The fact is that the Bush/Cheney administration is constantly talking via back channels to every country and large group. It is also a fact that the Bush/Cheney administration talks to many entities that others feel are evil and terroristic. All the banter about appeasement is a ruse. It is basically a method of avoiding redressing the legitimate grievances of the opposition. It is basically a smokescreen for imperialism.

When Did Talking Go Out of Style?
By Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman 06/04/2008

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when "talking" got such a bad rep. But it clearly has one....

Sen. John McCain raised the concern last night, as he has done almost daily. It started with Obama's statement last summer that, if elected, he would talk directly with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea to bridge the impasse between these nations and the United States. Last week, McCain lectured Cuban-Americans that this would "send the worst possible signal to Cuba's dictators." Shortly before, President George W. Bush told the Israeli Parliament that such dialogue is tantamount to caving in to terrorists. Negotiation is appeasement, he said, "which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

Bush is correct that appeasement has been widely discredited. But no observer of foreign relations could possibly equate negotiation with appeasement.
Talking with an opponent is different from fraternizing with or capitulating to him. It is, in fact, the defining tool of diplomacy, humanity's oldest substitute for fighting.
Notably, one nation did indignantly refuse to negotiate with Stalin when the opportunity still existed. The Polish government-in-exile made Soviet acknowledgment of the Katyn Forest Massacre a precondition of face-to-face meetings. The Soviets refused; the two governments broke off relations, and whatever wiggle room existed in that perilous relationship disappeared. History tragically consigned the people of Poland to the wrong side of the Iron Curtain for the next 40 years.

Perhaps the best explanation for a stiff-necked posture toward negotiation is the legacy of the Cold War. In that struggle, the United States ruled out negotiations with Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro and Mao Tse Tung, to mention a few of the most important Communists whom Washington treated as persona non grata.
Of course, there are moments when delaying talks can have some benefit, but to postpone them for almost 50 years, as in the case of Cuba, merely delays resolution of a conflict. In this case, extending a white flag is sensible indeed. There is no conceivable reason, other than spite or pride, to clutch a policy that has produced so little. Why ostracize Cuban citizens or the Cuban government when we welcome interactions with China, a more formidable Communist country by far? Consistency in policy is the bedrock of order.
A cardinal rule of diplomacy is the principle of de facto recognition, to which President George Washington adhered when deciding he must shake the bloody hand of a representative of the French government that murdered Louis XVI. De facto recognition means that one nation does not judge how another nation rules itself internally. It recognizes whatever government wields power. There is no implication of moral approval or disapproval — regardless of how disgusted one might be by the other.
...the United States has long been the preeminent champion of peaceful conflict resolution.

Talking and negotiation tend to be disparaged by people who aren't very adept at either.
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman is the Dwight Stanford Professor of American Foreign Relations at San Diego State University. She is the author of "Major Problems in American History: 1865 to the Present" and "All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the 1960s."

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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