Negotiating with terrorists?

Negotiating with terrorists?
: Two Iranian weblogs are complaining about America’s negotiated truce with the MKO or People

  • Soren Ryherd

    This is exactly the type of dangerous resort to realpolitik that got us in trouble in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, etc. in the first place. When are we going to learn that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend?
    Destabilizing Iran through supporting paramilitary groups is not going to help us. Supporting the widespread democratic movement in Iran will. If military action is called for (and we are so far away from that being called for in Iran), then let’s do it ourselves, above-board.
    This was a stupid move. We should have disarmed them. And it seems so obvious too.

  • Big Lou from Brooklyn

    Ditto to what Soren said. We can’t be preaching Democracy for everyone and Terrorism for none, and then give a bunch of terrorists a free ride just because they’re not aiming their guns at us. This realpolitik that we’ve been involved in for the last 50 years is one of the huge reasons nobody believes in our intentions.

  • Nima

    To re-iterate what big lou and soren said, I have to remind you that MKO is a paramilitary group with a mixture of islamist and communist ideology. They fled to Iraq in the beginning of Iraq-Iran war and operated under support of Saddam Hossein against Iran. After the 1990 Persian Gulf war, the US government added MKO to the list of terrorist organizations.
    They are probably the MOST-HATED group among Iranian people. I believe people hate them much more than the worst of the conservative clerics.
    Therefore any negotiations between US and the MKO will have very bad political messages…

  • Mary

    What was the Tommy Franks (or whoever negotiated this hellish deal) thinking? That it’s OK for us (US) to negotiate with terrorists but not the rest of the world? This is one that will come back to haunt us (or bite us on the ass big time).

  • Fredrik

    Yep, this is one wakeup call you do not wanna snooze away…

  • Pyecraft

    And I was so sure that Syria was next on the list.
    Still, your collective whining won’t change the outcome. MKO made the list way back then, but this is now. Questions change, so must answers.
    Wake up!

  • Samuel Tai

    Yes, this is a poor decision from a moral perspective. However, consider things from an economy of force perspective. We barely had enough force in theatre to defeat Saddam. We definitely don’t have enough force at present to perform policing or peacekeeping post-bellum. So we definitely don’t have enough force to shatter MKO.
    I believe whoever made this decision made an informed choice to trade time for space. Yes, we’ll have to deal with MKO eventually, just not at present. The forces otherwise spent on pursuing MKO can then be moved to a more urgent location. This seems to me more a temporary battlefield truce than a permanent cease-fire.

  • Mitra

    Samuel, what do you mean by “we definitely don’t have enough force to shatter MKO”?? U.S. dealt with a relatively big and equipped Iraqi army, now they don’t have enough power to deal with a group of 3000 people with 5 tanks and 2 helicopters??
    I guess the definition of terrorism is different from land to land. As we say in Persian, it’s “One roof, but two skies”!

  • Samuel Tai

    Mitra, it’s a matter of mass (using the military science meaning). Yes, in the aggregate, we can destroy MKO if we applied all force in theatre. The problem is concentrating these forces. We’ve got troops deployed all over Iraq right now, trying to provide policing and peacekeeping. I submit it is probably more urgent to complete the destruction of Ba’ath and hostile Sunni and Shi’ite forces in the cities (Baghdad, Najaf, etc.) than to be chasing throughout the countryside for MKO.
    We saw the same thing in Afghanistan. Capture the cities, then consolidate gains. Overcome the countryside in detail, using the cities as bases. We are in the consolidating gains phase.
    The reason I regard this as an expedient truce, rather than a permanent accord, is to consider who signed for the US. Did the President sign? No. Did the Senate ratify? No.

  • Steven

    I’m not sure who signed what, but as we all know in the US, it does not mean we have to pay attention to it when it gets in the way, only the others, who every they may be and what list we’re reading on that given day. Sad

  • Samuel Tai

    Steven,
    you seem to think there is morality in foreign affairs. There is none, since foreign affairs is a Hobbesian jungle. Like any nation, we can choose to act morally vis-a-vis other nations, states, NGOs, etc. when it furthers our survival. If acting morally is dangerous to us, then we should not do so.
    We can act morally on an individual level because we have recourse to laws, courts, and police to enforce morality, if I injure you. I.e., there is a Leviathan to whom we can turn for judgment. There is no such Leviathan in international affairs. The UN, regardless of what moral authority it may or may not have, isn’t it, because it has no power to compel states and nations. It has to borrow forces from other nations.
    The US is by far the most powerful nation with respect to any other nation or group, but we are not omnipotent. If the world were an American empire, so that we were the international Leviathan, then perhaps morality between nations could flourish. Nonetheless, we are not the international Leviathan, nor do we have any wish to be. America only desires not to be attacked again, and especially not to be attacked with WMD. If a treaty hinders our self-defense, it is a worthless treaty. Remember, the purpose of a treaty is mutual benefit. If a treaty no longer benefits one of the parties, it is useless.

  • Samuel Tai

    One other note, a treaty is not a contract. If one of the parties to a contract violates the contract’s terms, then she can resort to the courts (Leviathan again) to enforce the contract’s penalties.
    If one of the parties to a treaty breaks the terms of the treaty, the other parties have no Leviathan to which to turn to enforce penalties. The treaty parties themselves have to enforce penalties. If they are not strong enough to do so, then more’s the pity, for they have signed away their safety.