Originally Answered: Should we be talking to the enemy as the Brits are proposing?
Talking to the enemy? You mean the American people? The Brits aren't proposing that, are they?
The US is no good at diplomacy. Nobody wants our capitalism, our lack of civil liberty we call 'freedom'. The dark world of the Realists, that they used to scare the population into weapons funding, has worked all too well. It is within this world that neither political party disagrees. Neither poses any principled opposition to a rogue Executive; both support the ends, and don't mention the obvious, the fait accompli, the withdrawal of the weapons inspectors (Scott Ritter, Hans Blix, etc) and the invasion of the oil fields of the former British oil colony they named Iraq. The US doesn't ahve the knack for diplomacy. Fact is, after the US gets ahold of liberty and democracy and rule of law, nobody else in the rest of the world wants much to do with it. Not one other nation in our 225 year history has any other nation willingly adopted our style of government. Most choose the far more democratic republicanism of proportional representation, rule closer to consensus. Such failure by the ruling class to broaden civil liberties, and in their unwavering pattern of opting for order over justice (ably assisted by their 'liberal press' lap-dogs) is not a coincidence or by accident.
A Police State is much more to the liking of American business elites, The billions of tax money supporting over 750 (many quite lavish by US standards) military bases in practically all of the countries on the planet, is a colonial military empire. When anyone is a potential dissident, everyone is suspect. The huge sums poured through the Pentagon and supporting all of those bases have NOTHING to do with the the defense of the US. But if you're a Realist, you live in a world that assumes anarchy, and the worst nature of man. Certainly, man is capable of great evil, but that does not exhaust man's abilities or drives. But as a capitaist, all resources must have price tags, and available for sale to the highest bidder. Everything becomes as a commodity. Everything will have its price, even Justice.
The US maintains, at tremendous expense, a military Keynes-ian system, which socializes the cost of weapons research, and earns income through the fomenting and arming of allies and officail enemies alike. After all for the Realist, it's win-win-win. War is good for business; Surplus people are dying, making fewer people after the scarce resources; The ruling class keeps the important spending decisions of the Republic secret, under the cloak of 'executive privalege' or 'national security'. Let's not forget that the CIA is a branch of the Executive and serves at the direction of the President. We are mistakenly given the impression by the liberal media that the CIA is some kind of rogue organization, when it is not. It makes no decisions, only supplying information and formulating 'plans' as the President may direct. When the American people are successfully convince that there are dangerous drug lords and tyrants (spontaneously generating in that tropical climate, it would seem) in the aftermath of the Monroe Doctrine, where no other foreign power can be blamed, that inconvenient fact is quickly forgetten. How quick the US intelligencia was to point the finger at the former USSR for the state of their former Republics. No criticism can be found in the liberal media for even worse conditions in the US's vassal banana republics with US-trained and financed death squads, torture instructors from Georgia's School of the Americas to indoctinate and train foreign quislings to act as another nations' prison guards for the Masters in the North. The colonels must be wined and dined, and be at the ready in case the officer corps are needed to effect a military coup in case the puppet leader gets too big for his britches, and shows signs of independence. The US master's CIA and State Dept., the mailed fist of the Pentagon, will have none of it, always at the ready. Ways less obvious, ways more subtle against the real enemy, the domestic population, are used to keep us distracted from such things. We argue Republican or Democrat, and meanwhile the theives have already left the building. The ruling class just sends in the clowns. Forget that the money that could be going to provide everyone a decent life in the so-called greatest country on earth. Forget that the reason your roads are awful and you have no healthcare or pay the world's highest prices for medicine. Forget that our cities falling apart, that our poor are poorer, our rich are richer, and comprise a smaller percentage than corrected for by population. Forget that we spent millions and billions on things whose sole purpose is to kill or threaten to kill. Other than that, it is pure wasted money.
Getting atop the oil in Iraq to shut off the supply makes good strategic and economic sense. It allows the US to disregard the old contracts with Germany and France, and control the strategic resource. Notice how the US has turned off the spigot to raise oil prices. The fact is, there has been an oil glut for a very long time now, but since the 1970s, the oil corps have 'wisely' not built any refineries, so the 'scarcity' results in higher prices. Why should the US want higher oil prices? Because the value of the US dollar is based on petroleum, and when the price of oil rises, the value of the dollar rises. Any capitalist empire must control strategic resources, that's the key to state military capitalism, the socialized kind we have in the US, at any rate. The State Dept.'s job is to forestall negotiations, and accuse the enemy du jour of being 'unrealistic', when I'd bet the opposite is really the case. The US is surrounding China with bases, and Iran is next. It also will allow for a shorter pipeline for UnoCal. Win-win.
The US is reaching the limits of its support for the military. Social needs have gone unmet for decades, sacrificed first on the altar of anti-communism, now on the altar of anti-terrorism. Both parties administrations, when faced with the necessity of budget cuts, cut the social programs, and maintain or increase Pentagon spending. This has had a significant eroding effect over time, which again, is no accident.
So, final answer, no the US should not talk to its enemies. It's a charade, and everyone knows it. The US is going to do what the US wants to do, and will manufacture and believe all the evidence it can.