ON-Lion Letter
The world has never been as dangerous as it is now.  Rogue regimes -- governments and groups that eschew diplomatic normality, sponsor terrorism, and proliferate nuclear weapons -- challenge the United States around the globe.  The American response of first resort is to talk.  "It never hurts to talk to enemies."  Seldom is conventional wisdom so wrong, according to Michael Rubin 's Dancing with the Devil:  The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes, newly released in paperback by Encounter Books.

A former Pentagon official, Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School.

While it is true that sanctions and military force come at high cost, Rubin's case studies in Dancing with the Devil examining the history of American diplomacy with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Taliban's Afghanistan, and Pakistan demonstrate that problems with both strategies do not necessarily make engagement with rogue regimes cost-free.

Terrorist groups also challenge traditional diplomacy, Rubin writes, be they the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1970s and 1980s, or Hamas and Hezbollah in the last two decades.  Moral equivalency often infuses the willingness to talk to terrorists -- after all, as many diplomats note, one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter -- but seldom is the record of talking to terrorists considered.  While soldiers spend weeks developing lessons learned after every exercise, seldom do diplomats consider why their strategy toward rogues have failed, and whether base assumptions about how they conduct talks might be to blame.

Indeed, Dancing with the Devil helps prove, rogue regimes have one thing in common:  they pretend to be aggrieved in order to put Western diplomats on the defense.  Whether in Pyongyang, Tehran, or Islamabad, rogue leaders understand that the West rewards bluster with incentives, and that for the State Department, process can mean more than results.

The paperback version is updated and contains a new preface by the author.

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as is AEI.

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