The United States Does Not Negotiate with Terrorists-Period...Does It How to Best Leverage Direct Political Talks with Violent, Non-State Actors within a Broader Coercive Approach to Advance National Interests
NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT RI NEWPORT United States
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United States presidents and allied leaders have long stated through policy that they will not negotiate with terrorists. While politicians echo this talking point, they rarely abide by it. During direct political talks with violent, non-state actors, the United States must return to its unofficial mantra of refusing to negotiate with terrorists in order to defeat these organizations quickly. History is full of warnings where these types of negotiations prolong counterinsurgency operations. Israel negotiated with the Palestine Liberation Organization during the secretive Oslo accords inadvertently ceding legitimacy to terrorists and now find themselves over twenty-five years later failing to achieve security. Colombia negotiated with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia for decades, allowing their people to suffer from subversive tactics which continue to fester. And for almost twenty years, Sri Lanka conducted a series of failed negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam which ended only after the state changed tactics and applied overwhelming force to the terrorists. In these three case studies, direct political talks hurt short-term objectives by providing legitimacy to violent, non-state actors and placing the public at risk by prolonging peace timelines. The results of these case studies demonstrate the importance of states conducting political talks to advance national interests but refusing to negotiate with violent, non-state actors. The United States adhering to a more rigorous negotiations approach to eliminate concessions will advance national security interests.
- Sociology and Law
- Unconventional Warfare