Have to talk to Hezbollah

Letter published by the Toronto Star

Re: Outspoken Liberal MP exits foreign critic post – Aug. 24.

The recent flap over a Liberal MP’s suggestion that Canada should be encouraging a dialogue with Hezbollah is very unfortunate.

The rationale that one should never talk to a militant group is flawed and part of the verbal arsenal of the neo-con assault on common sense.

No one can dispute that Hezbollah is part and parcel of the 1.4 million Lebanese in southern Lebanon and its formation is the direct result of the political aspirations of the Lebanese Shia.

If we want to discourage a group from pursuing its political goals through violence, what better way than talking to it about its political goals. By not talking, the only avenue left open for grassroots political aspirations is violence.

Britain talked to the Irish Republican Army, Russia talks to the Chechens and even Israel has had several negotiations with Hezbollah. Even the Bill Clinton administration negotiated with Al Qaeda types in Bosnia. Russia does talk to Hezbollah, and can be used as an intermediary.

Refusing to talk to a genuine, though sometimes violent, political group is forcing it to further violence. How else do we deal with them? Kill them all, or hope they will be intimidated? That is playing directly into the neo-con view of the world.

And for a Canadian MP to have to resign a post over suggesting dialogue, is indeed a sad day for Canada.

Akber Choudhry, Toronto