The Instigator
wonderwoman
Pro (for)
Losing
19 Points
The Contender
Realist
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

Should governments negotiate with terrorists?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/30/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 10,549 times Debate No: 9579
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (8)

 

wonderwoman

Pro

Well, this is my first debate here, so why not make it an interesting topic?

I am pro meaning I advocate the negotiating with terrorists.

For round 1) I'd just like a few like hello, I'm debating you. Maybe throw in some trash talk. But basically round 1 is a just a get to know ya game. And round 2 is when the actual cases should be posted. Thank you :)
Realist

Con

Hi there,

Welcome to the site. I'm also quite new here myself, and don't have much of a background in formal debating, so it should be a fair fight, so to speak :P

I'm amazed to see some one else on here too that likes Starcraft, perhaps my profile section about sporting teams referring to SKT1 and KTF won't completely fall on deaf ears :P

Anyway good luck to you, and have fun :) I'll just leave it at that, as per request, and await your opening statement in r2.
Debate Round No. 1
wonderwoman

Pro

The definition of negotiate, "To confer with another or others in order to come to terms or reach an agreement on a matter." To "come to terms" by talking.

That seems like a good idea, doesn't it? It doesn't necessarily mean supporting anything. Which brings me to my first point.

1) Negoiate doesn't mean support anything
As an example, suppose a terrorist group sets up camps in a country and promises some evil action. Representatives of the intended victims "negotiate" with them, meaning they sit down to talk. They outline how once attacked they will hunt down and kill all attackers. If the terrorists move out of the country and cancel their plans though, they'll be left alone. The bad guys come to terms with that and move out Unrealistic? There are many historical examples of aggressors backing down when confronted with the likely consequences of their plans. Other options are always available in any case. Doesn't it seem very unwise to say we'll never talk to bad people? Actually, it can be an incredibly immoral stance since the alternative to a talk may be to wait and watch thousands be killed by these criminals. For what? So a country or leader can display some kind of principled machismo in public afterwards?

2) One man's terrorist anther man's freedom fighter

Most terrorists are do not enjoy violence although some may. They stand for a political stance, religious stance, or represent a certain demographic of people. A good example is the ANC in South Africa. For years they were regarded as terrorists by their government and many foreign governments. However, for the majority of the population they were legitimately fighting for freedom. History will show that these "terrorists" were on the right side of the conflict as the apartheid government was in the wrong.

3) Governments Responsibility to Save Lives
History has shown that military solutions have little chance of success. When engaged in a military operation the freedoms of the innocence are often tread upon. The promise of negotiation SHOULD be used to stop violence and will more than like lead to a ceasefire. This has been seen throughout history when terrorists have been brought to the negoiating table. In other cases such as hostages it is worth negoiating to save those innoncent lives than to have the government stand on a stubbon point of moraliy.

4) Maximize Utility

The author of the Negotiation Theory asks "Should I negotiate with terrorists or someone like Hitler" The answer is yes. Negotiations with people like Hitler or terrorists can lead to an outcome that is better than the status quo and avoids an undesirable outcome. (loss of life) Negotiating with terrorists should be permissible because it maximizes collect utility and saves lives.

Resolution Affirmed
Realist

Con

Hi there,

I agree to with your proposed definition of "negotiate" for the purposes of this debate.

I'll lay out my primary arguments against negotiating with terrorists firstly, to give you a clearer idea where I'm coming from, and then I'll briefly answer your initial points.

1. Negotiation Reinforces and Legitimizes the Activities of Terrorist Groups
I feel this is the main point against negotiating with terrorists. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I'm reasonably sure most people can agree that violent acts of terrorism are not a desirable means of obtaining what one wants, my opponent included. However, she seems to be suggesting that, although undesirable, once terrorists have gone ahead with malicious attempts of coercion, we should respond by sitting down with them and discussing and negotiating their demands. I agree that this would likely save immediate lives, but it rewards terrorists for resorting to violence. It broadcasts a clear message to others that a well organized act or threat of destruction will get you what you want. So, while immediate lives may well be saved, such negotiations will undoubtedly lead to more terrorist acts in the future as terrorism will become a recognized method of obtaining what you want.

2. Agreements with Terrorists are Unenforceable
Suppose we do decide to negotiate; Suppose the negotiations seem to go well and an arrangement is achieved to the satisfaction of both parties; Suppose also that the terrorist faction then fails to meet their end of the bargain. What do you propose we do in such an event? It may be a little too hopeful and unrealistic to expect Osama Bin Laden to respond to a request to appear in a court of law. The mere fact that they are willing to use acts of terror in the first place as a means of negotiation shows that they're not concerned about your well being, so what incentive do they have to honour their end of the bargain once they get what they want? As well as that, a large and highly dispersed terrorist cell such as Al-Qaeda likely wouldn't even be able to guarantee the conformity of all their adherents. Factions of Al-Queda not directly associated with Bin Laden may in fact be unhappy with the terms of the cease fire and deliberately refuse to honour it. Alternatively, they may not even receive the news that a negotiation has been reached.

3. Negotiation With Terrorists Destabilizes Honest Political Systems
As well as reinforcing and encouraging further terrorist activity, negotiating with terrorists also discourages honest political activity. Such negotiations undermine individuals and groups who seek political change via peaceful means. Peaceful protests and petitions will, in some cases, take a back seat to acts and threats of destruction. And why shouldn't they? The precedent that terror, if organized well enough, WILL get you what you want would've already been set. From the perspective of a person or party without strong moral conviction, honest political means would simply become inefficient compared with acts of terror.

Response
You make the point that to negotiate does not necessarily mean one agrees with the actions of the party they're negotiating with. In my opinion this is extremely short sighted. It fails to recognize what the implications will be if such a dangerous precedent is set.

"There are many historical examples of aggressors backing down when confronted with the likely consequences of their plans."

- Such as?

"...[refusing to negotiate under any circumstances] can be an incredibly immoral stance since the alternative to a talk may be to wait and watch thousands be killed by these criminals. For what? So a country or leader can display some kind of principled machismo in public afterwards? [sic]" and "Governments Responsibility to Save Lives"

- Firstly, a refusal to negotiate with terrorists is not out of "machismo" or public displays of masculinity, power, pride, etc. The refusal is a statement that acts of terror are not a legitimate negotiating tool. If even some extreme terrorist threats are responded to, the whole idea of preventing future terrorism is undermined as a result.

- Secondly, the amount of people killed in a terrorist act that is refused the chance to negotiate has to be less than the amount of future people put at risk and killed by the increased terrorist activity resulting from demonstrating that acts of terror can be used as a valuable bargaining chip.

"One man's terrorist anther man's freedom fighter"

- The principle remains the same regardless of the cause, just or unjust. There are honest and peaceful alternatives to violence. Giving in to terrorist demands legitimizes and reinforces their behaviour, much like feeding pigeons in a park encourages them to keep coming back.

""Should I negotiate with terrorists or someone like Hitler" The answer is yes. Negotiations with people like Hitler or terrorists can lead to an outcome that is better than the status quo and avoids an undesirable outcome."

- Hitler wanted nothing less than the extermination of all Jews, homosexuals, and many other minority groups. Negotiations with such a character would be an abomination. World War 2, although a terrible tragedy for all sides concerned, was absolutely a justified war.

I look forward to your response.

Thanks,
Rob.
Debate Round No. 2
wonderwoman

Pro

hey, sorry i won't be able to post an actual rebuttal or argument and I hope that you will be kind and to do the same. I have had to work so much this week :( I am strapped for time as I type this. I look forward to refuting/extending my case in the next round. Thank you
Realist

Con

Very well, I'll also forgo this round since you were unable to post a reply to the previous round. I've also waited until almost the end of the 3 day period to post this to give you some extra time to compose your response before your next 3-day countdown starts.

Good luck,
Rob.
Debate Round No. 3
wonderwoman

Pro

Extending my contention 4) Maximizing Utility

He wanted an example and here is one.
During the cold war we talked to to leaders in the Soviet Union in order to prevent simple misunderstandings from becoming a nuclear war - and that was with a regime that did truly evil things. Would it have been better to say, We refuse to talk to people who do such bad things, so we'll just get our nuclear bombs ready?

Contention 3) Governments Responsibility to Save Lives
THis was virtually untouched or addressed my opponent and therefore must be flowed across.

When is a government guilty of mass murder? If a government knowingly allows hundreds of thousands of people to die unnecessarily when negoiating with the regime cold've saved all those lives shown through contention 4.

Contention 2) One mans terrorist another mans freedom fighter

My opponent says "The principle remains the same regardless of the cause, just or unjust. There are honest and peaceful alternatives to violence. Giving in to terrorist demands legitimizes and reinforces their behaviour, much like feeding pigeons in a park encourages them to keep coming back." How does it legitimize their behavior? You are not giving it to their demands when you negoiate. You are merely coming to terms for peace and sending them back home on their merry way.

Contention 1) Negoiate doesn't mean support anything

Now to my opponents case. His 1st contention.
First of all, many people take "negotiate" to mean conceding something of value, and so supporting the other side's evil intentions, or at least giving them credibility. Combine this with a broad definition of terrorists and you get the extreme view that we should never even talk to those who support terror. Now consider this dictionary definition of negotiate, "To confer with another or others in order to come to terms or reach an agreement on a matter." To "come to terms" by talking? That seems like a good idea, doesn't it? It doesn't necessarily mean supporting anything.
As an example, suppose a terrorist group sets up camps in a country and promises some evil action. Representatives of the intended victims "negotiate" with them, meaning they sit down to talk. They outline how once attacked they will hunt down and kill all attackers. If the terrorists move out of the country and cancel their plans though, they'll be left alone. The bad guys come to terms with that and move out.

His 3rd Contnetion. An honest political system.......
There is a famous joke that has been going around for quite some time. It goes like this:
Two young men were walking along the road one day and came up to a cemetery. One stopped and read out loud one of the headstones. It reads "Here lies an honest man and politician". "Well what do you think about that?" said the man after reading the headstone. "Hmm.. it looks as if they bury people here on top of each other!"
It may seem funny but it is also quite true. There does not exist an honest politician. The two words when used together can in no way be referring to one person. This statement may be of great argument to a lot of people but I do believe it holds. According to a very interesting analysis of the word "Politics" (one that I am a particular fan of) it says that the word "Politics" comes from two words; The Latin word "Poly" which means "many" and "tics" which describes "blood sucking creatures".

To end I leave you with this thought
Terrorim is in the eye of the beholder.
Realist

Con

My opponent claims that I did not respond to her point about governments having a responsibility to save lives. In fact, I did respond to that point. I quoted her point and then responded to it directly below in the section "Responses". I'm not sure how I could've made it clearer :P Nevertheless, here it is again:

"...The amount of people killed in a terrorist act that is refused the chance to negotiate has to be less than the amount of future people put at risk and killed by the increased terrorist activity resulting from demonstrating that acts of terror can be used as a valuable bargaining chip."

Of course, it's a little harder to gather statistics for the amount of deaths that would've resulted if terrorism was legitimized, so forgive me for not quoting any statistics. Clearly, though, people will be deterred from an action if they can recognize that it is not likely to succeed. A policy of no negotiations with terrorists would therefore undoubtedly deter would-be terrorists from going ahead with threats of violence against non-combatants. It just seems to me to be a matter of basic psychology.

We all surely agree that terrorism is not something you want more of. Where I perceive the problem to be is my opponent's inability to see the bigger picture and recognize that, while negotiations will undoubtedly save lives in the short term, the same negotiations will put much more lives at jeopardy in the future. My opponent accuses a government unwilling to negotiate with terrorists of potentially being guilty of mass murder. On the contrary, I'd accuse a government that makes it known that they're willing to negotiate with people who threaten harm against non-combatants (a.k.a. the definition of terrorism) to be guilty of destabilizing society, undermining security, undermining the efforts of parties who have pursued alternative peaceful means of political change, and legitimizing and encouraging violence, lawlessness and chaos.

When my opponent says that negotiation doesn't mean supporting anything I think she's confusing my point. She says "How does it legitimize their behavior? You are not giving it to their demands when you negotiate." I fully grant that negotiating with a terrorist faction does not mean that we support their ultimate cause, it could very well just mean that we're prepared to concede some of their terms in order to minimize harm to civilians. However, the fact that a person or group can threaten violence against non-combatants and receive consideration of their demands serves to demonstrate that terrorist threats DO WORK (just wanting to emphasize, not come across as yelling - I would use italics to emphasize, but it's unavailable). To negotiate with terrorists was never to support, agree or sympathize with their cause, it was to reward their means, serving to legitimize it in the minds of others in desire of political change.

My opponent uses as an example of negotiations being successful the following:

"As an example, suppose a terrorist group sets up camps in a country and promises some evil action. Representatives of the intended victims "negotiate" with them, meaning they sit down to talk. They outline how once attacked they will hunt down and kill all attackers. If the terrorists move out of the country and cancel their plans though, they'll be left alone. The bad guys come to terms with that and move out."

Ultimately I appeal to the judgment of the readers and voters, but that doesn't sound like an example of successful negotiations with terrorists. In fact, it sounds more like my position of non-negotiation. It is a statement to the terrorist group that if they carry out their attack they will be pursued and killed. I don't see how anyone reading this could consider that an example of negotiations. I would think that by the proposition "Should governments negotiate with terrorists?" it is being proposed that governments should listen to the demands of the terrorists and consider an acceptable way to accommodate them to minimize immediate harm. Indeed, by my opponent's own definition of negotiate - "To confer with another or others in order to come to terms or reach an agreement on a matter" - this is not a negotiation as both parties have not agreed on anything.

I fail to see the significance of my opponent's last statement about politicians all being dishonest which is introduced with a joke. Even if one were to grant that she is correct and that all politicians are dishonest (which I don't), what does it even mean in the context of this debate?

I regret that this was only a 2 round debate (since the first of 4 was an introduction only and the third was essentially forfeited) and that we couldn't properly discuss the issue. However, I do not feel that my opponent has met her burden of proof. She recognizes (as I imagine anyone would) that negotiation with terrorists will minimize harm in the short term, but fails to see the bigger picture that it will reinforce and encourage further terrorism.

Thank you for the dialogue nevertheless :)
Rob.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by xcountrybabex4 4 years ago
xcountrybabex4
Governments shouldn't negotiate with terrorists because other terrorist groups will have no reason to not act. If we negotiate with them to try to avoid violence then other groups will think they can get away with their acts of terror and this will keep happening over and over again and overall more violence will happen then if we reacted with violence with the first attack.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
I thought both sides did well for new debaters on the site. Arguments were uncluttered and understandable.

Pro has the burden of proof and should have presented historical evidence to support the Pro position. What are the instances where negotiations with terrorists saved lives, where terrorists honored their agreements, and where it led to conflict resolution? Has any of these things occurred? Perhaps there are examples from Northern Ireland that could be used. The Pro tactic, I think, should be to argue that *sometimes* negotiations work; it depends upon the terrorists.

Because the arguments were abstract, Con did a good job of going down the list and refuting them on the conceptual level. Pro failed to meet the burden of proof, so the debate goes to Con. There were no conduct violations in the debate, and spelling and grammar were abut even, but it appears that voters in this debate are just scoring all 7 points for the win.
Posted by Realist 5 years ago
Realist
That just serves to further validate my second point, that agreements made with terrorists are unenforceable :P
Posted by Cody_Franklin 5 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Strangely enough, truces WERE negotiated with Hitler; a bit less strangely, he broke all of them.
Posted by Realist 5 years ago
Realist
Could someone who voted primarily for my opponent describe their reasoning in the comments section here, please. In all honesty, and nothing against my opponent, but I really don't think her arguments in this particular debate were all that convincing at all.

I especially don't understand how she got 2 votes for better conduct when she forfeited a round and I agreed to hold off posting any new material during that round to be fair.

If I lost the debate fair and square according to the opinion of the voters that's fine I can accept it. All I'm asking for is just that they (assuming they are proper independent people) describe the reasoning behind their each 7-0 voting (at the time of this comment the score was 14-0 with 2 votes).

Thank you.
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