On Question Time on Thursday a member of the audience suggested that it was now time to sit down with Al Qaeda and negotiate with them because otherwise we will "never know what they want". It provoked a round of applause. Even some politicians have begun recently to say the same thing. This viewpoint is unbelievably naive.
Al Qaeda is not like the IRA. It is not an 'organisation' in the conventional sense that. Who would one actually sit down with? There are so many diverse people who say they belong to Al Qaeda, or who support them that it's just not possible to treat them as a body that has any ability to negotiate.
So before this particular hare starts running, and the peaceniks clearly want it to start running, let's be very clear as to why it can't and won't happen.
The phrase 'war on terror' was perhaps ill judged when it was first uttered by George W Bush in 2001 in the sense that it is a war which will never be wholly won. Terrorism has always existed, and in this age of technology and 24 hour media it will always exist in one form or another. It is a war which the forces of good will never win, in the conventional sense. But it a war which must continue to be fought - and fought vigorously if we cherish our hard won democratic freedoms.