Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country (Crises in World Politics) Paperback – 8 Jun 2009
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'According to this marvelous new study, Talking to Terrorists... there are serious reasons to doubt that the model of conflict resolution relied on here is an accurate account of what actually happened in Northern Ireland.' ----The Weekly Standard
'This provocative book is a useful corrective to recent work on terrorism and conflict resolution. I believe it should be read by policymakers and practitioners, many of whom continue to be blinded by the apparent success of the Northern Ireland peace process and will benefit from the powerful counterarguments.' ----Stephen Hopkins, University of Leicester
The peace agreement in Northern Ireland has been held up as a beacon for conflict resolution around the world. The lessons of Ulster have been applied by prime ministers, presidents, diplomats and intelligence agents to many areas of violent conflict, from Spain to Sri Lanka, from Afghanistan to Iraq and, frequently, the Israel-Palestine crisis. From Belfast to Basra, the notion that it is necessary to engage in dialogue with one's enemies has been fetishised across the political spectrum. Talking to terrorists is a necessary pre-requisite to peace, it is argued, and governments should avoid rigid pre-conditions in their attempt to bring in the extremes.But does this understanding really reflect what happened in Northern Ireland? Moreover, does it apply to other areas where democratic governments face threats from terrorist organisations, such as in the Basque region of northern Spain?In challenging this notion, the authors offer ananalytical history of the transition from war to peace in Northern Ireland, and compare the violent conflict in the Basque country over the same period, demonstrating how events there have developed very differently than the advocates of 'the Northern Ireland model' might presume.The authors recognise that governments have often talked to terrorists and will continue to do so in the future. But they argue that what really matters is not the act of talking to terrorists itself but a range of other variables including the role of state actors, intelligence agencies, hard power and the wider democratic process. Above all, there is a crucial difference between talking to terrorists who believe that their strategy is succeeding and those who have been made to realise that their aims are unattainable by violence. See all Product description
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The book does caution against drawing parallels between different circumstances -- everything is local, after all -- but the fact that even a brief read in the book will remind you of what is happening with international policy towards the Taliban at the moment is an indicator that there are at least lessons to be learnt here: ending political stalemate in the greater Kandahar area at the moment should be the single priority of any efforts to find `a solution', but doing so from a point of strategic bankruptcy will inevitably be to the detriment of everyone's long-term future.
As such, 'Talking to Terrorists: Making Peace in Northern Ireland and the Basque Country' is an absolute must-read for policy-makers who see a future (or an end-game) in the possibility of some sort of negotiated settlement with the Taliban.