Can we negotiate with terrorists?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Visits to terrorist supporting nations and organizations by prominent public figures such as former president Jimmy Carter have been criticized by some officials and even generated outraged accusations of treason by some citizens.

Carter and others try to keep diplomatic channels open toward governments and political groups that are regarded by our government as hostile.

They shouldn't do that. Private citizens should avoid sending mixed messages to those who the government considers enemies and to the rest of the world.

That being said, it is very much overstating the problem to refer to such private do-gooders as traitors.

Sometimes our enemies have not been clearly identified and our relationships are flexible toward such entities as Libya, Syria and the PLO. And it is difficult to understand how we can define the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as our allies.

There has been "back door" diplomacy toward North Korea and even Iran.

Still, regardless of whether we agree with our government's attitude toward a specific political entity, it should be our government that defines our diplomatic policies.