Talking to the Enemy – Some thoughts on what that means


  1. Lombardi, B.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN)
Talking to an enemy in wartime is, generally speaking, an essential component of any strategy. That statement is applicable in most conventional wars and insurgencies alike. There are cases of counter-insurgencies in earlier eras that were crushed by extreme military measures, but the strategies that underwrote those campaigns are viewed as extreme today and are most likely politically unsustainable. But, if talking to an enemy is inevitable it is also fraught with dangers, for both parties will seek to advance their objectives through such contact - negotiations being, on occasion, just as effective an instrument of war as armed force. The recent call for negotiations with so-called moderates in the Taliban are, therefore, not unexpected and should not be regarded as the equivalent of a declaration of failure by the countries involved in military operations in Afghanistan. If carefully implemented, and with a clear understanding of the socio-political environment in that country, a more determined effort at talking with the enemy and his supporters could well prove to be the harbinger of a more effective counter-insurgency strategy.
Report Number
DRDC-CORA-TN-2009-012 — Technical Note
Date of publication
01 May 2009
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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