Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies

Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies

by Mark Perry
     
 

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It has long been an article of faith that the United States does not “talk to terrorists”—that to engage in dialogue with groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood would be tacitly to acknowledge their status as legitimate political actors. Not so, argues Middle East expert Mark Perry. In the absence of dialogue, we have lumped these

Overview

It has long been an article of faith that the United States does not “talk to terrorists”—that to engage in dialogue with groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood would be tacitly to acknowledge their status as legitimate political actors. Not so, argues Middle East expert Mark Perry. In the absence of dialogue, we have lumped these groups together with Al Qaeda as part of a monolithic enemy defined by a visceral hatred of American values. In reality, while they hold deep grievances about specific US policies, they are ultimately far more defined by their opposition to the deliberately anti-political Salafist ideology of Al Qaeda.

Drawing on extensive interviews with Washington insiders, Perry describes fruitful covert meetings between members of the US armed forces and leaders of the Iraqi insurgency to demonstrate that talking to terrorists may be best way to end terrorism—controversial wisdom we ignore at our peril.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Perry (A Fire of Zion) offers a stylistically fascinating history of post 9/11 American intervention in the Middle East that unearths the secret meetings between U.S. Armed Forces and insurgents and terrorist organizations. Perry describes the excruciating process led by dedicated American and Iraqi officials to open lines of communication between the American military and Iraqi insurgents, a decision born out of the painful realization “that America's leadership had miscast the enemy in Iraq” and that what was lacking was not “more troops to kill terrorists [but] marines to talk to them.” Perry reassesses conventional wisdom regarding Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah and points out the essential differences between the two nationalist organizations and al-Qaeda, their trans-national nihilistic counterpart, calling into question the American and Israeli tendency to conflate all Islamic political movements as implacable enemies with “nothing to say.” In the penultimate chapter, Perry weaves a lyrical narrative of memories and impressions from 20 years spent in and out of the Middle East. He contributes a worthy commentary on contemporary Middle Eastern history and a valuable argument for communication between America and her enemies. (Feb.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465020959
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
01/26/2010
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
313 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Mark Perry is a military, intelligence, and foreign affairs analyst and writer. His articles have appeared in The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among other papers. He is the author of seven books, including Grant and Twain and Partners in Command. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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