The United States of America has had a historical policy that they do not "negotiate with terrorists".

How was brokering a trade of POWs between opposing sides of the War on Terror possible without deviating from this policy?

1 Answer 1


Question assumes that:

  1. Not negotiating with terrorists is an actual policy the U.S. follows (it's not*)

  2. That the standard conventions of war should not be applied to the Taliban (who the U.S. declared war on in 2001), just because the political designation of "terrorist" is in play

I propose that "not negotiating with terrorists" is a political tool to attack opponents more than an actual standard to govern by, and as such isn't suitable to actually adhere to.

  • I am mostly fine with this answer, but "terrorist" is not an arbitrary term, it specifically is used to refer to (usually non-state) actors who engage in targeted attacks against civilians for political purposes. If you remove the word "arbitrary" I might upvote (though I still think the last paragraph is speculative too).
    – Publius
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 2:24
  • 3
    I see your point, in that a terrorist organization is a defined thing (so not technically arbitrary). However, I find the "non-state actor" stipulation a bit convenient. Many actions being taken by nations would certainly qualify as terrorism, except for the fact that it's a government doing the killing. Answer edited appropriately. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 16:50
  • 1
    The term "state terrorism" generally applies to them, but the distinction between NGO terrorists and government terrorists is a useful practical distinction, if not a moral one.
    – Publius
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 22:33

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