Saturday, July 15, 2006

We do not seem to learn to talk to our enemies

We should know by now that if you want to make peace, you have to talk to your enemies. Talking only to your friends does no good. If when you first talk to your enemies, they attack back, you have to continue to talk. Defend yes, but not attack back. After several hundred years, Britain learned this in dealing with the IRA, and Spain with ETA. The IRA looked a lot like Hezbollah - with a military wing and a "political" wing which had elected representatives in Parliament. However, in spite of continued attacks, the talking went on. The progress versus these two groups shows that you can negotiate with terrorists, and even slowly absorb them into society. The Negotiation Program at Harvard law school has taught this for many years, and the process has been shown to work. Yet our instincts, when attacked are to strike back harder. This simply creates more polarization and more terrorists.

I am confident in predicting that as long as people think you can crush terrorism militarily, it will not happen. No terrorist group in history has ever been crushed by force. Of course in 1916 the USA invaded Mexico to "punish" Pancho Villa, who had attacked Americans in the USA. The end result was that the USA retreated in complete failure several months later.

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