Armed Hostilities

United States and Negotiation With Terrorists

Table of Contents
  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Negotiation with Terrorists
  4. Opposing Views
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


Negotiation is a practice embraced by governments to address conflicts and prevent further standoffs. However, the decision to negotiate with a given terrorist group is believed to be inappropriate since the process might become a way of rewarding the use of violence. This is the case because many terrorist groups use violence as the only method of passing across a given message. When a country decides to negotiate with terrorists, it creates the best environment for different criminals to perpetuate more violence.

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Many analysts indicate clearly that the negotiation process can create a sense of motivation. This move can eventually affect the stability of many communities. This research paper gives an evidence-based argument to explain why the United States should never negotiate with terrorists. The discussion will go further to offer opposing views and arguments that have been presented to support the importance of negotiation between governments and terrorist groups.


As a presidential candidate in 1980, Ronald Reagan promised the electorate that his government would never allow any form of negotiation with terrorists. However, his administration was observed to negotiate with different terrorist groups in the Arab world (Thomas, 2014). Some of these discussions were undertaken in an attempt to ensure several Americans held in Lebanon were released. The same concern was observed in the United States under President George W. Bush. The irrefutable fact is that the issue of negotiation with terrorist groups is something that informs policies in the country.

Unfortunately, many leaders have failed to fulfill their promises to the people. The thesis for this paper is that the United States of America (USA) should never negotiate with terrorists since the malpractice is inappropriate.

Negotiation with Terrorists

Egunjobi and Odiaka (2014) state categorically that it is inappropriate for any government in the world to negotiate with terrorists. This argument is founded on the assertion that terrorists are criminals whose agenda is to disorient societies through the perpetration of violence. Many scholars have explained emphatically that mature democracies should never embrace anything to do with violence (Brandt, George, & Sandler, 2016). Many terrorist groups across the world have been using violence to destroy nations and people’s lives. A good example cited by many analysts is the September 11 attack on Americans. This catastrophic event became a turning point in the manner in which the question of terrorism was analyzed in different regions.

Santifort and Sandler (2013) acknowledge that negotiation is a way of legitimizing the activities undertaken by different terrorist groups. The negotiation process is believed to support the unlawful methods used by different terrorists. Countries that are characterized by terrorist groups tend to be politically unstable. Such groups make it impossible for the government to engage in different nation-building practices. The results are usually catastrophic since the lives of more people are affected. They destroy infrastructure, ask for ransoms, and impose demands that must be met throughout the negotiation process.

Successful democracies are usually defined by peaceful means whenever dealing with political problems. The process of negotiation with terrorists is therefore refuted since it undermines the positions of governments that have been formed using legal and peaceful approaches (Brandt et al., 2016). This fact explains why countries that encourage talks with terrorists find it hard to pursue their economic obligations or goals.

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A study conducted by Brandt et al. (2016) indicated that talks initiated as part of the negotiation process have the potential to subvert the political systems of the involved governments. This is the case because terrorists can identify loopholes to destabilize the functions of the government. They can go further to use such loopholes to perpetrate heinous acts that can eventually affect the welfare of the citizens. Many nations have continued to face terrorist attacks simply because they have been negotiating with such criminals in one way or another (Thomas, 2014).

The global community supports the notion that terrorism is unlawful and capable of undermining global peace. When some members of the United Nations (UN) go-ahead to negotiate with terrorists in an attempt to secure a given objective, it becomes extremely hard for the other member nations to pursue international efforts aimed at dealing with terrorism. Some experts indicate clearly that the ineffectiveness of different policies have made it easier for government officials and leaders to negotiate with terrorist groups. Gottfried (2013) goes further to argue that the process of negotiating with criminals can set a treacherous precedent in the fight against global terror.

Different circumstances, such as hostage crises, might encourage a given government to negotiate with terrorist groups (Egunjobi & Odiaka, 2014). However, any form of negotiation is unacceptable, no matter the existing situation. This should be the case because the precedent set dictates the future of the war on global terror. When countries embrace such negotiations, the stakes increase in every corner of the world. The malpractice creates room for new tactics since terrorists understand that their demands can be heard. This move can make it easier for more terrorist groups to dominate.

Opposing Views

Some political analysts have indicated clearly that many governments negotiate with terrorists. They do so against what they profess and the wishes of the people (Gottfried, 2013). Santifort and Sandler (2013) explain how some terrorists can be engaged in a dialogue whenever someone’s life is at stake. Different thinkers encourage governments to talk with terrorists in an attempt to minimize the dangers and pains associated with terrorism.

Recent studies indicate that many governments negotiate with terrorists (Thomas, 2014). However, such governments do not disclose this practice to the people. This is a serious problem that can only be resolved using negotiations between governments and terrorists. The move can ensure more lives are safeguarded. Santifort and Sandler (2013) argue that successful negotiations can prevent unnecessary deaths. This move will support the needs of more communities in different regions and countries. Recent findings have indicated that negotiation is one of the best practices that can be considered to prevent any form of abuse or support the needs of kidnapped children. The move can be appropriate towards protecting the country’s national security.


The biggest question that should be answered is whether democratic societies such as the United States of America can negotiate successfully with terrorists without putting their political systems at risk. The answer to this issue explains why it would be inappropriate for the government to talk with terrorists. There is no scenario or circumstance that should compel the US government to negotiate with terrorists. The ultimate goal should be to stand firm and avoid legitimizing the use of violence to achieve what one wants (Brandt et al., 2016). The practice will also ensure the government does not set a perilous precedent capable of undermining global peace.


Brandt, P., George, J., & Sandler, T. (2016). Why concessions should not be made to terrorist kidnappers. European Journal of Political Economy, 44(1), 41-52. Web.

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Egunjobi, L., & Odiaka, N. (2014). The negotiation issues in Nigeria’s post-independence conflicts. Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective, 9(1), 33-36. Web.

Gottfried, M. (2013). The domestic politics of coercive terrorism. Web.

Santifort, C., & Sandler, T. (2013). Terrorist success in hostage-taking missions: 1978-2010. Public Choice, 156(1-2), 125-137. Web.

Thomas, J. (2014). Rewarding bad behavior: How governments respond to terrorism in civil war. American Journal of Political Science, 58(4), 804-818. Web.

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