Sleeping with the enemy – Fight back? Or negotiate with terrorist?

Following the news that 57% of Americans are in support of sending ground troops to flight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,  it appears that the UK are following suit with one in three voters backing the idea as well.


Speaking on Friday the Prime Minister said ‘I’m not going to talk about specific individuals and specific cases. But… when there are people anywhere in the world who commit appalling and heinous crimes against British citizens, we will do everything we can with the police, with the security services, with all that we have at our disposal to find these people and put them out of action.

So what does he mean by this? Is he pro troops? Hoping to go in all guns blazing (literally) and follow the words of Dick Cheney when he said ‘“we don’t negotiate with evil; we defeat it”? Or is he more of a Hugh Gaitskell when he brashly stated “All terrorists, at the invitation of the government, end up with drinks in the Dorchester?”

It is a fact that terrorism can not be beaten by military actions alone, but how do you go about talking to deadly radicals? Surely it is evident that traditional negotiation theories struggle to hold any weight in modern times, after all how many reasonable terrorist have you come across? However, by following Robbins (2005) 5 step negotiation process (as pictured below) you do begin to gain a framework that could be used as a basis when negotiating with terrorists. After all, negotiation deals aren’t completely unheard of in British political history, it is just the question of how successful they actually are in the long run.

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 21.01.47

After famously declaring that the British Government would never talk to ‘murder gangs,’  in 1920, Prime Minister David Llloyd Jones began negotiations for a ceasefire with the IRA after admitting a military victory was unobtainable and a final yet flawed treaty was signed a year later in 1921, lasting under a year. Although negotiating with terrorists seems to lead to temporary fixes, it is the prevention of war that saves lives until a permanent solution is found .

Some people would say negotiating with terrorists shows signs of weakness and nothing adventitious can be gained from it, but what would be an effective and enduring alternative?


Let me know what your opinions through the poll and comment box below



10 thoughts on “Sleeping with the enemy – Fight back? Or negotiate with terrorist?

  1. History shows – in the British context – that political statements like “We never talk to terrorists” and “Terrorism cannot win” are rarely truthful. What better example than Northern Ireland? Those who waged a campaign of violence, the Provisional IRA, are now sharing power in the provincial government. Tony Blair stated “no stone would be left unturned” after the Amagh bombing (by dissedent Reruplicans) and what happened? A private prosecution came first and a criminal trial is due later this year.

    It is a very moot point whether the terrorist group currently in the media foreground, Daesh or ISIS, can be negoitated with. Look at their end objective – we should all succumb to their version of Islam.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting, your points are all very valid. I try to be subjective in my posts however this is an issue which I have trouble not forming a personal opinion. It seems crazy to me that almost 17 years later justice has not been prevailed for those who were affected by the Amagh bombing, but that unfortunately is the UK justice system for you. I agree with you that negotiation is very tricky as the majority of middle eastern terrorist groups hold the ideal goal, as you mentioned that we all fall down to an Islamic world. However saying this, the thought of using force breaks my heart when I think of all the innocent soldiers, citizens, women and children who will subsequently lose their home, livelihoods and possibly even their lives. But I guess that is the price of war and the fees for keeping the majority safe. Do you believe there to be any other way apart from the two tactics we’ve discussed? Personally I do not.


  2. I don’t think that we should negotiate with terrorists and that we have done the right thing by fighting against them by sending in troops to Syria and Iraq.

    With the help of other countries we clearly out number them and then maybe they will think twice about what they do. Unlikely but there is always hope.


    1. Thanks for the comment.

      Sending ground troops in is certainly a quicker solution short term but whether it will last I am unsure of. When writing this post I had trouble working out who the EU could negotiate with? ISIS seem to be under many leaders and they don’t seem to be the most rational! If you agree with sending in troops. do you also agree with an EU army which is in the media?


  3. Negotiations between terrorists groups do not work just read the daily mail article here:

    To summarise ISIS began audio conversations with Jordan officials for an exchange of prisoners. The exchange was meant to happen at 2.30PM however an hour before the dealing negotiations collapsed and the jordanian government refused to free their prisoner without proof of life which was not provided. Days later the prisoner Mr Goto who was being exchanged was executed.

    These are sick individuals who get pleasure from tormenting families and treating people like animals! People like this will never be sane enough to talk rationally.


    1. Thanks so much for you input! The link is a great example of negotiation going wrong. It is true these terrorists are not normal people but through a mediator it could be possible. What do you think about the use of mediation ?


  4. After reading the guardians article about how Jordans negotiation deals with terrorists leads to some rewards for the country I was swung to think that it can happen. Although it is sickening releasing prisoners and doing a swap can be the only way to solve this as peacefully as possible


  5. Sadly it won’t work. You can’t negotiate with terrorists just look at how the talks between ISIS and Japan began. Japan made an agreement with Jordan and were willing to release Iraqi terrorists in exchange for Mr Goto. This did not go to plan and Mr Goto was executed on film in the most brutal manner. How are we meant to negotiate with a group of people with no souls?


    1. That was a very sad case but I personally would not use that to generalise all negotiation talks. Look at how the negotiations went with the IRA groups. What do you think on that?


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