Magazine article The American Conservative

We Need to Talk

Magazine article The American Conservative

We Need to Talk

Article excerpt

Five years on from the WTC tragedy, the war on terror is not only far from won, the blunder of Iraq is radicalizing countless young Muslims the world over. It seems at times that this administration is not only dumb but also deaf. Cheney recently said that they must be doing something right because in the five years since the attack, al-Qaeda has not come back to kill more Americans. In that he's correct, but try telling that to the families of close to 3,000 American soldiers who have died in a useless war and the tens of thousands lying crippled in their hospital beds.

Only two months ago, the alleged plot to blow up American planes over the Atlantic suggested that the threat to American citizens all over the world is real and very lethal. Faced with the prospect of nonstop war and bloodshed, as those cowardly neocons would have it, what are our options? That's an easy one. Sit down and talk to the bastards, as the great General Douglas MacArthur would have said were he alive.

There are plenty of historical precedents. Talking to terrorists is supposedly a no-no, but everyone, including the unbending Israelis, has done it throughout history. Successive British governments had one mantra where the IRA was concerned: we do not talk to terrorists until they put their guns down. Well, the Iron Lady did, off the record, as did John Major, off the record, and then Tony Blair talked on the record and now there is peace in Northern Ireland. In fact, the war that began early in the 20th century and heated up after 1972 is finally over. Yes, there are bodies of innocents all over the place, but peace has finally come to that miserable part of the world.

In Spain, things are not yet hunky dory, but the Spanish are talking to ETA, the Basque separatists, and there are fewer assassinations and deaths of innocent people.

And let's not forget the greatest triumph of chatter over machine-gun clatter: South Africa. Who would have believed that the tough-talking, rigid as hell Boers would sit down and deal with the "bloodthirsty terrs," as they called the ANC. It's not perfect, and crime is at an all-time high in South African cities, but at least the massacres are a thing of the past and life goes on much better than before.

Even the Israelis make a semblance of talking to the PLO. All they have to do is also talk to the democratically elected Hamas, something they refuse to do. …

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