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Debate: Assassination of a Dictator

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Can the assassination of a dictator be justified?

Background and context

Assassination can be defined as the targeted killing of an individual for political reasons in peacetime. It can be undertaken by individual citizens, or by the agents of another state, but in either case it takes place without any legal process.
Assassinating a dictator is often considered in the context of Hitler and Stalin, or of secret CIA action against foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro in the Cold War period (after this became public knowledge in the mid-1970s US Presidents have banned the use of assassination by Executive Order).

However, this issue regained topicality in the 1990s as leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic pursued bloody careers which threatened international peace. In recent years US airstrikes apparently aimed at killing Muammar Qaddafi of Libya (1986), Osama Bin Laden (1998) and Saddam Hussein (1991 and 2003) have provoked argument - were these assassination attempts or did these leaders have the status of enemy combatants in a time of war? Certainly the UN Charter (Article 24) and various conventions (e.g New York Convention) clearly appear to make assassination in peacetime against international law.

The arguments below focus on the issue of assassination of a dictator in peacetime, although many of them would also apply to the specific military targeting of foreign leaders in a time of war. The topic can be debated from the perspective of internal opposition movements seeking to rid their country of dictatorship, or from the perspective of the international community.

Contents

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Regime change: Is assassination a good means to regime change?

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Yes

  • Illegitimate tyrants can be assassinated if it's the only way to freedom If a tyrant comes to power by illegitimate, undemocratic means and directly suppresses, harms, and kills the citizens of a state, that tyrant loses all legitimacy to the continued occupation of office. If it is impossible to depose the leader by more subtle means of opposition and democratic voting, the only route to freedom may be assassination. In such cases, assassination is certainly justifiable.
  • Dictators often uphold regimes alone; assassinating them will end the regime. Dictatorial systems are highly personal, so removing the driving force behind such a regime will result in its collapse, allowing a more popular and liberal government to replace it.


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No

  • Killing dictators will not cause the fall of a regime. Killing one individual will achieve nothing; dictators are part of a wider ruling elite from which someone sharing the same autocratic values will emerge to take their place. This successor is likely to use the assassination as the excuse for further repression.
  • Failed assassination attempts can help strengthen a tyrant. If an attempt is made on the life of a tyrant, one result is that the tyrant will become more paranoid and take measures to strengthen his or her grip on power. Another result is that supporters of the tyrant and fence-straddlers may come out in support and unity behind their leader. This would leave a people worse off as far as deposing their tyrant. Assassination attempts, therefore, entail great risks of back-firing.


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Change: Is assassinating a dictator a good means to affecting change?

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Yes

  • Assassinating a dictator can help correct the behavior of a regime. Assassination of a dictator may be the only way to effect change in a country where a repressive police state prevents any possibility of internal opposition. Cowed populaces need a signal in order to find the courage to campaign for change. If there is no way to bring tyrants guilty of terrorising their own people to justice, then assassination can be justified. And the example elsewhere of assassinated dictators will act as a warning to would be tyrants in future.
  • The alternatives to assassination would all leave a dictator in power for many years. In that time not only will many more people suffer under a repressive system, but the policies pursued by an out-of-touch and unrepresentative regime are likely to do serious (if unintentional) harm to the whole nation and its economy, making eventual rebuilding much more costly in both human and economic terms.


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No

  • Assassination can counter-productively rally citizens around a regime. Assassination is likely to be counter-productive, rallying popular feeling around a repressive regime as external enemies or internal minorities are blamed, rightly or wrongly, for the act. This is even more likely to result from an unsuccessful assassination. Furthermore an alternative now exists for bringing dictators to justice. Regime change has been shown to be possible in a number of countries and former dictators are being held to account for their actions. The Special UN Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia has been able to put Slobodan Milosevic on trial, and Saddam Hussein is facing justice in Iraq. The International Criminal Court now provides a permanent forum for such action to be taken, and is itself a deterrent to would-be tyrants in the future.
  • To liberalize a regime, there are better ways than assassination. Alternatives such as constructive engagement or economic sanctions are preferable and much more likely to result in eventual liberalisation of the regime, albeit slowly. The examples of Eastern Europe in 1989 and Yugoslavia in 2000 show that even in apparently hopeless cases, change can come through popular action, often quickly and without great violence. Cambodia in 1979, Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003 all saw dictatorships quickly overthrown by external forces.
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Morals: Can assassination be justified on moral terms?

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Yes

  • Assassinating a dictator can be a utilitarian good for a society. many deaths and much suffering could be prevented if one man is killed. The greater good demands a single evil act is done, especially if it would avert the immediate and certain danger of much worse evil. Who now wouldn’t wish that Hitler had been killed in 1933?
  • Moral absolutes should not prevent broader morality. If scruples over the morality of our actions prevent us pursuing a greater good, it will never be possible to oppose evil effectively. Dictators themselves ignore normal ethical standards and international conventions, so they effectively place themselves beyond the protection of the law.
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No

  • The idea that assassinations can prevent evils is questionable. The argument that much evil can be prevented by such action is highly questionable. The figurehead of an evil government is not necessarily the lynchpin that holds it together. Thus, if Hitler had been assassinated, it is pure conjecture that the Nazis would have acted any differently to how they did act.
  • Moral absolutes exist; murder can never be justified. If we assume the role of executioner without the backing of law we are sinking down to the level of the dictators. Any new government founded upon such an arbitrary act will lack moral legitimacy, undermining its popular support and making its failure likely. Consider the long civil war in Rome after the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C, or the failure of the British Commonwealth after the execution of Charles I in 1649.
  • Legitimizing assassination cheapens the value of life. By assuming the power to take life arbitrarily, even in an apparently good cause, we cheapen the value of life itself. Many terrorists, criminals, or indeed dictators could and have claimed similar legitimacy for their violent actions. Only if we ourselves respect human rights absolutely, will our promotion of these values seem valid to others. States that use assassination as a political weapon will soon find that others seek to turn it against them.
  • Even tyrants have a right to life, which assassinations violate The right to life is inviolable. It is so important to preserve that we even extend it to tyrants.


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International stability: Can assassination aid international stability?

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Yes

  • Dictators are a threat to international peace, not just their own people. Their tendency to attack other countries in order to divert attention from their unpopular actions at home means that assassination is justified as a means of preventing a terrible war, which might rapidly become a regional or global conflict.



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No

  • Sometimes dictatorship is preferable for international stability. It has often been in the interests of the great powers to support autocrats who would promote their geopolitical interests in a way that a democratic regime would not, especially in the cold war period. Sometimes dictators have successfully held countries together which otherwise might have descended into civil war and ethnic strife. Events in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was deposed have shown that even worse violence and suffering can be unleashed if a strong hand is suddenly removed.
  • Assassinations erode norms against assassination; jeopardizes leaders. One of the reasons that governments decided that they should not assassinate other leaders was that this helped uphold a standard that protects a state's own leaders. If governments attempt to justify some assassinations, these norms are undermined and world leaders become more vulnerable to attempts on their lives.


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International law: Can assassinations of tyrants be justified in international law?

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Yes

  • If tyrants can't be brought to justice, assassination is a good idea. Tyranny and oppression are obvious wherever they take place. It isn’t just how democratic a regime is, it is whether it uses its power to inflict great suffering upon its people or others, against all human rights standards. If leaders guilty of genocide or other crimes against humanity can be brought to account through the normal democratic process or the courts, then fine. But if they cannot, then their people have the moral right to take up arms against them. Sometimes this will mean assassination.


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No

  • Assassinations follow no legitimate legal processes. Assassinations includes only the discretion of security services in deciding to kill a certain individual. This lacks due process process entirely.
  • Decisions on assassinations would be unjustly undemocratic. Who decides who deserves to be assassinated? Politics is not a black-and-white affair and states regarded by some as dictatorships are seen quite differently by others. For example, Slobodan Milosevic could claim a popular mandate for many of his actions in the former Yugoslavia. General Pinochet in Chile seized power by force but later gave it up, allowing a democratic state to emerge. Many authoritarian rulers around the world today pay at least lip service to democracy, even if elections are “managed” and the possibility of real change is strictly limited. Even if we had the right to make judgements as to which leaders deserve to die, our decisions would be arbitrary and without widespread support.
  • Assassination attempts are driven by invalid ideological considerations. By what prerogative would the USA feel itself best placed to decide which democratically elected national leaders should be assassinated? Presumably, such a decision would be based entirely on ideological grounds (as far as the media and the publicj were concerned) and economic grounds (as far as the politicians and their corporate bosses were concerned).
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Sovereignty: Do assassinations uphold the sovereignty in the international system?

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Yes

  • Tyrants forgo sovereign rights, making assassination attempts legitimate Sovereignty is not always inviolable. To the extent that a government acts unjustly, its legitimacy as the sovereign ruler of a state is diminished. A true tyrant may lose all legitimacy to govern his or her state through unjust acts. In such circumstances, the sovereignty of the state (which can only be held by a government or a tyrant) is diminished and it becomes more legitimate to consider assassinations.


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No

  • Assassinations infringe on the sovereignty of foreign political entities. When a foreign government enters the sovereign territory of a state to perform an assassination, they breach the sovereignty of that state.


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Collateral damage: Can assassinations avoid collateral damage? Is it worth it?

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Yes

  • Mistakes and collateral damage from assassinations are worth it Inevitably there will be collateral damage involved in any assassination policy. This need not prevent assassination attempts, as long as it is determined that it is "worth it". If an assassination could, for instance, save tens of thousands of lives, it may be tolerable for ten people to die as collateral damage.


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No

  • Many assassination attempts have heavy collateral, civilian damage.

This argument needs your help.


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Politics: Are assassinations good politics?

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Yes

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No


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Targeted assassinations: Is it appropriate to assassinate terrorist leaders?

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Yes

  • Targeted assassinations disrupt and reduce terrorist attacks Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "II. HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE POLICY OF TARGETED KILLING? There is no question that Israel's policy of targeted killing has hurt the capability of its Arab adversaries to prosecute attacks against Israel. Terrorism is essentially an offensive action, making counter-offensive actions such as targeted killing an especially effective response. It is exceedingly difficult for Israel to defend itself from terror attacks or to deter terror attacks by Palestinians. In terms of defense, there are literally tens of thousands of targets in Israel for Palestinian terrorists. Power stations, government bureaus, bus depots, airports, skyscrapers, open-air markets and sport stadiums—the list is endless. It is impossible to defend them all, especially against a determined adversary that can choose the time and place of attack. Although, as discussed below, some level of deterrence of terrorism is achievable, dissuading potential terrorists is not easy when they are eager to die for their cause. In such situations, the best response to terrorism is to go on a counter-offensive, that is, to eliminate the terrorist threat before it can be launched. One of the most successful means of eliminating terrorists before they can strike is the policy of targeted killing. As alluded to above, Israel has achieved some notable triumphs from its policy of targeted killing. In the 1950s, terrorist infiltration from Egypt lessened as a result of the killing of Egyptian intelligence officers in charge of the operation. In the 1960s, Nasser's plan to build ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel collapsed when his German scientists fled in the wake of Israeli mail bomb attacks. Black September was all but destroyed as a functioning terrorist organization in the 1970s, following the Israeli campaign to avenge the Munich massacre. The 1995 Israeli assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Shikaki in Malta undermined the effectiveness of this group for several years, as successors struggled over policy and power"
  • Targeted assassinations significantly disrupt terrorist organizations Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "from its heightened practice during the second intifada. First, targeted killings have impeded the effectiveness of Palestinian terrorist organizations where leadership, planning, and tactical skills are confined to a few key individuals. There are a limited number of people who have the technical ability to make bombs and plan attacks. If these people are eliminated, the ability to mount attacks is degraded. There is some evidence that targeted killings have reduced the performance of Palestinian operations. The large number of intercepted suicide bombers (Israelis estimate they stop over 80 percent of attempts) and poorly planned attacks (e.g. suicide bombers who appear with wires sticking out of their bag or detonations that occur with little loss of life) indicates that there are problems either with the organization of the operations or those available to carry them out. There are individual leaders whose charisma and organizational skills keep a group together. If they are eliminated, they are not easily replaced. Shikaki of the Islamic Jihad falls into this category."
  • Targeted assassinations keep terrorists on-the-run and distracted. Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "Another clear benefit of targeted killing is keeping would-be bombers and bomb makers on the run. When the Israelis informed the Palestinian Authority who they were after, this information was often passed to the targeted individuals so that they knew they were being hunted. Some voluntarily chose to place themselves in Palestinian custody to avoid being slain. The threat they posed to Israel was consequently diminished. There are numerous accounts of others on the "hit" list taking precautions against being killed such as sleeping in a different location every night and not letting others know of their whereabouts.19 Even for those Palestinians who have not been told they are being hunted, the very possibility they might be targeted is likely to cause a change in behavior. Time and effort undertaken to avoid Israeli dragnets are time and effort not undertaken to plan or carry out operations against Israel."
  • Targeted assassinations have a deterrent effect on would-be terrorists. Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "Targeted killing also acts as a deterrent. In one sense, it appears virtually impossible to deter people willing and even eager to lose their life. But behind every suicide bomber are others who might not be as ready for martyrdom. The large number of Palestinian commanders who surrendered meekly to Israeli forces during the large-scale military incursions in the spring of 2002 lends support to the notion that many senior officials do not wish to die for their cause. It is also reasonable to assume that there are skilled, capable Palestinians who do not engage in terrorist operations for fear of Israeli reprisals. Most important, there is strong evidence that the policy of targeted killing hurts Palestinian organizations to the extent to which they are willing to alter their behavior. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with three Palestinian leaders (though not Yasir Arafat) on January 30, 2002. When Sharon asked the Palestinians what they wanted from him, first on their list was an end to targeted killings.20 Islamic Jihad and Hamas agreed to refrain from launching attacks in pre-1967 Israel in December 2001 so long as Israel refrained from killing its leaders. Although the cease-fire eventually broke down, their willingness to abide by the cease-fire, even temporarily, indicates the deterrent power of targeted killing."
  • Assassinations protect publics from terrorism; even while it's hard to measure. Gal Luft. "The Logic of Israel's Targeted Killing". Middle East Quarterly. Winter 2003 - "What is less obvious to the critics is the number of attacks that have been thwarted through the masterminds' removal. "Ticking bomb," a well-known term in counterterrorism jargon, refers to a terrorist or a group of terrorists in the process of launching an attack. Killing the perpetrator or his dispatcher stops the clock. The Karmi assassination was undertaken to prevent him from carrying out his plans, which included the assassination of a prominent Israeli. ‘Umar Sa‘adah, the head of the Hamas military wing in Bethlehem, killed in July 2001, was planning a major attack at the closing ceremony of the Maccabiah Games, the Jewish olympics. [16] At the time of his assassination, Salah Shihada was in the process of organizing a "mega-attack" of six terror operations that were to take place simultaneously.[17] Nobody will ever know the scope of the bloodbath that was prevented by thwarting these attempts. These acts never made headlines; they constitute the silent terror—the terror that never happened. [...]Fighting terror is like fighting car accidents: one can count the casualties but not those whose lives were spared by prevention. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Israelis go about their lives without knowing that they are unhurt because their murderers met their fate before they got the chance to carry out their diabolical missions. This silent multitude is the testament to the policy's success."
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No

  • Assassinating terrorists only breeds greater resentment and terrorism Gal Luft. "The Logic of Israel's Targeted Killing". Middle East Quarterly. Winter 2003 - "Although Israel has gained more sympathy abroad for its tactic since September 11, not all Israelis are entirely convinced that the method is worth pursuing. Critics of the "selective targeting" policy point out its self-destructive aspect. After each targeting, the Palestinians promise—and in most cases deliver—a hard and painful response. Assassination victims are automatically hailed as martyrs, and vengeful Palestinian admirers of the deceased volunteer to take his place. Following ‘Ayyash's death, Arafat publicly proclaimed him a martyr and a hero; streets in Palestinian cities were named after him; and a wave of suicide bombings resulted in fifty-nine dead and 250 wounded Israelis. Following the January 2001 assassination of the Fatah leader in Tulkarem, Ra'd Karmi, the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for attacks that took the lives of fifty-seven Israelis. Hizbullah is also a vindictive organization. ‘Abbas Musawi's killing was soon followed by the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina. The price was heavy: twenty-nine killed and 242 wounded."
  • Assassinations create martyrs and increase popularity of terrorist groups. Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "Inasmuch as becoming a victim of an Israeli targeted killing has become a badge of honor among Palestinians, when the Israelis slay an alleged terrorist they unwittingly enhance the popularity of the organization to which he or she belonged. Many of the targets of Israel's attacks have come from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These organizations then exploit their casualties in a manner designed to curry support among the Palestinian people. With public opinion polls showing skyrocketing approval of these groups, their efforts appear to be succeeding. In an effort to compete with Hamas and Jihad's success, Arafat's organizations dramatically stepped up their own terrorist attacks in 2002. A competition developed as to which group could launch the most costly attacks against Israel. The policy of targeted killing, by affording prestige to those planning and committing these attacks, has encouraged that which it most seeks to deter."
  • There is no evidence that assassinations effectively reduce terrorism. Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "The Limited Effectiveness of Targeted Killing There are also strong arguments that targeted killing is an ineffective and even harmful policy for Israel to follow. No compelling evidence exists that targeted killing has reduced the terrorist threat against Israel. By May 2002, after eighteen months of targeted killings carried out at an unprecedented scale, the number of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror had reached an all-time high of nearly 500. It is, of course, always possible to assert that the number of Israeli deaths would have been even greater if not for the targeted killing. But this is an unfalsifiable proposition that is based more on faith than on reasoned analysis. It is not difficult to understand why targeted killing has not been effective in stopping terrorism. Political entities promoting terror against Israel such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority are very decentralized. They are made up of many cells, the destruction of some having little or no impact on others. Moreover, the number of young men (and women) who are willing and eager to be suicide bombers appears to be virtually limitless. Outfitting these martyr wannabes with primitive bombs capable of wreaking murderous assaults appears to be relatively easy—at least within the capability of many Palestinians who the Israelis have not yet killed. No greater evidence of the failure of Israeli policy exists than the dramatic escalation of terrorist attacks and Israeli casualties in the first half of 2002, after more than a year of targeted killings."
  • Targeted assassinations can damage the intelligence gathering of a state. Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "The policy of targeted killing also hurts Israel's security by damaging the effectiveness of its intelligence organizations. By diverting scarce resources away from the collection and analysis of intelligence on the threat posed by adversarial states, Israel runs the risk of paying less attention to existential threats in order to combat critical but less than vital challenges to its security. Following the Munich Olympics massacre, Israel focused much of the attention of its intelligence services on tracking down and killing the perpetrators. This effort may have led, in part, to diverting Israel's attention away from the growing threat posed by Egypt and Syria, which led to Israel being caught by surprise at the outbreak of the October 1973 War.25 Even where the effect is not so dramatic, targeted killing can hurt Israel's ability to gather critical intelligence. Locating and killing key Palestinian terrorists requires timely intelligence, much of which can only be supplied by informers. Given that a limited number of people will know the whereabouts of the targets, it will not be difficult to isolate those who have collaborated with Israel. Increasing reports of informers being killed during the second intifada, with their bodies publicly displayed, may partly be a result of their identities becoming known as a result of the targeted killing policy."
  • Life imprisonment better punishes a terrorist than assassination (martyrdom). "Do We Have a License to Kill?" BBC, Talking Points, John Mitko, Spain. June 18 2002 - "War means death. Having presumably carried out the attacks on the USA Bin Laden has also presumably accepted the risk of personal retribution, and as he is living in a war zone he is increasing the odds against him of surviving the current attacks. His personal, religious desire is, presumably, to die defending Islam and reach paradise. However he dies - in war or by assassination - he will be content. On this basis it would be better to capture him and put him on trial. Then if he was handed a life sentence, it would humiliate him by denying him the ultimate penalty. The US armed forces probably have a better record of effectiveness than the CIA. It would be better to leave the special forces and the SAS to carry out the job."
  • Targeted assassinations undermine norms of warfare in terrorists' favor Steven R. David. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing". John Hopkins University. September 2002. - "Insofar as Israel erodes the norm of assassination, it transforms the rules of conflict in a manner that benefits its most fervent adversaries. It is of course true that norms do not determine behavior. Terrorists, almost by definition, are not constrained by established norms. The long history of plane hijackings and other murderous attacks against innocent civilians by terrorists throughout the world gives brutal testimony to their willingness to violate established codes of conduct. In confronting this challenge, states have also had to depart from usual norms. Terrorists typically do not appear in identifiable uniforms or hold clear swaths of territory, making conventional responses to their threats all but impossible. Insofar as Israel (and other states) make war on terror, traditional norms of combat will have to be eroded no matter what the long-term implications may be. Nevertheless, when a major regional power and democracy such as Israel openly proclaims its right to pursue a policy of targeted killing, it helps to create a new standard of behavior that may work to its and other states detriment. Norms may not be determinative, but neither are they irrelevant. Rather than simply disregarding norms because they interfere with its war on terror, Israel needs to act in a way that preserves its right of self-defense without bringing about future harm to itself and to the international community."


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Israel: Is Israel's policy of "targeted assassination" justified?

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Yes



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No

  • Assassinating terrorists only breeds greater resentment and terrorism Gal Luft. "The Logic of Israel's Targeted Killing". Middle East Quarterly. Winter 2003 - "Although Israel has gained more sympathy abroad for its tactic since September 11, not all Israelis are entirely convinced that the method is worth pursuing. Critics of the "selective targeting" policy point out its self-destructive aspect. After each targeting, the Palestinians promise—and in most cases deliver—a hard and painful response. Assassination victims are automatically hailed as martyrs, and vengeful Palestinian admirers of the deceased volunteer to take his place. Following ‘Ayyash's death, Arafat publicly proclaimed him a martyr and a hero; streets in Palestinian cities were named after him; and a wave of suicide bombings resulted in fifty-nine dead and 250 wounded Israelis. Following the January 2001 assassination of the Fatah leader in Tulkarem, Ra'd Karmi, the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for attacks that took the lives of fifty-seven Israelis. Hizbullah is also a vindictive organization. ‘Abbas Musawi's killing was soon followed by the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina. The price was heavy: twenty-nine killed and 242 wounded."
  • Assassinations breed destabilizing counter-assassination attempts Whenever one country or groups attempts to assassinate the leader of another group, the door is opened wide for counter-assassination attempts. One assassination attempt makes it much more politically legitimate for a group to respond in-kind with an assassination attempt of their own. Because it is easier politically, it becomes more likely.


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Hitler: Would if have been justifiable to assassinate Adolf Hitler?

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Yes


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No

  • The British considered assassinating Hitler to be "unsportsman-like".
  • Hitler lead to Germany's downfall. Hitler's string of bad judgments, most notably his choice to invade Russia, severely weakened Germany and led to its eventual destruction. Assassinating him would mean he would be replaced by a more competent leader, making it harder for Germany to be subdued by the Allies.
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Saddam Hussein: Was there good reason to support assassinating Saddam Hussein?

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Yes


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No

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Hugo Chavez: Were any calls for assassinating Hugo Chavez justified?

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Yes

  • The US would be justified in assassinating Hugo Chavez "Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's president". Media Matters for America. August 22nd, 2005 - "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."



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No

  • Chavez should not be assassinated as he poses no real military threat. The idea that Chavez should be assassinated because of an unsubstantiated threat that he represents to the military complex that is the USA is devoid of any value whatsoever. Chavez represents no danger at all to the USA - any conflict between them would be not be on a level playing field!
  • If Chavez should be assassinated, what about President Bush (an international threat) I assume that we would have to abandon any ethical viewpoints on this. In other words, moral equivalence would not be considered. Foreign nations would not be allowed to assassinate the president of the USA because of the (rather more evident) threat that he poses to national and international security.
  • Assassinating Chavez would be based only on US hegemony. The argument that Chavez - and any other political leader who stands up and faces down US hegemony - should be assassinated is predicated on the rather base belief that as the USA is currently the most powerful military complex on the planet, it should be allowed to decide who lives and who dies. In fact, if we are being more precise, we should say that as the most powerful interests in the USA are in command of the most powerful military complex on the planet, they should be allowed to decide who lives and who dies in the pursuit of consolidation and extension of their privileges.


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US law: Are assassinations allowable according to US law?

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Yes

  • Ford's 1976 executive order against assassinations doesn't apply in war-time. In War-Time, including in extended conflicts with terrorists entities, the use of assassination can be legitimate, particularly if the target is considered a "combatant".
  • The 1976 executive order does not forbid assassinating terrorist leaders. Ford's executive order did not account for terrorists and "enemy combatants".


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No


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Public opinion: Where does the public stand on this issue?

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Yes


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No

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Pro/con resources

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Yes


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No

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