Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes

The world has never been as dangerous as it is now. Rogue regimes—governments and groups which eschew diplomatic normality, sponsor terrorism, and proliferate nuclear weapons—challenge the United States around the globe. The American response of first resort is to talk with such rogues. Case studies examining the history of American diplomacy with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Pakistan demonstrate that problems with both strategies do not make engagement with rogue regimes a cost-free option. Moral equivalency enables, indeed often infuses, the argument in favor of negotiation with terrorists. Seldom do diplomats ask why their strategy toward rogues has failed, and whether their basic assumptions about how they conduct such talks might be to blame. Rogue leaders understand that the West rewards bluster with incentives, and that for the State Department, the process of holding talks is often deemed more important than results.

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