Is assassination an acceptable tool for government to use to prevent war or deal with its enemies?
If not, how far do you feel Government should be allowed to go in order to defend its interests as it deems necessary.?
I would say that after a declared war had commenced it would be acceptable to assassinate a leader if the assassination was likely to result in a serious detrimental effect on the enemies ability to wage war, and thus shorten the conflict. Equally the killing of Reynardt Heydrich during the second world war was acceptable because he was instrumental in implementing mass persecutions. All such killing should be decided on an individual basis, and all should have clearly understood justification.
Yes in war there are no limitations to what a country can do to the other. I don't agree with it but that's what going to happen if the government feels as if it's necessary.
Do I agree with war? Absolutely not but it will always exist. No matter what no one will ever stop the presence of war.
If assassination is acceptable then, we are eliminating any limits to the way we act; to our morals and conduct. Thus, road-side bombs and suicide bombers will become acceptable as well.
Good Day Jaggedfrost
Let me start by saying that you ask the best questions on this Q&A forum. I noted your complaint, before, - which I fully agree with - about the spam questions that are "ill conceived at best." We weren't the only ones to recognize this, of course. I believe dabeaner said something a bit more unsparing about the "abyssmal intelligence" indicated in the formulation of these questions.
Anyway, this is an interesting question which has its roots in 1947 with the Truman administration. His signing of the National Security Act in 1947 created the CIA, FBI, etc., and brought about the apparatus of what is called the national security state. This apparatus was crucial in waging The Cold War against the Soviet Union.
After the close of World War II the new enemies were the Soviet communists. The U.S. was no longer interested in hunting down escaped Nazis. In fact, we know that the United States used former Nazi war criminals as spies against the Soviets. For this reason, among many others, there are many people who regard that National Security Act of 1947, as a period in which America took an unfortunate turn in which so much more energy was invested in security, watching out for the next threat.
There is an excellent PBS documentary I would refer you to, made by Bill Moyers. Its available on the web and its called The Secret Government (1987). When you ask if assassination an acceptable tool for the United States to use against its enemies, it goes to a larger question about the legitimacy of the national security state.
Do we need the national security state apparatus? If so, why? I won't propose an "answer" here, just another question, I'm afraid.
See ya around.
I was asking this question as a public acid test for whether it is a subject that the people should hold the governments of the world accountable for. I don't deny and would be foolish to do so that such things happen and might be policy somewhere.
OF COURSE IT IS! One life to save many. The greater good.
Unfortunately my views on war are a little.... unusual. So I sort of agree with it. But in any case it is inevitable that we, as humans will massacre many of our kind. It is the basis for human nature, survival of the fittest.
Mr. Happy says:
"If assassination is acceptable then, we are eliminating any limits to the way we act; to our morals and conduct. Thus, road-side bombs and suicide bombers will become acceptable as well"
Well... if we accept it we are actually confining the limits to the way we act. It is better to kill one person than to slay many in a battle which could have been avoided. And yes road-side bombs etc. are acceptable, Look at it from the 'terrorists' view (I assume u mean terrorists). They believe they are doing this for their cause which they deem to be good. Their Bombs, though I disagree with them completely, are acceptable and are their version of an assassination.
No single person can end a war through their death. But as Christopheranton said, it could possibly shorten the length of the war and thus reduce the casualties incurred.
Assassination targets, should and are evaluated on their importance within an organisation, their ability to cause harm, and their ability to serve better in death than in life.
So to conclude, yes it is acceptable depending on who you target. But remember, it goes both ways....
I don't think there is a blanket answer to this question. On the one hand, assassinations carried out by the old Soviet Union, Iraq, North Korea and similar national governments against dissidents (including dissidents living abroad) have drawn justified condemnation from basically the entire world. Such assassinations did not 'prevent any wars,' but they certainly 'dealt' with the 'enemies' of those regimes. So assassination can be a tool of political oppression and repression worth of the most vigorous condemnation.
On the other hand, had the French government assassinated Hitler in, say, 1930, I'd find it hard to muster the tiniest smidge of indignation. (Though in the context of the day, there surely would have been quite a bit of it, had the fact become public knowledge.)
I'm not aware of a real-world example of such an assassination, though. Few cases offer quite so much moral clarity.
Assassinations during wartime are also arguably more justifiable--and are certainly more common. Already mentioned is the assassination of Heydrich by British commandos (which resulting in truly savage reprisals by the Nazis); Admiral Yamamoto's assassination (via specifically-intended combat operation) was ordered by Roosevelt and carried out by Army pilots flying P-38 Lightnings. British commandos also tried to kill Erwin Rommel, the "Desert Fox," but did not get him.
Returning to the main question, I'd put the death of Anwar Awlaki in the same category, though some have argued that since there was no actual war in Yemen, his killing wasn't actually carried out in the context of combat. That seems excessively legalistic to me; Awlaki was pretty clearly a traitor engaged in active hostilities against his government and his fellow citizens, and was operating in a quasi-failed state characterized by political chaos and pervasive lawlessness. He could not be arrested and tried, and his death seems to me to be justified as part of the struggle against Al Qaeda.
I think that it is difficult and dangerous to make a definitive response to a hypothetical question with grave ramifications.
There is no correct answer to this question. Would I have ordered a hit on Hitler if I were in a position to do so? I think so. Gaddafi, I'm not so sure. I'd like to have seen him go to trial. Same with Bashar al-Assad.
Ask whether it is ever right and just to kill. Does it matter whether it is on a field of battle far removed from you or it is the person who is raping your mother or driving an icepick into your sister's jugular?
Does it matter if you are a sideline citizen second-guessing the chief executive or the president who is trying to do what he sees as the greatest good for the greatest number?
Thomas Hardy's "The Man He KIlled" is illuminating on the subject.
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