From our inexhaustible Clueless Department: “Why not test bin Laden’s ‘truce’ offer?” by Douglas A. Borer, an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and the author of “Superpowers Defeated: Vietnam and Afghanistan Compared.” From the Christian Science Monitor, with thanks to David:
MONTEREY, CALIF. — One of the hardest decisions a president of the United States is obligated to make is that of going to war. It is a decision, however, that pales in comparison to the degree of difficulty in making peace when one’s enemy remains unvanquished. With the release of Osama bin Laden’s latest media communiquÃ© offering a truce to the US, President Bush must decide whether to stick to the moribund old clichÃ© “we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” or whether he should use this as a potential opportunity to redirect global politics along a path that serves US national interests….
If our goal is to reverse this trend, the question is simple: Are we better off negotiating with Mr. bin Laden? If we can capture or kill him, certainly the US can rightfully claim justice has been served against the perpetrators of 9/11. Because revenge is the sweetest of our dark sweet dreams, bin Laden’s demise will bring no small degree of personal satisfaction to many people. But if we kill him with a well-aimed smart bomb, or if he remains in hiding as a living symbol of a growing anti-US resistance in the Muslim world, will the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan lay down their arms? Leading US government officials have said time and again that bin Laden’s death or capture will not engender these results. Thus, if our wisest men have decided that our present policy toward bin Laden will not help reduce the threat of terrorism, what might help? Does our yearning for revenge outweigh the potential value we might gain by negotiating with bin Laden?…
Borer shows no awareness, none whatsoever, of the terms in traditional Islamic law under which Muslim forces offer a truce. But in that, of course, he is by no means alone.