The day people who think like this get into power, we’re doomed.
Richardson: It’s very effective to take into account what your enemy is thinking. As we’ve found out, if you don’t try to understand terrorists, you may well just be playing into their hands. A purely military response might only exacerbate the perceived grievances that motivate terror attacks. It’s unbelievable, but the public diplomacy budget of the United States is only two-thirds of one percent of its military budget — even though public diplomacy could be an effective way to combat the impression of the United States as an imperialist power.
Yeah, unbelievable that we don’t use debating teams and Wal-Mart door-greeters to defend our interests at home and abroad from enemies that would use military-level power to attack us.
By the way, since it’s apparently “our image as an imperialist power” that’s driving these wackjob jihadis, how do you explain the bombings and plots in London, Spain and elsewhere?
And then the kicker…
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You’ve mentioned the possibility of setting up talks with groups like al-Qaida. How would such talks be set up?
Richardson: Well, I’m not suggesting that President Bush sit across a table from Osama bin Laden. They would be informal, set up through back channels. These sorts of efforts from the British government were instrumental in the successful resolution of conflict in Northern Ireland. And it’s conspicuously lacking from the United States right now. Talks wouldn’t have to be negotiations. Sometimes diplomacy is just a matter of feeling the other side out, of finding out what they actually want. If we could find splits within the organization of al-Qaida, we could play them off of each other for our benefit, isolating the most radical elements. Some people say that setting up talks with terror groups would grant them too much legitimacy. But, in my view, declaring war on a terror group is actually the most effective way of granting legitimacy.
Finding out what they actually want? They actually want you and me and everyone else to convert to Islam or die…
…oh and don’t forget the total and complete elimination of the state of Israel.
But yeah, we should chat with ‘em sometime. Great idea, ivy league genius.