Wars Can't End Unless You Negotiate, Thom Hartmann Opines

Ever notice that liberals possess a childlike faith in the magical powers of negotiating? This is perhaps best embodied by Bill Clinton, a man who conveys the distinct impression of believing he can talk his way out of anything.

Liberal radio host Thom Hartmann shares that faith, as exhibited on his radio show last week when he joined the chorus of praise on the left for the Obama administration springing American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban held at Guantanamo Bay. (Audio after the jump)

Why are conservatives so quick to condemn the willingness to negotiate with our enemies, Hartmann asked (audio) --

Now, my take on this is, this was a brilliant move. This is, you know, Israel's been doing this for a long, long time with the Palestinians and they'll say, you release one Israeli soldier, we'll release a hundred Palestinians. And the subtext to it is, our guy's a hundred times more important than your guys. And what the president basically said to the Taliban is, our guy's five times more important than your guys, number one. Number two, you do negotiate with terrorists. This is how, you know, Maggie Thatcher began the process of ending the war between England and the Irish Republican Army, who now have seats in the British Parliament. This is how, I mean, conflict after conflict, I mean, this is how, this is how Israel began the process of negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, the PLA, with Yasser Arafat. You do negotiate with your enemy. If you don't negotiate with your enemy, you can't end the war. I mean, this is just really common sense stuff. To say you don't negotiate with terrorists is, on its face, stupid.

Picture this if you will -- one week after 9/11, Osama bin Laden appears on Al Jazeera and warns America that more attacks are coming unless President Thom Hartmann agrees to meet with him at a neutral site to hear a full airing of al Qaeda's grievances and demands. Does President Hartmann agree? Based on what he told his radio listeners, it would be "really common sense stuff" for Hartmann to do so and "stupid" to refuse.

Or how about this -- an actual president, Franklin Roosevelt, appears before Congress on Dec. 8, 1941, one day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But instead of asking Congress for a declaration of war, this iteration of FDR, the chattier version Hartmann would have preferred, tells members of Congress that "although yesterday was a day of infamy which will live forever, it's not as if the Japanese don't have legitimate gripes. I therefore suggest that we negotiate with them immediately rather than imperil the American mainland and put countless innocent lives in jeopardy."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there weren't much in the way of negotiations as the Allies fought their way toward Berlin in 1945. They'd learned the hard way at Munich seven years earlier that the man on the other side of the table couldn't be trusted, a prerequisite to any negotiations worth a damn.

As for Thatcher and the IRA, Hartmann neglects to mention that Thatcher came to regret signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. The IRA, meanwhile, continued bombing British targets for another 16 years, until 2001. Perhaps this had something to do with Thatcher signing the agreement less than a year after the IRA nearly killed her, her husband Denis and the entire British cabinet in the notorious bombing of a hotel in Brighton.

Notice how Hartmann claims Thatcher negotiating with the IRA "began the process" of ending the war between Britain and the IRA, followed by him saying that Israel "began the process of negotiating" with the Palestinians -- which aren't the same thing at all. Even he knows it would be a stretch to suggest that conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is likely to end soon due to the willingness of some Israelis to negotiate with those intent on annihilating them.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Liberated ex-liberal from the People's Republic of Massachusetts