Monday, April 21, 2008

Should President Carter Have Met with Hamas?

The former president says that the issue is not that he met with Hamas, widely regarded as a terrorist organization, but that the United States and Israel refuse to. Should organizations considered to be terrorist be included in diplomatic dialogue if the goal is peace? Or would this encourage groups to employ terrorist tactics to gain a voice? Was former President Carter out of place and did his meeting legitimate a terrorist group, or are the policies of not negotiating with terrorists outdated and impeding the peace process?


hannah said...

I think this is an interesting question, especially as it seems President Carter achieved something in his talks with Hamas which the U.S. has failed to do. It is unfortunate that he had to engage with Hamas as a terrorist organization and they have not renounced violence as Rice challenged them to do, but they are a significant group in terms of working toward some kind of peaceful solution. While the U.S. makes a policy out of not negotiating with terrorists, I think in this occasion it is important to ask if the ends are more important than the means. If the basis of Carters talks with Hamas lead to even a slight beginning of resolution, then I think it is worth it to engage with terrorists. We have been trying so hard for so long to find some kind of resolution in the region, that approaching it in a new way as Carter did seems to be the only option now.

Ryan said...

Hamas is considered by some to be a terrorist organization, but it's also a political party that represents the beliefs/values of a large number of people. Hamas has some valid points. It wants what it believes to be justice. Americans want the same for themselves. Clearly there's disagreement, and the problems will not be resolved without some type of dialogue. Non-recognition is counterproductive. Ignoring Hamas will only fuel its anti-American sentiments. So while engaging in a diplomatic dialogue might provide Hamas with credibility and suggest that groups can "gain a voice" through terrorism, the truth is that Hamas already has a voice -- it currently is the controlling party of the Palestinian Authority. The Middle East -- both Arabs and Jews -- is becoming a major center of international power both politically and financially. For the US to maintain its hard and soft power in the region, it would be wise to at least have a dialogue with Hamas. In conclusion, yes, "terrorist organizations" (if that's what we call Hamas) should be included in the diplomatic dialogue if the goal is peace.