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Talking with Terrorists: Terrorist Groups and the Challenge of Legitimization

Author(s): Gross, Joshua

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Abstract: When Lebanese voters lined up to vote on June 7, 2009, the Obama administration was unprepared to face the alarming prospect of a Hezbollah-dominated government. The U.S. government remains hamstrung by legal and political obstacles that bar any contact with designated terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. This article examines the hurdles that the United States faces when terrorist groups gain legitimacy through democratic elections. Some terrorism analysts have begun ad vocating engagement of hostile terrorist groups as an element of a successful counterterrorism campaign. Yet, in the case of Lebanon, Hezbollah’s electoral success has not resulted in the degree of behavioral change necessary to make the group a credible candidate for U.S. engagement. Moving forward, the United States should support a process that enables Hezbollah and other terrorist groups to be removed from the terrorist lists should they exhibit consistent and credible progress toward moderation and participation.
Publication Date: 2010
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Public and International Affairs
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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