Powell (Great Hatred, Little Room), U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s onetime chief of staff and a leader in the U.K. government’s successful negotiations with the Irish Republican Army, takes readers to the front lines of secret talks between terrorists and governments throughout the world. Adept at refuting arguments for why governments should not talk to terrorists, Powell convincingly asserts that all armed groups with “significant political support” must be talked to, and that governments often wait too long to do so and erroneously prioritize military responses instead. Drawing on both the successes (Northern Ireland, South Africa, El Salvador) and failures (Sri Lanka, Colombia, the post–Oslo Accords Middle East) of the past 20 years, Powell finds a “remarkable pattern” to what works. He highlights the traits of a good negotiator (patience, flexibility, a “high tolerance for ambiguity”) and the necessary steps: making contact, starting negotiations, building trust, and closing a deal. Along the way, he vividly recreates the subterranean world of secret talks, depicting presidents, leaders of armed groups, and intermediaries in remote jungles, farmhouses, and huts around the globe. Powell probes the origins of terrorism (a term first coined during the French Revolution) and studies the effects of the International Criminal Court and the Patriot Act on present-day negotiations. Thoughtful, comprehensive, and illuminating, Powell’s book will leave readers with a renewed sense of hope for peace.
Powell, Jonathan. 2015. Terrorists at The Table: Why Negotiating is the Only Way to Peace. London: Palgrave Macmillan. http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-06988-7