In an op-ed for The Washington Post, former Pentagon official and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie H. Gelb writes that dealing with bad guys is part of the “foreign policy business,” and outlines how to make deals with devils. A real issue: not whether to talk to “Bad Guys”, but how?
“Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman knew well about the sins of the Soviet Union, but they cooperated with the monstrous Joseph Stalin against an even bigger monster, Adolf Hitler. (Winston Churchill was similarly unsentimental: ‘If Hitler invaded Hell,’ he reportedly said, ‘I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.’) President Richard M. Nixon was well aware of the tens of millions killed by Mao Zedong but figured that dealing with the Chinese leader would give him leverage against Moscow. Even Reagan married his condemnation of the Soviets with an all-out effort to negotiate far-reaching arms control agreements with them.”