Should U.S. Talk to Its Enemies in Middle East? Authors Offer 2 Views

BY Quinn Bowman  March 15, 2010 at 6:07 PM EDT

With Vice President Joe Biden visiting the Middle East recently in hopes of reviving the peace process, we decided to speak with a pair of authors whose latest books on the region made it onto our radar screen here at The Rundown.

Authors Mark Perry and Lee Smith have very different strategies and insights into some of the potential solutions. We realize that there are so many points of view, so many stakeholders and so many historical tensions that exist when discussing this region, so this is only meant to be a beginning of a conversation.

Perry — a military, intelligence and foreign affairs analyst and writer who lives in Arlington, Va. — says the U.S. cannot afford to marginalize Hamas, which it classifies as a terrorist organization. Perry, whose latest book is “Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies,” argues that the U.S. — despite claims to the contrary — speaks with terrorists when it is in its own interest:

The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations” author Lee Smith — a native of New York who lives in Beirut and covers the Middle East for The Weekly Standard — says it would be a “very bad mistake” for the U.S. to open dialogue with Hamas or Hezbollah, saying that you should not give adversaries a leg up at the expense of your regional allies: