Should the US talk to “terrorists”?

Former US President Jimmy Carter is set to meet with senior Hamas officials this week despite strong criticism from his own government. Is he right to do so?

Or are there some people you should never talk to? Is the only way to resolve conflict through communication and dialogue or is President Carter in danger of becoming an apologist for people who many see as terrorists. An aide to the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has talked recently of the possibility of opening channels of communication with al Qaeda. Really?

39 Responses to “Should the US talk to “terrorists”?”

  1. 1 steve
    April 17, 2008 at 15:35

    I kind of think he should speak to Hamas, so he can realize how crazy how how unwilling they are to recognize or make peace with Israel. Hamas recognizing and making peace with Israel, Hamas being an Islamist group, is about as likely for Pork to become kosher, for pigs to fly, and for cartoons about Mohammed to be greeted with cheers by Muslims. It’s simply not going to happen. You have a greater chance of winning the lottery yesterday than Hamas recognizing and making peace with Israel. At least time travel is theoretically possible. Jimmy Carter claims he wants there to be peace, when he realizes how crazy and unwilling to make peace (a truce isn’t peace), maybe he’ll change his mind.

  2. 2 Will Rhodes
    April 17, 2008 at 15:42

    Look at the talks that were going on between Britain and the Irish terrorists – I think it can be seen that those talks led to the ‘peace’ there is now, no matter how tentative.

    One day the IRA my get rid of the weapons cashe they have – then real peace can come about because every side will get rid of their arsenal.

  3. 3 John in Salem
    April 17, 2008 at 15:52

    Talk should always be considered unless it would encourage further terrorism. We need to remember that most groups have turned to violence because their issues have been ignored.

  4. 4 Xie_Ming
    April 17, 2008 at 16:14

    I am rather disgusted by having posts rejected by the message
    “you are posting too fast. slow down”


  5. 5 Will Rhodes
    April 17, 2008 at 16:34

    Xie_Ming – that is a wordpress feature.

  6. 6 VictorK
    April 17, 2008 at 17:04

    @ John: not quite true. The IRA were as pure a terrorist group as you could get. They waged their terror campaign despite the fact that a majority of the people in Northern Ireland supported the Union with Great Britain, and long after the grievances that the Catholic minority had about civil rights and fair treatment had been addressed. The IRA were much like the current crop of ‘Islamist’ terrorists here in Britain: a minority interest seeking to impose its will on a majority who take a different view.

    The British government talked to the IRA because it lacked the will to defeat them or to hand the job over to those (the loyalist paramilitaries) that could have dealt with them. The SAS was perfectly capable of assassinating the IRA leadership; British politician’s couldn’t bring themselves to give the order. Even Mrs Thatcher showed a lack of nerve over Ireland. I understand that she was once shown plans to hand over a slice of Northern Irish territory to the Republic of Ireland. The piece of territory (about a country and a half) was almost entirely populated by several hundred thousand Catholic nationalists, the kind of people who supported the IRA’s political wing, Sinn Fein. The plan would have permanently crippled the IRA as a political force in Northern Ireland, strengthened the Protestant loyalists electorally, and would probably also have benefited the moderate Catholic nationalist parties like the SDLP. Mrs Thatcher’s courage failed her and she rejected the plan. As a result, because she was one of a series of British leaders who could not bring themselves to wage a real war against the IRA, the British government eventually had little choice but to enter into talks with the IRA and to legitimate it by making it a part of the government of Northern Ireland.

    A government that lacks the courage or means to defeat a terrorist threat has no option but to talk to the terrorists in question. The US ought to talk to Al Quaeda and the militias in Iraq because the Coalition is obviously not serious about defeating them. The contrast between an army that boasts of not directing its firepower at mosques, even when those mosques are used to shoot at its soldiers, and an enemy that doesn’t think twice about blowing to smithereens the most ancient and venerable mosques, even when there isn’t any tactical benefit in doing so, is a big hint about which side has the will and determination to win in Iraq.

    There are some terrorists that no government, under any circumstances, can ever talk to, such as the disaffected young men here in Britain. These people are incurably irrational, profoundly ignorant, immature, disorganised, attention seeking, doubtfully sane, largely incompetent, opportunistic and much less political than they are criminal. For a government to stoop to dealing with such people would be to give a green light to every adolescent and adolescent-minded individual with a chip on his shoulder to seek government recognition and instant fame by threatening the public safety. The only response to this kind of petty and amateur terrorism is to call in the police.

    Carter is a fool. He is following Jesse Jackson’s old and irresponsible practice of private citizens operating their own foreign policy in defiance of their own government. Unless such meetings have the imprimatur of the US government they should be treated as treasonable activity. Carter is pro-Palestinian in any case. I don’t think there’s anything that Hamas can say that will shock him back into reality. We know that his preferred policy when faced with a terrorist threat is to do nothing and hope that the terrorists will come to their senses (i.e. appeasement). He single-handedly destroyed America’s prestige and standing in the world during the Iranian hostage crisis. He’s done enough damage.

  7. 7 John in Salem
    April 17, 2008 at 18:52

    I said “most” groups. Think PLO, not IRA. If the U.N. had not simply dismissed the Palestinians in 1948 much of the blood that has been shed in the last 60 years could have been avoided.
    There is a difference between talking to people who are driven by desperation and talking to sociopaths.

  8. 8 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 17, 2008 at 18:54

    Infact two kind of terrorisam is going on:-
    (a) Gurela war without state involvement & recognised official status, just strong public agenda with complete motivation or brain washed.
    (b) State sponsord with official status & recognised forum, without public agenda & motivation or brain wash.
    Under these circumstances in general world is under depration & frustration as none of them is ready to surrender.
    AS far as compromise & dialogue situation is concerned the only solution is to address core issues publicaly upto the entire satisfaction of respective parties & suffering nations. No doubt official recognition of terrorisam & careless about the issues is fundamentally wrong as world dont want to live under terrorisam.
    Disrespectfull behaviour with International resolutions & Laws is buildingup official & unofficial sick terrorist society, being a resident of this Global Village we suppose to follow accepted principals of life or pay the maximum price by way of entering in the mountain’s of Afghinastan.
    Discipline to Isriel & India is more important then Iraq war as International resolution’s about Phalistine & Kashmire are available to act in a civilised manner.

  9. 9 steve
    April 17, 2008 at 19:06


    What do you mean the UN dismissed the palestinians in 1948? It voted to give them the first arab palestinian state in history. The arabs instead attacked Israel, lost, and the arabs took over most of the lands allocated to the palestinian arabs. What did the UN have to do with that other than vote for the partitition, giving the palestinians their first independence ever??? Funny how the UN only calls on Israel to return lands, but did it call on Egypt and Jordan to return the Gaza and WB to the palestinians? Yes, the widely ignored part of history, Egypt occupied Gaza from 1948-1967, and Jordan the West Bank from 1948-1967 and there was no outrage. Funny the double standards.

  10. 10 Jens
    April 17, 2008 at 19:55

    what is wordpress?

    I do get the same messages and i am a little annoyed

  11. 11 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 17, 2008 at 21:16

    Instead of sending two white elephants to resolve the International issues why not we follow the former UN resolutions, as the foundation of Phalistine & Kashmir issues is based on them. I am quite sure unofficial terrorists actions fundamentally based on recognised UN resolutions. Due to constants denial, disobediency with UN buildup a mistrust situation among the member nations & terrorisam appear as an hump in spinalcord of humanity/UNO.
    We have to resolve these issues under UN resolution’s for restoration of public trust in UNO otherwise prevailing blampcy situation will encourage terrorisam & future of UNO will face the consequences of League Of Nations because of Terrorisam.
    Dialogue’s & meeting with a small group of people is not a correct & true reprensation of Phalistanians & Kashmire, infact these two white elephants are ignoring the real essence of public openion, that is sufferings & crime against humanity business been going on in Phalistine & Kashmire, which may be classified as official terrorisam.

  12. 12 Bella Liberty
    April 17, 2008 at 21:39

    Should US talk to the terrorist?
    US talk to the terrorist that would be beneath the dignity of super power which also impossible solution. If US talk to terrorist they will become more powerful than present situation. Especially current famous Presidential candidate Barack Obama is voicing for that talk, but he careless about the meaning of terrorist. The terrorist mean extremist and the grave problems that defy easy solution or that can not be solved by the peaceful Diplomatic mean.
    The President or Presidential candidate who thinking to talk terrorist would be the worst President for the America..

  13. April 17, 2008 at 21:51

    Right off the bat the abuse of the word terrorist comes into play to begin a embedded term of thought. The major governments on Earth don’t see their abuses as terrorism inflicting their controls of power whether it be economical, with armed forces or by control of the freedom of information.

    Rebellion against injustice and outright crimes of a Government, today to expose these thoughts one can easily be labeled a terrorist. But these crimes take place hijacking the truth and exploit the well wishes of the citizen.

    The actual truth comes down to this, we are betrayed by our government. The world handed us through the media is pure mental abuse of our truth and reality. Violence rules the Earth and nothing else forces subservient reaction and forces a populous to be passive.

    Even non-violence and the benediction of truth are here being met with intolerance subject to a censorship of a pre-eminence of mind controlled responses.

    Jimmy Carter,.. etc. who tries to bring peace by negotiations with any faction biased against the abuses of the world, to be demonized is just some of the steps that are employed to hide crimes inflicted by major governments.

  14. 14 Insistent Verite
    April 17, 2008 at 23:57

    It does seem difficult for non-Zionists to post here!

    “Terrorists” is properly put in quotes, for there is no accepted definition of “terrorism”. The definition would make a good topic for WHYS.

    The US Congress has legislated that a state cannot commit “terrorism”.

    Thus, the most notorious practioner of state terrorism, Israel, cannot be “terrorist” according to the US Congress.

    It should be patently obvious to all honest and well-intentioned folk that dialogue may resolve problems when force and confrontation will not.

    Despite the Zionist attempts to smear him, President Carter is a sincere and religious man who acts on his faith.

    His initiative is to be commended, even more than the craven actions of Bush and Israel are to be condemned.

    An important characteristic of HAMAS, one that distinguishes them from their critics, is that they have demonstrated that they will keep their word.

    Since the epithet of “terrorist” is favorite among those who practice state terrorism and assassination,
    perhaps this is a worthy topic for WHYS discussion (if an honest moderator can be found).

  15. 15 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 01:25

    @ Lee Roy sanders:

    There’s no ifs ands or buts, Hamas is a terrorist group. I had three Israeli cousins get blown up in a restaurant by Hamas, which they proudly took responsibility for. It was civilians eating food, with a suicide bomber walking it. The restaurant happened to be also arab owned, so many arabs were killed in Hamas’ attempt to kill Jews. They didn’t care that Muslims were there. They just wanted to kill. If that’s not a terrorist to you, then I don’t know what you would consider to be a terrorist. I suppose you think the Beslan killers are heroes? Going after a school? Come on, don’t let your politics get ahead of morality.

  16. 16 Xie_Ming
    April 18, 2008 at 03:24

    “Terrorists” is properly put in quotes, for there is no accepted definition of “terrorism”. The definition would make a good topic for WHYS.

    The US Congress has legislated that a state cannot commit “terrorism”.

    Thus, the most notorious practioner of state terrorism, Israel, cannot be “terrorist” according to the US Congress.

    It should be patently obvious to all honest and well-intentioned folk that dialogue may resolve problems when force and confrontation will not.

    Despite the Zionist attempts to smear him, President Carter is a sincere and religious man who acts on his faith.

    His initiative is to be commended, even more than the craven actions of Bush and Israel are to be condemned.

    An important characteristic of HAMAS, one that distinguishes them from their critics, is that they have demonstrated that they will keep their word.

    Since the epithet of “terrorist” is favorite among those who practice state terrorism and assassination, perhaps this is a worthy topic for WHYS discussion (if an honest moderator can be found).

  17. 17 Will Rhodes
    April 18, 2008 at 03:46

    Jens – WordPress is the blogging utility you just asked the question on.

    This blog is hosted by wordpress as well as millions others. If you want to start your own blog go to http://www.wordpress.com and you can sign up there – there are free blogs as well as some you can add to with credits bought.

    I use the free one and am not advertising for wordpress – Google it if you wish.

  18. 18 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 18, 2008 at 07:32

    If USA really sincear with peace so begin with root cause of injustice & crime against humanity in Phalistine & Kashmir, as these aspects been ignored & dully supported by US Govt in all International Lobbies with pride. No doubt contaminated US media & High level corruption is one of the root cause of terrorisam too.
    Negociation with terrorist groups will promote illegal culture & sick society. Admision of error is a sign of bravery & previous error’s may be corrected with healthy global public agenda. For real White house need political filtration by way of fixing terms to stay in Congress & Senate.

  19. April 18, 2008 at 12:06

    I have already the view expressed on different occasions that the dream regarding th peace in the middle east can not be fullfiled without HUMMAS

    Hummas is a very important element to the issue and the present stiatuin still beyond the control.

    Why ther were kept far from the the Annapolis negotiation about which remarkable claims were made by the United States president.

    Now the host of Annapolis conference have come back but having seen the heavy last stone which hold the way going to stable solution of longstanding issue.

    Listen carefully,what is being said by the former American president Mr.Carter,he pointed to right direction and set the right destination.

    When you see the previous history you will find Hummas in th eclected government.Palestine people voted them to power.They ruled over the palestine state.In fact they are not terrorist but have populariy among the palestinian people.

    In case, you wante peace in the region shouldn’t ignore them.Past’s experience invite you call them because their participation in the peace process that is essential for stoping further bloodshed of human being.

  20. 20 John LaGrua/New York
    April 18, 2008 at 12:28

    Carter is the only courageous political figure in the US .while the others cower in fear of the Isreali Lobby which is vicious in its attack on any one who does not grovel before them.One man’s terrorist is nother “s frredom fighter .America has sold its soul to that part of the Jewish Community which have placed above their obligations as US citizens.,the interests of Isreal.The US policy in the Mid East has destroyed our moral standing in the world ,corrupted our domestic politics.and is sapping our economy.The Isreali don ‘t want the US to be a serious honest broker but a tool of their own interests.God speed ,President Carter.

  21. 21 john in Germany
    April 18, 2008 at 12:32

    What is the use of talking? If my neighbour fires rockets into my garden the talking bit has gone. Others trying to gain profile will attempt to arrange some way-head programme, or such like, well knowing that the talking bit is over.

    Hammas is terrorist, has no respect for mankind, nor its own followers come to that. It could if wanted stop the terror actions, but why? it is always in the public eye when it fires rockets. But no one wants to listen to its vocal ravings, and take notice of its masked- what ever.

    John in Germsany

  22. 22 Count Iblis
    April 18, 2008 at 14:53

    Talking to Hamas is a good idea because Hamas represents a significant part of the Palestinian people. It doesn’t really matter if they have 30% support or 70% support. What matters is that many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians share the views of Hamas.

    If Israel leaves the West Bank and allows the refugees to return, then that’s good enough for almost all Palestinians to recognize Israel. It then doesn’t matter what extremist Palestinians think. If Hamas keeps on insisting that all of Israel belongs to Palestine, then the Palestinians will not support Hamas anymore.

  23. 23 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 15:13

    John, if you switch Jewish with Muslim or Muslims in your comments, not only would it have not been approved, but you’d be called an islamophobe. Interesting double standards. It’s okay to single out the jews, to make up stuff about them, and blah blah about how they control everything, everyone bows down to them. Sounds so 1930s Germany to me.

  24. 24 Jade
    April 18, 2008 at 15:15

    Interesting. What is “America’s prestige and standing in the world”? How do we talk to people in other countries with this attitude?

  25. 25 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 15:43

    @ Count Iblis:

    If Israel allows the “Refugees” to return, Israel will cease to exist. It’s a non starter, it isn’t going to happen, and you would not insist any other nation commit national suicide too, so don’t ask Israel something that you wouldn’t be willing to do. Hamas does insist that Israel belongs to Palestine, and the Palestinians voted Hamas into power knowing that.

  26. April 18, 2008 at 17:12

    Yes Steve, if the refugees return, Israel will indeed cease to exist — as a nation where Jews are privileged over all others. It does not mean that Jews will cease to exist. They can live as citizens in a secular democracy. That’s the way it’s supposed to be in every other civilized nation.

  27. 27 Neal H
    April 18, 2008 at 17:32

    I support former President Carter speaking with whomever he wishes, he’s a world-class diplomat, don’t underestimate him.

    One of the big ironies of this whole affair is that while the US makes so much fluff and bluster about supporting and nurturing the spread of democracy and elections around the world, Hamas won the election there, and the US is unwilling to accept that result.

    Clearly the US government under Bush supports democratic elections as long as the elections turn out the way that the US wants.

    I don’t like Hamas, but if they won, they won. You either support democratic ideals in actions as well as words, or you stop pretending to be supporting democracy. (This is not an external opinion, I am a US citizen.)

  28. 28 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 17:40

    @ Per

    If you think ka Palestinian state is going to be a secular democracy, then I have beach front property in Arizona to sell you. It will be an islamic theocracy, where non muslims are heavily discriminated against. Don’t expect Israelis to want to live under sharia when you wouldn’t want to either. Israel isn’t going anywhere. It’s time for the Israel haters to accept that the arabs will not destroy israel on the battlefield, and will not destroy israel demographically with this “right of return” for some reason ALWAYS ignores the same amount of jews left Muslim countries by force, but at least Israel didn’t keep jewish refugees in refugee camps like what the palestinians’ “arab brothers” do to them. Some brothers, eh?

  29. 29 steve
    April 18, 2008 at 17:41

    @ Neal H

    The nazis democratically won too. We know how well giving them hugs worked to satisfy limiting their ambitions. “peace in our time!”.

  30. 30 David from Australia
    April 18, 2008 at 17:48

    Dialogue is the medicine that will cure. Force is the poison that will kill.

  31. 31 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 18, 2008 at 20:04

    Infact Isriel is fear from his own wrong doings upto date so do the USA being an unconditional supporter upto 9/11.
    If Muslims want to finish Jewish nation obiously they never mis the chance of Nazi Hitler time, an accomoditing kind hearted friend is paying the price of Sympathic behaviour.
    Phalistanian independance from Isriel isa practical joke with sympathisers & rest of the world. Finally fighting with the stones turn in to 9/11 this sound like last choice & last chance, prevailing situation need to be fixed immediately before the worst for the rest of the world.
    All illegal acts & crime against humanity may not be tolarated by a real peacefull civil society excluding Isriel & his supporters to whome may be classified official terrorist of the world.
    Fighting against injustice, unlawlessness & humanitarian crime’s may not be defined as terrorists, may be defined as freedom fighters & librators. No doubt temporary support group been buildup via media, but ground & fundamental realities may not be changed in Phalistine & Kashmir.
    Prevailing Official & unofficial terrorists are expecting peace, this is our responsibility to support them for good cause.

  32. 32 Papa Hopkins
    April 18, 2008 at 22:43

    Mahatma Gandhi words;

    You must be the change you want to see in the world.

    When the ego dies, the soul awakens. An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

  33. April 19, 2008 at 02:39


    At one time Israel promoted Hamas as a rival to the PLO, which was a secular organization. In a similar strategy the US favored Islamic groups over leftists, who were placed on hit lists compiled by the CIA. What’s also forgotten is that many Palestinians are Christians who would not take kindly to sharia law.

    Will Israel be “destroyed?” Probably not, just slowly ground down by several factors. As oil becomes more and more expensive, Israel will have a harder time meeting its needs, civilian and military. Water shortages will also make life more difficult.

    When the US sinks into a debt-induced depression it’s less likely to send aid to Israel and other countries. Israel will have to depend on its own resources plus foreign donors who may themselves be feeling a financial pinch. A lot of Israelis may decide that life is better elsewhere.

  34. 34 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 19, 2008 at 06:15

    Papa Hopkins,
    By the time of peace talking about Ghandhi may be considered political failour, undemocratic, mean, hatefull & hipocracte.
    No doubt Bin Ladin & Ghandhi have commonalities except religion.

  35. April 19, 2008 at 08:55

    The founders of Israel were terrorists against the British (my grandfather was a colonel with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was present in Palestine when the King David Hotel was bombed by Jewish terrorists whom included Menachem Begin of the Irgun who went on to become a prime minister of Israel). One terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.. Bottom line is that the continued Israeli theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank and the ongoing seige of Gaza drives the ‘terrorism’ (resistance from a Palestinian perspective). Robert Pape’s book (/Dying to Win’) conveys how the majority of suicide bombers are driven to do what they do because of occupation of their land.

    The US was tragically attacked at the World Trade Center in 1993 and on 9/11 because of support for Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as I conveyed in the exchange with Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission via the following youtube:

    Video that gets to the Israel question:

    The US invaded Iraq in accordance with the ‘A Clean Break’/war for Israel agenda that esteemed US intelligence author/writer James Bamford discussed in his ‘A Pretext for War’ book (see pages 261-269/321 of ‘A Pretext for War’ at the following URL):


    It appears that the US is getting ready to attack Iran which will be for Israel as well in accordance with the rest of the ‘A Clean Break’ agenda:


  36. April 19, 2008 at 12:14

    According to my considered opinion,former united states president Mr.Carter has adopted a right way which goes to real desination called peace in the Middle East.

    In the real sense,Hamas does not come in the ring of terrorism.The term of terrorism can not be imposed on it because it has popularity among the palestinian people.For example it has been in power by the popular vote.People voted Hamas to power which ruled palestine for some time as representative of the people.

    We should recognise the reality that Hamas fire rocket on Israel and alternatively face counter attack from Israel.Some time Israel cross all limites as have seen in the near past in form of Gaza blocked.

    All the parties concerned should admitte thier mistakes has been made in the past and move forward with new courge keeping in minde ground realities.

    President Carter is right when he is saying negotiations with Hamas is essential and without their participation in the peace process Palestine would remained the arena of bloodshed.

    As the world have seen Annapolis conference has still been failed because united states put Hamas aside delibrately.Some time seems a game is being played which probably going to in favour of Israel only

  37. 37 Chi Primus
    April 19, 2008 at 12:53

    How’s a terrorist? Is he somebody that the west and her allies find it difficult to curtail their wings?, somebody who is forced into a state destitute and sub-human conditions and while there he tries to liberate himself using the means available to him? The world and especially the west are made up of hypocrites!!! Once the gross injustices and inequalities we are observing in the world today continue, we should always expect to have martyrs that will put their lives in harm’s way to correct the situation. Why is the concept of terrorist very common only in the last century? Gross injustices and inequalities could shade some light. Remember, you never work or talk with somebody because you like, trust or even understand the person BUT because you NEED the person. NEED should should be the driving force, while in there the mutual trust may emanate.

  38. 38 Xie_Ming
    April 19, 2008 at 12:56

    The BBC itself has good coverage on some of these points:


    Those interested might consider getting an RSS feed or regularly reviewing the BBC Mid-East newscoverage.

  39. 39 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 11, 2008 at 09:04

    Should the U.S. talk to “terrorists”?

    NO! Because they are accused of committing
    criminal offences against society.

    Madrid, United States of America

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