Being the child of union organizers, the first word I taught my infant son was “negotiate”. He learned too well. As soon as he learned to talk every time we disagreed over his behavior or a chore he demanded to “’agotiate” it. Progressive parents be warned. The first word should have been “no”.
Why not “agotiate” with ISIS if it saves even a few lives? Such as the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian pilot Lt. Kasasbeh if they are still alive. Who knows if the ISIS bosses will keep their word? Only one way to find out. Give them the money, we have oodles of it to waste on corrupt Afghan narco-pols, the insanely expensive poorly performing F35 Strike Fighter as an outright gift to Lockheed Martin, and anything you want to look at in the bloated Pentagon’s “defense budget”.
Sooner or later, as we learned in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, and as all trade unionists know, you have to sit down with your worst enemy and work out a deal. It ALWAYS seems impossible at first. Their atrocities and a desire for blood revenge fog our mind, and the very idea of talking to the suicide bombers’ shot-callers is “appeasement of evil”, which it is.
But why stick on a failing principle when lives are at stake? ISIS doesn’t want our money but our recognition of the Caliphate as a legitimate state. Whether we like it or not that’s pretty much where it is. They ain’t going away any time soon. Journalists have stopped calling ISIS the “so called” or “self styled”. That’s how we tried wishing away the IRA with stunning lack of success at first.
“We don’t negotiate with terrorists”? Sure, we do. After swearing on the King James Bible “no surrender to terror”, the British government, with lots of talk and some money, bought peace from the armed and quite ferocious IRA (which on one occasion bombed me out of my bed). Yet today former IRA killers like deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and Mary McCardle sit in the Northern Ireland Assembly as part of the peace agreement with Sinn Fein (alias IRA).
Israel, which trumpets the “we never reward terrorists” line, CONSTANTLY negotiates prisoner releases and swaps all the time in return for dead or alive IDF soldiers. It’s a fairly open secret that the French and probably British and Germans deal via foreign intermediaries, or their own secret services, with some pretty nasty ISIS genociders. Is there any alternative other than continuing to bomb the crap out of ISIS which I’m not against?
I’m sure Henry Kissinger would love my devious two-track proposal. Give ISIS money (and hence implied recognition) in return for lives…and then drone them back to the stone age, in Curtis Le May’s immortal warning to the North Vietnamese. (Incidentally, Hoorah! For the “low life scum” – Sen. McCain’s term – of Code Pink protestors who invaded the Senate testimony of war criminal Kissinger.)
ISIS is our original sin because of the lying, deadly way we invaded Iraq. You break it, you pay for it, in the no less immortal words of one of the chief liars, Gen. Colin Powell.
Shit, man. It’s only money.
Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives.