Negotiating with terrorists and the state

“We do not negotiate with terrorists” is a cliche line from most hostage movies and their respective spoofs. But it’s also considered to be a matter of foreign policy.

According to USA Today

The notion that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists is a long-held principle. The enthusiasm over the release of kidnapped Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl angered some people because Bergdahl’s freedom involved the conditional release of five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate took turns hammering President Obama on Sunday for violating the law by not informing Congress of the deal beforehand. They claimed the move weakened America’s stance in the world and put U.S. troops at risk by showing terrorist organizations they can win concessions by kidnapping Americans.

“I fear that the administration’s decision to negotiate with the Taliban for Sgt. Bergdahl’s release could encourage future terrorist kidnappings of Americans,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Sunday in a statement.

Where do I even begin? Congressmen and senators who continue to fund these conflicts overseas put lives in danger, as does the former president who deployed them there in the first place and our current president who keeps them in these countries. The U.S.’s presence in the Middle East, the result of unconstitutional actions, is what weakens its standing in the world.

I don’t understand how people can think that having military bases on foreign soil is somehow acceptable or should be tolerated by the native populations there. If China wanted to place a military base in Mexico, Americans would be ready for war.

It’s funny that republicans talk about not negotiating with terrorists. It’s implied to mean that the government will not accept any demands from a person threatening to use violence if their demands are not met.

Did it ever occur to them that perhaps that is what government does whenever it institutes a new tax, passes a law, or makes a court ruling? The heart of all law is “do what we say or else violence will be used against you to either punish you or get you to comply.”

This is exactly what happened with the new healthcare law. People like me had their healthcare plan taken away. We were then told to sign up for a new healthcare plan under their terms, or pay a fine. If I do not sign up for a healthcare plan or pay the fine, they will eventually come for my property and wealth. Unlike terrorists, the IRS has money, power, resources, and personnel to make good on their threats.

How is this not terrorism?

Of course, on some matters, such as murder, theft and other crimes involving real victims, this ultimatum is justified. I have the right to threaten violence if someone is threatening me.

But on most matters, government adheres to the very same principle they condemn. Underlying all law is the the threat of violence if demands are not met. As long as you like the law, it is not a problem. But for those who are always in the minority, they obey not out of allegiance but for survival.

In these circumstances, the best that a citizen can do is negotiate to mitigate the harm done.

The idea that the government shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists is ridiculous. They negotiated with the Soviet Union and they’ve negotiated with Iran. Both governments killed or have killed far more than any terrorist group.

To them, it’s all about preserving the “legitimacy of government.” When a terrorist makes a demand, the U.S. will supposedly not cooperate because it is not legitimate. When a violent regime that killed more than the Nazis made demands during the Cuban Missile Crisis, however, they made concessions.

From an anarchist perspective, threats are justified purely on the basis of private property rights. I have the right to make demands on my own property. I do not, however, have the right to demand something of another involving their property, as long as their actions adhere to the Non-Aggression Principle. If I threaten to use violence against my neighbor in order to get him to do what I wish, it is no different morally than a man in a ski mask holding a hostage and threatening to kill them. Or the State enforcing an immoral law.

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