK
    December 27, 2007 at 14:04

    With today’s dramatic events in Rawalpindi this topic seems very apt.

    But will WHYS be talking about Bhutto at all?

  3. December 27, 2007 at 14:52

    Please define what you mean by terrorists”. Last I knew being threatened with war is pretty terrifying. Knowing that “all options are on the table” against your country is terrifying. Last I knew bullets, tanks, missiles, and grenades are pretty terrifying. Not knowing when the electricity is going to get turned back can be a cause of worry. Dying of dysentery or starvation can inspire intense fear. Knowing that there is no medical help if you should get something as common as a broken bone or a deep cut is terrifying. Approaching a check point of gun toting soldiers that don’t speak your language and don’t understand your culture is terrifying. Knowing that your enemies are being armed and supported is scary. Knowing that they can kill you and your family and tell their supporters that you were al-Qaeda is terrifying.

    Since as far I have heard, our soldiers are not dropping soft puppy dogs and shooting silly string in order to “stop the violence” in Iraq, I am going to need a better definition of what a “terrorist is.”

    Here is how Webster defines the concept

    Terrorist: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.

    Terror: 1: a state of intense fear
    2 a: one that inspires fear: scourge b: a frightening aspect c: a cause of anxiety.

    Lord of Logic
    http://www.logicandpolitics.blogspot.com

  4. 4 Uzondu Esionye
    December 27, 2007 at 15:14

    From what I have just witnessed in Pakistan, we should not be talking to Terrorist at all. They are not talking,but acting. Why should consideration be given to people that are ready to carry out terrible attacks at anytime in such a horrible manner. No taking to TERRORISTS.

  5. 5 Anthony
    December 27, 2007 at 15:41

    I believe taking a diplomatic approach is always good. Let’s say you are able to stop the violence for just a little while, and save just a couple lives. That might be worth the effort. At the very least you would be able to gather information. And in our case (USA) we at least look like we’re trying a non-violent resolution. So whether it’s genuine, or a facade, attempting to talk with terrorists is always good.

  6. 6 Will Rhodes
    December 27, 2007 at 16:22

    I blogged about this days ago – the Taleban want to talk. It is either a tactic for regrouping or it is a real that they wish to be a part of an elected government – the only way to find that out is to talk to them.

  7. 7 Neil McGowan
    December 27, 2007 at 16:32

    The duplicity of Gutless Gordon knows no bounds.

    Having lied that “regime change” was the reason Britain and America attacked (of course it wasn’t – it was to “get Osama bin-Laden”, but they hope we’ve forgotten that particular pack of gutless lies), GG is now busy negotiating behind the back of the Puppet Government to re-establish the original Taleban control that we, errr, fought a war to remove?

    If there was ever a country that was crying-out for regime change to dislodge an unelected regime of madmen… it’s Great Britain under the Brown regime.

  8. 8 steve
    December 27, 2007 at 17:28

    Would the bleeding hearts offer hugs to suicide bombers?

  9. December 27, 2007 at 18:44

    If the world was just so simple. When people grow up they understand that all things are relative and even the seemingly most unrelated actions can und up with unexpected results. You will know your are an adult when you stop blaming the bees for stinging you after you threw a rock at their nest. If you want their honey it will come at the price of a sting from time to time.

    I wouldn’t hug a bee, I just would take all precautions not to let it into my house. I in turn would not try to get into their house.

  10. 10 viola anderson
    December 27, 2007 at 19:07

    You cannot talk to people whose sole aim is to kill you.

  11. December 27, 2007 at 20:21

    If you think that these “terrorist” just woke up one day and said, ” you know I think I want to go kill Americans.” Then you have been sold a lemon. Everybody over smiles and extends one hand while hiding a knife in the other. That includes the political engines and the US alike. Even the western educated Osama bin Laden was once a western educated playboy at one time.

    If you talk to them and hear nothing else then, “we want to kill you.” then you know more then you knew before. However you have to talk to them to hear that. Maybe you can even get a “why” out of them. This would be helpful.

    There really is two options. Talk to them, or keep killing them till you are sure there is no more. the second part has the adverse effect of creating 2 enemies for every one you kill and 4 enemies for every one that really wasn’t your enemy but you didn’t talk to him, so how could you know it.

    lol, in the end neither of you are getting into the great dictator run commune in the sky.

  12. December 27, 2007 at 20:22

    I forgot, there is a really good explination about 7 min in here

  13. 13 Syed Hasan Turab
    December 27, 2007 at 20:24

    A chapter of terrorisam been started from former USSR invasion in Aghanistan with a dreem of Hot Water by way of capturing Pakistani Sea shores. According to groud realities Russian’s can’t plan this huge project with out corrupt & counterfit Indian Democracy. No doubt careless handling of Mr. Bill Clinton is one of the reason too.
    If Pakistan loose the war against Terrorisam so rule of Jungle civilisation will be introduced with tradetional backward Ghandhiism supporters.
    All possible suspects should be noticed, no more Mr.Clinton kind of carelessness. May God bless humanity & Democratic values as Bhutto family is top of the line sufferors.

  14. 14 Chernor Jalloh
    December 27, 2007 at 21:12

    Here in Spain when Prime minister Zapatero called for a dialogue with ETA,those in the opposition were quick to condemn the idears brought in by the prime minister.Then the so-called terrorists groups break up the truce which they offered the Spanish government through their negotiations.And since then there have been a number of assassinations in the country. When it comes to so-called Islamic terrorists,politicians will not be willing to talk to them.All doors of negotiations should be opened for those who are being called rebels or terrorists for the sake of peace. You cannot defeat someone who is determine to achieve his/her objectives by fighting to death.Talking to your enemy is normal.Iam really annoyed on the bold decision taken by President Karzai´s government to expell those two diplomats out from the country.They were there for a simple reason which is bringing peace to the Afghan people by talking to the taleban.Peace is the best solution in any society and without peace there will never be developments.Those people that have taken innocent lives can never replace them.No lines should be drawn to anyone we are all humanbeings and let´s thrive to bring love and harmony in our world through peace and reconcilliations.

  15. 15 Xie_Ming
    December 27, 2007 at 21:27

    There is no general agreement on what “terrorism” is. The motive for the action, the target of the action, the means employed, whether the action is international or indigenous and who does it are all criteria to be considered. Government policy strongly influences the definition of terrorism. Our friends are “legitimate governments” and “freedom fighters”- the others are “dictator/tyrants” and “terrorists”.

    Propaganda, colonialism and drugs are considered terrorism. The 1987 Islamic Summit in Geneva sought to define terrorism as the use of weapons to intimidate the general public. They considered colonialism and the narcotics trade as inhuman acts with a corrupt purpose creating insecurity and thus as forms of terrorism. “Pollution of information” they thought potentially one of the most dangerous forms (http://al-islam.org/al-tawhid/definition-terrorism.htm).

    Aerial bombing is terrorism. Bombs dropped from airplanes often destroy innocent families in their homes, so such “collateral damage” can be thought to be inhuman and terrorist. Those ordering such bombing may claim that the primary objective or intention, in distinction to the act of a terrorist, was not to harm innocents. Such “collateral damage” may be hundreds of times greater than the willful acts of terrorists.

    Some think that state terrorism includes torture, death squads, disappearances and concentration camps. Specious attempts may claim (see the U. S. Code) that states cannot commit terrorism themselves, but can sponsor non-governmental international terrorism. In reality, state sponsored terrorism is usually clandestine, except when the objective is to terrorize the home population.

    Israeli terrorism is mostly state-sponsored. Defined as the threat or use of violence in a systematic way to create fear among a population and thereby influence political action, Israel gives us an example of successful revolutionary terrorism eventually becoming rightist.

    Terrorism often arises when some people become convinced that their cause is just, but that normal political processes seem to offer little hope. (Paradoxically, terrorism has been successful only when used as an arm of a larger political movement). Religious commitment is a great help to the conviction that one’s cause is just, for who would challenge God’s command?

    Of course one should talk WITH them! Would you have them live entirely within their own mental worlds?

  16. 16 Jalloh
    December 28, 2007 at 11:04

    I think that it depends on the kind of “terrorrists” that you might have. If you have terrorists who only think about reconquering their territory which they think is illegally occupied i think that you should consider talking to them and give the peace a chance cause they should do something and u too.But if it’s terrorists whose goal is to blow themselves with other people without any goal but killing then i think that you waste ur time talking to them.
    Jalloh, Conakry,GUINEA

  17. 17 viola anderson
    December 28, 2007 at 16:58

    My understanding of “war”, whether conventional or unconventional is that you talk to the enemy when you capture him or, preferably, when he sues for peace.

  18. 18 Xie_Ming
    December 29, 2007 at 15:20

    The Old Testament has instructions for such matters. However, “war” is the word given to Bush by the Zionist NeoCons. Less than a century ago, we had “anarchists” doing the same things and it was a police matter handled by police methods.

    Jalloh: your thoughts reflect the common sense of probability.

    However, theirs (and even ours) is a World of ideology. Where symbols manipulated in the mind become reality for the believers and are then acted out.
    Dialog with the “other” can do nothing but good, becauses it enlarges the World view and makes it more tolerant.

    Of course, anyone listening to Bush will feel that he is involved in a war of civilizations and thus respond in kind. Thus, I said talk “WITH” instead of the talk “TO” so unfortunately chosen by the WHYS moderator.

  19. 19 George
    December 30, 2007 at 15:05

    War is closing with and destroying the enemy.

    Diplomacy is another tool in the tool kit of nations, just as war is a tool in the kit.

    The State Department does diplomacy.

    The Military does war.

    Part of the success of the “surge” is the General in the field is performing both functions.

    There is a limit to cross over functions.

    The Ben Ladin extremists are outside diplomatic realm of State or Military.

    Rabid dogs are best killed as quickly as possible.

  20. 20 Syed Hasan Turab
    December 30, 2007 at 23:06

    The reason of Pakistani leadership crises is because President Musharaff’s Govt is trying to be a safe guard for USA & EU, on the other hand State sponsidered terrorisam is booming on the shoulder’s of USA & EU.
    No doubt recent expension of Isriel & Corrupt Indian long range Misile plans kind of activities are encouraging Terrorisam.

  21. 21 Luci Smith
    December 31, 2007 at 21:12

    I agree with Cherbnor Jalloh above. Everyone in the world deserves to live in peace. When politicians insist on waging war, one ought to perhaps begin to redefine words like terrorism and terrorist.
    I grew up in Texas and I consider George W. Bush to be one of the stupidest and most opportunist war-mongering leaders I have seen in my lifetime. Living in Denmark, I can see how much even a small number of soldiers who have been sent to “fight terrorism” in Iraq and Afghanistan have affected our small society. We have many Iraqui and Afghan refugees who have had their lives ruined and who problably will never be able to return to the country of their birth.
    The Swedish UN representative, Hans Blix was right! Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. In the meantime, G.W. Bush was able to try out innumerable weapons on Iraq and completely ruined the lives of many survivors, killed off lots of innocent people and also destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq. Now the Americans can rebuild and the corruption is perhaps even greater than when there was an Oil for Food programme.

    Personally, I believe in Talking and Diplomacy. Always!
    We also need world leaders and leaders of countries who have a humanitarian attitude.
    Please talk to anybody, in any language! Any talking which can prevent wars is tops in my book! Personally, I have always believed that you ought not to judge people and their causes beforehand. Will Rodgers, a famous Texan said, “I have never met a man I did not like”. I think that he meant that if you talk to someone and you have a sense of humor, you will always find something to like.
    Our World and our leaders ought to focus on peace and climate change and the disasters that it causes instead of manufacturing weapons and creating wars where they can be launched.
    Please keep talking diplomacy and peace. I am so tired of hypocritical fundamentalist leaders- of all faiths who do not respect other faiths and who are busy creating enemies and calling others terrorists. If you look at who is responsible for starting wars and killling people, who looked the other way when Hurricane Katrine hit and who has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, you might decide that the word terrorist is a strange term. Irresponsible, warmongering leaders are dangerous for our world. That’s why the BBC and Have Your Say is so important! Information and the exchange of talk and opions creates openness and peace. Happy New Year 2008 and I hope that as many people as possible will be able to experience peace this year.

  22. 22 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 03:52

    talking to terrorists is not a very brilliant
    idea!!!!

    Dennis
    Madrid, United States of America


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