The Corner

Neo-Real Split?

I’m with Rich on the talk-talk thing. I thought it was interesting this weekend that Bill Kristol derided talks with the insurgents as “negotiating with terrorists.” While I certainly understand where the perspective comes from and I agree with it depending upon which insurgents we’re talking about, I can’t help but think that’s an ideological distinction which might hinder progress in Iraq. Don’t get me wrong, if we could snap our fingers and kill all of the insurgents today, I’d be in favor of it. But if what all the military historian types say is true about the nature of insurgencies, I just don’t think we can take the position that everybody with a gun fighting on the other side in Iraq are irredeemable terrorists. If some insurgents are misguided nationalists, why not guide them into the government? If some are amoral opportunists, what’s wrong with explaining to them that greater opportunities await on the other side? Dice and slice the opposition every way you can. Never negotiate with al Qaeda types and use discrimination with baathists. But at the end of the day victory is a free and stable Iraq, and if the route to that place is through some painful negotiations with some bad guys, so be it. It’s not like every single person in the current Iraqi government is an angel.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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