Can we gain anything by negotiating with our enemies? In the latest issue of Middle East Quarterly, Elan Journo reviews Michael Rubin’s book Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes, which strongly suggests that the answer is: No.

What can diplomatic engagement with so-called rogue regimes achieve? According to the established view, even fruitless talks allow diplomats to learn about an adversary, which can, in turn, yield useful results. But the evidence, cogently laid out by Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, tells another, and disastrous, story. Rubin exposes such received wisdom as complacently wrongheaded, presenting multiple case studies involving (among others) Libya under Qaddafi, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Iran, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and North Korea.


Engaging rogues, Rubin demonstrates, harms U.S. interests by granting undeserved legitimacy and, in many cases, financial payouts to hostile regimes and groups. The Islamic Republic of Iran epitomizes this problem: Decades of diplomatic overtures have emboldened this sponsor of terrorism and would-be nuclear power.

Read the whole review here.