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Why targeted killings are justifiable in fighting 21st-century wars.
From the article: "Fortunately, John Yoo of the Berkeley law school has written a lucid guide to the legal and moral calculus of combating terrorism by targeting significant enemy individuals." John Yoo... John Yoo... Isn't he the author of the "torture memos" which provided the legal rationale and justification for "extreme interrogation"?
The prohibition on assassinations specifically refers to the killing of the leader of a foreign country. Neither bin Laden nor any other member of al Qaeda meets that definition. The targeted attacks on al Qaeda are conducted pursuant to Congressional authorization for the use of force, so its similar to the shooting down of General Yamamoto's plane during WWII.
Targeted attacks by unmanned aircraft sound so surgical and clean, but are not. Inevitably the strikes take the lives of innocents, including women and children. We need to reassess our posture of perpetual combat as the self-appointed enforcer of the existing world order. It appears to be more direct and therefore easier and more effective than diplomacy and compromise. In fact it multiplies our enemies and sows the seeds of our long term defeat by the children or grandchildren of those whom we are killing.
Violence is always the easy shortcut to accomplishing goals - from robbing a bank to murdering a rich uncle. The only difference is who is being murdered and what part of the world it is being perpetrated in.
Targeted killing of enemy leaders in order to accomplish legitimate military goals is sensible. Why kill or destroy more than is absolutely necessary? That said, however, it would seem to Owatonnabill that the efficacy would be dictated by circumstances. Taking out an enemy hated not only by those he is fighting but also by those he oppresses is probably a legitimate way to achieve your objectives. Doing the same thing when that "enemy" leader is the champion of a popular cause most likely not only motivates the enemy but opens the door to probably an unending supply of potential and capable replacements. Such a tactic, depending on the circumstances, decidedly appears to be a double-edged sword.
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