How To Negotiate With The Enemy

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I have heard too many times now that the left wants to negotiate from the enemy. This idea is so absurd you would think it was a bit of propaganda invented by the right. The reality is that it is the left that thinks we would all get along if we just all talked.

Forgetting the history of the 20th century, and forgetting everything we have ever learned since the beginning of time, and forgetting that such a thing as logic and reason exist, and that they dictate that negotiating with your enemies is impossible, let me illustrate in the simplest way possible what a negotiation with Iran or Al Qaeda or any of our enemies looks like.

Pres. Ahmedinajad:  President Bush, thank you for coming. We are here to negotiate the terms of your surrender.

Pres. Bush: Surrender? Excuse me, but I don’t think that was the original premise. We are coming here to discuss what it would take to get you to stop your nuclear program.

A: Well, I think we’ve been quite clear. We are demanding that the world blow up in a ball of flames to bring the 12th Imam to restore God’s law on earth. That is all we want. You die, we live. It will be much easier to kill you when you are dead.

B: This is insane. Why would we want to allow you to kill us at your pleasure? What we want is for you to join the 21st century, the world community, and become our closest ally, like Japan, Korea, and Germany. We want to send engineers and economists to your country to teach you how to create a free, productive society, where everyone can participate in their own future.

A: But you don’t understand. We don’t want those things. We want you to die. Now, there are a few scenarios I was imagining. Under scenario one, we distract the world using our puppet states while we finish building nuclear bombs. Then, we surprise you and set some off in your cities. Scenario two is much like that, except we blow up your allies in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Under either scenario, we are hoping to get a full nuclear war. You should note that we are working closely with Russia, who also wants to see the US cut down a few notches.

B: That’s unacceptable. Why would we give up those things if we are in the position of power? Shall I inform you of your predicament? You are standing on top of a political revolution about to hit your country. You are also stuck between two countries we currently occupy. Your puppet states have all but fallen in Africa. We possess unimaginable military might, and Russia is still a shadow of its former self, unable to even employ its scientists. We have two carrier groups sitting off of your coast, several air bases located not far from your borders, and an advanced satellite network. These things allow us to cripple your economy, destroy all the progress you’ve made towards a nuclear bomb, and also destroy your government, all in a few days of work. The United States will not rest until you no longer threaten the world with nuclear holocaust.

I may be missing a few things in this discussion, but let me be clear about how negotiations really work.

First, you need to come to the table willing to give something to get something. If what you are willing to give does not match what the other party wants, or if what you will get does not match what you want, then negotiations are dead on arrival. In the case of Iran, they want to destroy the world. If you think I am making this up, you haven’t been reading President Ahmedinajed’s speeches nor reading the religion of the Ayatollah Khomeini. In the case of the US, we simply want a peaceful world where people don’t go around killing each other.

When your negotiating goals do not line up, there is no negotiating. There is only conflict. You can try to convince one or the other parties to either shift their goals or be willing to offer something more, but that is usually pointless. Only when it has become apparent that one party has something you really need and you cannot accomplish your goals without it, then negotiations will happen.

In the case of the US-Iran conflict (and we are in conflict because our goals do not align), we can make it clear to Iran that their hope for world destruction will not happen. You could make it clear that you are willing to kill them to stop them. Of course, Iran could do the same to us. If the American hope of creating a peaceful world dies, then perhaps, they might reason, we can accomplish our goals.

It is clear that Iran is never going to come to the negotiation table with anything less than world annihilation as their top priority. They have said this on multiple occasions, and have never backed away from it. It is also clear that the US will never tolerate a world at war, but would rather have peace. Since Iran is not willing to give peace (it would frustrate their plans, obviously), and since we are not willing to allow Iran to destroy the world (it would frustrate our plans too), then we are not going to negotiate.

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