There is of course a world of difference between keeping channels open with terrorist groups and giving in to their demands. In the past, Northern Ireland, Palestine and others have seen the former terrorist come within the fold and actually have some share of power over some regions.
It appears that Tony Blair is not averse to keeping communication channels open with terrorist groups. He had previously wanted to hold talks with the IRA Army Council, to keep the Northern peace talks on track. Now one of his senior aides, Jonathan Powell, is calling for the UK to start talks with Al-Queda. Although the Government is rejecting the calls to keep communication open with Al Queda. But the Security Minister Lord West says not talking is silly.
So who is right? One thing we're constantly hearing from Al-Queda seems to be that they hold a grudge that the West does not understand them. Surely to reach some understanding both of the wests leaders to them and vice versa is to have some sort of conversation going.
Who would ever have thought that Ian Paisley would ever have sat down with Sinn Fein, or that Nelson Mandela could reach and agreement with the National Party or that the PLO would ever have reached an agreement with Isreal. Admittedly that conversation still needs to be ongoing to resolve things but they all started to reach some sort of conclusion by diplomacy.
Our government seems to by rejecting the sensible call to talks taking an altogether gung-ho attitude, that is alien to the great triumphs of British history. Yes there have been times that war has been used, but all the time there was a hope of negotiation to resolve things, often with furtive meetings behind the scenes.
Maybe the government is calling our bluff. However, judging on current performance I doubt that, they just haven't got the poker face to do so.