Do we negotiate with terrorists?
June 18, 2004 11:37 PM   Subscribe

Do we negotiate with terrorists?

I've always believed the line that we don't negotiate with terrorists. That an American citizen may die (like Nick Berg or Paul Johnson), but we will not negotiate with their captors. Do you buy this? Is there any kind of underhanded dealing that goes on? A friend of mine insists we negotiate, but I say we don't. Have there been cases that are clear examples of one or the other?
posted by MrAnonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total)
posted by interrobang at 11:40 PM on June 18, 2004


But now that we are fighting the "war on terror," do you think this type of thing still goes on? Do you think we tried to get Berg and Johnson freed through negotiation? Or do we just say, "screw you, we'll send in our special forces and hope to find you before you kill him."

More importantly, do these terrorists really expect us to give in to them?
posted by MrAnonymous at 11:55 PM on June 18, 2004

With this government, we aren't going to know what's going on behind the scenes for fifty years. Someone else can answer this question better than I can.

(Sorry if I seemed snarky.)
posted by interrobang at 11:58 PM on June 18, 2004

Some governments do, some don't.

Carter, Reagan, most French & German govts. UK negotiated with the IRA. Also Israelis negotiate to secure return of soldiers.

I don't recall the Bush I or II govt's doing negotiations. I don't know of a govt. that categorically says they always will or never will - most are pragmatic.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:34 AM on June 19, 2004

the argument to not negotiate with terrorists is based on the argument that over the long term it will be a bad idea - over the short term, it is likely to get results, but it will encourage more problems later.

since governments are notorious for doing things for short term gain, at the expense of long term benefits, in every other area of life, it seems unlikely that they'd make an exception for terrorism.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:30 AM on June 19, 2004

The Bush administration negotiated cease-fires with "terrorists" in Najaf and Fallujah.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:01 AM on June 19, 2004

Some of the terrorists you're talking about don't even have demands. They execute these acts because they want to hurt people. It is a "war" for them, too. They're not trying to bargain for something necessarily, they're just fighting, trying to bring down the Great Satan (or whatever).
posted by scarabic at 6:16 PM on June 19, 2004

You should actually really just listen to the Wednesday, June 16 edition of NPR's Talk of the Nation.


Negotiating with Terrorists

The latest wave of violence and kidnapping in Saudi Arabia raises an old question: Should governments negotiate with terrorists when hostages are involved. Join NPR's Neal Conan and his guests for that discussion. And, it's been a year since the racially charged riots in Benton Harbor, Mich. We'll check in with that community later today.


Brian Jenkins
*Senior advisor to the president of the RAND Corp.
*Some of the reports he's co-authored include Countering al Qaeda and Deterrence and influence in countering terrorism

Gianni Picco
*Former United Nations hostage negotiator (was assistant U.N. secretary-general under Javier Perez de Cueller)
*Author of Man Without a Gun: One Diplomat's Secret Struggle to Free the Hostages, Fight Terrorism, and End a War
*Chairman of an international consulting firm, GDP Associates, in New York
posted by scarabic at 6:23 PM on June 19, 2004

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