There are two approaches to terrorists. One is to fight them with every weapon you can -- the military, intelligence services, interdiction of money flows, diplomacy. That is what George W. Bush is doing against the Islamist terrorists who struck Sept. 11. The other way is appeasement. Give the terrorists some of what they want, and hope that they will stop being terrorists any more. That was the approach Bill Clinton took in the 1990s to terrorists in Colombia, Israel and Northern Ireland.
We are often told these days that Bush's fight against terrorism is not going well. So perhaps it's worth looking at how well the other approach to terrorism worked.
Colombia: Clinton supported former Colombian President Andres Pastrana's policy of officially ceding control of a large swathe of territory to the FARC, the 17,000-member guerrilla group that claims to fight for Marxism and is guilty of kidnapping, murder and drug trafficking on a wide scale. But recognition of the FARC did not reduce its criminal activities.
Before the end of his term in 2002, Pastrana reversed his policy. To succeed him, voters chose Alvaro Uribe, who pledged to hunt the terrorists down.
"So far the results are impressive," writes scholar Mark Falcoff of the American Enterprise Institute. "Killings and kidnappings are down, some highways have reopened and a few high-ranking guerrilla leaders have been captured." Uribe's job approval is sky high. The bottom line: Appeasement failed.
Israel. In 1993, Israel accepted the Oslo Accords and entered into negotiations to give up land to Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority. In 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak made the most generous offer ever: more than 97 percent of the occupied territories. Despite Bill Clinton's negotiating skills and flattery (he was invited to the White House more often than any other foreign leader), Arafat turned down the offer and began the Intifada, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Israelis by suicide bombs. Barak was swept from office.
George W. Bush has backed Ariel Sharon's refusal to deal with Arafat and his fence separating Israelis and Palestinians. Most Israelis support the fence, and suicide bombings are way down. The bottom line: Appeasement failed.