Round 3. Airspoon v KrazyJethro: Assassination

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posted on Dec, 12 2010 @ 12:30 PM
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The topic for this debate is "Assassination is a legitimate policy instrument for governments.”

Airspoon will be arguing the "Pro" position and begin the debate.
KrazyJethro will be arguing the "Con" position.

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posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 11:48 PM
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I would first like to give a quick thanks to all who are making this debate possible. Without all of you, my opponent and I surely wouldn't have this fantastic opportunity to throw around this seemingly controversial subject, in an effort to finally reach the bottom of it.

As for my opponent "KrazyJethro", I wish you good luck and may the better argument win. Our debate topic, "Assassination is a legitimate policy instrument for governments", to which I will be arguing the pro side, should be more than interesting. Government sponsored assassinations are something that I have pondered for many years, even voicing my opinion from time to time, so I'm looking forward to chewing on this topic in a debate setting. I sure hope the reader will have as much enjoyment reading this debate, as I do participating in it.

In this debate, I plan on arguing the legalities of certain types of assassinations, along with any potential and practical benefits that such an action could and does provide for society. I also plan on going back through history and pointing out the more successful assassinations and assassination programs or policies that have not only benefitted society and beat back oppression, but also shaped the modern world around us, ultimately saving a countless number of lives in the process. In addition to the above, I plan on arguing a philosophical angle to underscore my point. Just to be clear, I'm not arguing for any government to have free reign and liberty to assassinate at will. On the contrary, as I will only be arguing the assassinations that have been calculated to provide the most reward for the least risk and of which are within the law.

Obviously, some assassinations aren't legitimate, though some certainly are. However, not only are some assassinations legitimate, but they are also sometimes necessary and more often beneficial. For the sake of this debate, I won't be arguing for government sponsored assassinations that are illegal, such as those committed domestically, against American citizens (who are afforded due process of law under the Constitution) or against democratically elected government officials for the purposes of personal gain or ulterior agendas, as opposed to issues of national security. In other words, while clandestine or nefarious assassinations may not be legitimate (illegitimate), other forms of assassination certainly are, such is the case with targeting enemy civilian and military leadership, along with confirmed Al Qaeda members. To suggest that any and all government sponsored assassinations are illegitimate, is to also suggest that enemy military and civilian leadership should not be targeted, which would of course create a severe disadvantage to our projected influence in foreign policy.

Sometimes, assassinations can prevent a wider conflict and severely limit collateral damage or even unnecessary military deaths. In fact, MACV Directive 381-4 explains it best as a "rifle shot rather than a shotgun approach" to neutralizing enemy targets. Sometimes, a simple assassination can garner the same results as an entire war, where the benefits to an assassination become acutely obvious. Other times, assassinations can give an advantage to a war already being waged, giving a decisive edge to the side with the vigor to conduct such an operation. We can look at our own revolutionary war for instance, where the assassination of British military officers is arguably what helped the rag-tag band of American rebels defeat the most advanced and powerful military force on the planet at that time.

Of course, some may argue that government-sponsored assassination programs are ripe for abuse and that may very well be the case, but the reader should ask him or herself if anything lacks the potential for, or is immune to abuse. Of course not, as there is a potential for abuse in just about every policy set by government and in fact, even the government itself is ripe for abuse. In my opinion, it is a "no-brainer" that sometimes, assassination is the most logical, beneficial and justifiable choice, so long as we confine this type of action to established law.


My five Socratic questions:

1. Do you agree that if Hitler would have been assassinated before the Nazis kicked off their campaign of conquest in the late 1930's, at the very least the European front to WWII could have been avoided, thus millions of innocent civilian deaths averted? If not, please explain.

2. Do you agree that war should only be conducted as a last resort, thus all possible actions that could avert war, to include assassination, should be exhausted? If not, how could a war where many people die, be better than an assassination where only one or a handful of people die?

3. How do you suppose that we, as a country, should deal with certain threats that prove too illusive for conventional methods of neutralization?

4. If a leader threatens to deploy his army against our country and that deployment could be stopped with a strike against only that leader, would it not be more beneficial for society to take advantage of such a strike?

5. Do you believe that a sniper who targets a military, political or terrorist leader is conducting an assassination? Do you believe that military snipers conduct illegitimate actions as a part of their job? In your opinion, should they be prosecuted?



--airspoon



posted on Dec, 17 2010 @ 12:13 AM
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Assassination is not a new concept, especially in the warring species of mankind, but while the topic is generally very broad, the phrase “legitimate policy instrument for governments” focuses in on a specific type of assassination and by specified groups. The premise of assassination as a legitimate policy instrument for governments is without limit.

The legality of assassination, in and of itself, is a terribly murky topic outside of standard and declared wartime operations, so it’s worth considering all aspects of assassination. Assassination not related to wartime operations is not uncommon historically and creates a slippery slope from which many things, including the desired avoidance of war, can often spring. This unpopular, but nevertheless clearly included, aspect of assassination can not be easily dismissed. While there may be justifications, attempts to link to legitimate need, and staunch denials, this kind of political maneuvering happens even today and generally either does little or produces additional violence. One example is the Cold War proxy actions between the United States and Russia, where the US attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro in Cuba.

The other side of the equation is the idea that assassinations are legitimate during wartime, and there is a fair amount of international agreement to that fact. While indisputable in some cases, one can not ignore the changing face of warfare that has been brought about with the increasingly advanced weapons and technology systems of today. To simply say that assassinations during wartime are legitimate would also include the assassination of a nations own citizens who actively seek to conduct terrorist activities in concert with or as a member of the declared enemy of the state. A prime example just this year concerns American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlakiboth, where both The New York Times and The Washington Post “confirm that the Obama White House has now expressly authorized the CIA to kill al-Alwaki no matter where he is found, no matter his distance from a battlefield.” (1)

Regardless of the angle or justifications, this topic has little in the way of clear cut positions, especially in an increasingly complex international, political, and technological planet. If speaking is simple philosophy, one might suggest that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”(3) The natural evolution of this concept is based upon a refinement of the theory of justice. At the end of the day, is assassination during peace preferable to justice and is assassination during wartime so simple a concept? To either the answer is no.

Socratic Responses & Return Questions:


Originally posted by airspoon
1. Do you agree that if Hitler would have been assassinated before the Nazis kicked off their campaign of conquest in the late 1930's, at the very least the European front to WWII could have been avoided, thus millions of innocent civilian deaths averted? If not, please explain.


Plainly, no. By even the mid 1930’s it was entirely too late. Recall that it was in 1919 that Adolf Hitler read a small pamphlet by Anton Drexler and decided to join the German Workers' Party. Already, at the time, the ultra right-wing nationalists were out and recruiting and anti-sematism, rather than being a creation of the Nazi party, was simply and earnestly manipulated by the Nazis of existing sentiment.

Early on in the German Workers’ Party, Hitler states "This absurd little organization with its few members seemed to me to possess the one advantage that it had not frozen into an 'organization,' but left the individual opportunity for real personal activity. Here it was still possible to work, and the smaller the movement, the more readily it could be put into the proper form. Here, the content, the goal, and the road could still be determined..." (2)

Opportunists are not in short supply, especially in a nation that has economic problems, national identity issues, and has massive debt coupled with anger over recent military defeat.

One might also ask: Would the conditions have existed that one such as Hitler could have risen to power in the first place had Archduke Franz Ferdinand not been assassinated?” Regardless of the reasons, the result was the escalation to the First World War. With 9 million deaths, the irony of the question should be remembered.


Originally posted by airspoon
2. Do you agree that war should only be conducted as a last resort, thus all possible actions that could avert war, to include assassination, should be exhausted? If not, how could a war where many people die, be better than an assassination where only one or a handful of people die?


War should, of course, be the last resort. To say, however, that all actions should include assassination assumes that only a lone figurehead or small group rules and there would be no one to take their place or is like-minded. Did the civil rights end when Martin Luther King was murdered? Would it have removed the imperialism of Japan in the days preceding Pearl Harbor? Would it have been preferable against Saddam Hussein over the justice meted out by his own people? From North Korea’s Kim Il-sung, or current Kim Jong-Il, to Fidel Castro or Hugo Chávez, one would be hard pressed to find an example or condition that would satisfy such a narrow sliver of possibility.

The questions are far more numerous just trying to answer such a question in a real world application as to make the point quite moot.


Originally posted by airspoon
3. How do you suppose that we, as a country, should deal with certain threats that prove too illusive for conventional methods of neutralization?


If you speak of the United States, ironically one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, then the simple foundations of the nation are adequate to answer this question. The Rule of Law and ideals put forth in the Constitution are not simple legal restrictions on a specific government, but a foundation upon which liberty has grown around the world. Being a bit of a loaded question, however, it assumes that conventional “methods of neutralization” are also just.

If a person must be assassinated, isn’t it also true that person must be found in order to be killed by stealth and/or surprise? If that is so, what conditions exist where one might be found but there is no possibility of apprehension? Would just trials not project legitimacy for a nation’s continued actions and adherence to it’s own purported philosophy of the Rule of Law?


Originally posted by airspoon
4. If a leader threatens to deploy his army against our country and that deployment could be stopped with a strike against only that leader, would it not be more beneficial for society to take advantage of such a strike?


This assumes that assassination or small-scale strikes would avert such an event. It also assumes that said leader is to be taken at his word, but if Kim Jong-Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is any kind of example, those nations would have had dead leaders for many years now. Threats are not actions, and without actual knowledge of impending military action or being attacked, the policy of pre-emption has been demonstrably abused, even in it’s first employment.


Originally posted by airspoon
5. Do you believe that a sniper who targets a military, political or terrorist leader is conducting an assassination? Do you believe that military snipers conduct illegitimate actions as a part of their job? In your opinion, should they be prosecuted?


They are conducting an assassination by definition, so yes. Military snipers can participate in activities that are involved in direct combat or in actions with no relation to combat. In either case there are too many variables. If military snipers performing their job during times of war against declared and verified combatants, your position would indicate that the action would be justified and legitimate.

That being said, should a military sniper be prosecuted for a sanctioned assassination against a American-born citizen inside the United States, with strong evidence they were involved in planning and participating in a pending terror attack?

1 - Greenwald, Glen, Confirmed: Obama authorizes assassination of US citizen, Salon, Apr 7, 2010, referenced Dec 16, 2010 at www.salon.com...

2 - Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kampf, 1939

3 - Declaration of Independance of the united States of America.



posted on Dec, 18 2010 @ 02:58 AM
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I request a 24 hour extension. Thanks.



posted on Dec, 19 2010 @ 02:56 AM
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A government is created with the main purpose of protecting the interests of the governed, though certainly with the consent of the same. In order for government to protect those interests, it needs to set and enforce policy. Of course, this policy needs to be within the confines of the law and so long as the policy and its enforcement is confined within the law, then it is legitimate. Policy should be set around protecting the interests of the country in which the government serves and there are many ways to enforce this policy, such as policing, military deployments, funding and yes, even assassinations (among many others). Of course all of these methods of policy enforcement can be abused if they aren't conducted within the limits of the law, though just because they have the potential for abuse, doesn't mean that they aren't legitimate or should be banned. Instead, steps should be taken to limit or eliminate abuse. This goes with just about everything, not just the policy instruments of government.

Lets take a moment to look at military deployments as a policy instrument for government. Of course, a government can abuse it's power by deploying the military in a manner which doesn't serve the best interests of the population and/or country, though this certainly doesn't mean that military deployments aren't legitimate. If we deemed military deployments illegitimate and banned them outright, then we would be in a world of hurt, as we wouldn't be able to protect or advocate our interests. In other words, we wouldn't be able to ensure our national security, thus our interests would ultimately suffer. Of course, we could substitute other policy instruments in place of military deployments, but the cost would be heavy and the effectiveness wouldn't be anywhere near the same.

Just as military deployments are legitimate policy instruments, so is assassination, as long as both are conducted within the law and they enforce policy that serves the interests of the country or its people. Of course, we could also substitute assassinations with other policy instruments, though just like with military deployments, the cost will be much greater and the effectiveness would suffer.

I think it's more than safe to say that the best interests of the people would be served if thousands of soldier deaths were avoided, victory on the battlefield assured, collateral damage limited, tax-dollars conserved and/or national security preserved. If the assassination of a head of state or military leader prevents a much larger conflict, which otherwise couldn't have been prevented through other policy instruments, then of course it would benefit the people of both countries involved. Here in America, we enjoy a certain status as the world's leading super-power, so we don't really have to worry too much about other countries itching to go to war with us, though it is still certainly a possibility. However, many other countries don't enjoy the protections of such a status, thus assassinations may prove to be a much more effective and common policy for their respective governments.

The main point to take home here, is that assassination, just like any other policy instrument of government, can be and is beneficial, so long as it is conducted in a legitimate manner. Also, just because it is abused or has the potential for abuse, doesn't mean that you throw the whole thing out and severely limit the necessary options of government to serve its purpose in protecting the interests of the governed.

We also have to distinguish the difference between government sponsored assassination and individual or special interest sponsored assassination (such as terrorist groups or organized crime). A government governs with the consent of the people, whether directly or indirectly. Sure, you can say that our own government does many things in which the people do not consent, but we do indirectly consent by not holding government accountable. We allow them to do it by not stopping them from doing it, regardless of the reasons. A government works on behalf of the people, for better or worse, while an individual or special interest group does not and instead looks out for its own interests, with practically no oversight from the people. We could also relate this with other policy instruments such as policing. The repercussions and implications of an individual policing you are far different from a government policing you.


Would the conditions have existed that one such as Hitler could have risen to power in the first place had Archduke Franz Ferdinand not been assassinated?


I'd first like to draw a very important distinction here and that is that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was not a state-sponsored assassination. Instead he was [ultimately] assassinated by a young man named Gavrilo Princip, who was part of a Serb terrorist group called "the black hand". This discussion is about state-sponsored assassination and the implications are vastly different. For this reason, the Ferdinand assassination is irrelevant, as a terrorist group doesn't have the authority to enforce policy on behalf of the people, nor does it have the resources and interests to calculate the consequences of such a decisive act. This terrorist group wasn't concerned with either starting or avoiding war. They were in effect, a special interest group with the only goal of forwarding their own agenda and interests.


Did the civil rights end when Martin Luther King was murdered? Would it have removed the imperialism of Japan in the days preceding Pearl Harbor? Would it have been preferable against Saddam Hussein over the justice meted out by his own people?


No, though these are straw man arguments.

Again, you aren't distinguishing between state-sponsored assassination and terrorist or citizen-sponsored assassination. We don't have any proof or definitive evidence that the government was behind the assassination of Martin Luther King and even if by odd chance they were, it is still a nefariously motivated act, thus illegal and the result of abuse. That certainly doesn't mean that state-sponsored assassinations aren't a legitimate policy instrument.

As far as Japan, that country wasn't a despotic Imperialism. Instead, the real power and control was held by the military, thus a neutralization of the imperial court in this particular case, wouldn't have mattered much. However, had we have had the proper intelligence indicating which generals or policy setters were pushing for the bombing of Pearl Harbor, then proper assassinations could have been carried out and we just may have been able to avoid the Pearl Harbor incident.

When it comes to Saddam Hussein, any effectiveness of an assassination should have been determined by the government, which would have the resources and intelligence to calculate any possible consequences of such an act, to include the over-all outcome. If that intelligence would have indicated that a war could have been averted with a policy instrument of assassination, then it surely would have been a benefit, regardless of whether one believes our motivations for war were legitimate or not. Trading hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of tax-dollars for the price of one bullet and the life of Saddam Hussein, who by the way was executed anyway. With that being said, I happen to believe that abuses of government power is what lead to the war in Iraq, thus any assassination attempt would have also been an abuse of power, making this argument based on straws.


If a person must be assassinated, isn’t it also true that person must be found in order to be killed by stealth and/or surprise? If that is so, what conditions exist where one might be found but there is no possibility of apprehension? Would just trials not project legitimacy for a nation’s continued actions and adherence to it’s own purported philosophy of the Rule of Law?


There are many cases in which one may be "found" but not apprehended. For instance, if the target is in a fortified position or inaccessible terrain, where it would take extensive resources to negotiate, if negotiation is at possible to begin with. We also have the obstacle of time, which is often the definitive factor. For instance, we may find out the location of a target for only a brief period. If assets can't be mobilized in the allotted time that the target is on location, apprehension becomes impossible. Another scenario would be where covert infiltration may be the only access we have to a target.


That being said, should a military sniper be prosecuted for a sanctioned assassination against a American-born citizen inside the United States, with strong evidence they were involved in planning and participating in a pending terror attack?


Yes they should, as it is against the law and every soldier takes an oath to obey only lawful orders. Ignorance of the law is no excuse to break the law, thus it is the responsibility of every soldier to know the law and it is clearly against the law for an American soldier to use force against an American citizen on American soil. Remember, policy must be set and enforced according to law, otherwise you only increase the potential for abuse, not to mention the negating of legitimacy.

1. Do you agree that only a government has the resources and authority to implement national policy, thus enforcing that policy should be reserved for those only those with the consent from the people to govern?

2. Do you believe that we should ban any policy instrument that has the potential for abuse? If no, then why would government sponsored assassination be any different?

3. If a head of state or military leader compromises the national security of another country, then why should that country not have the option to neutralize the threat?

4. How is one life taken not better than thousands of lives taken?

5. Do you agree that there is a difference between legitimate assassinations and illegitimate assassinations?





--airspoon



posted on Dec, 19 2010 @ 09:06 PM
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Request my 24 hour extension for work purposes.



posted on Dec, 20 2010 @ 11:29 PM
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There are two main facets to the discussion of assassination as a political tool of governments: wartime and peacetime. One can not ignore either of these two if a solid position is to be put forth, nor can it solely be discussed as if the sanctioning nation was a major world power combating evil forces. Consistency, due to the broad nature of the question, would require considering the actions, even if against a major western power, by using the same criteria used by those western nations themselves. Modern, and generally western, democratic nations are not the only nations involved in global politics nor the topic at hand, but all nations. If all nations do not have the same rules of conduct applied to them, then the topic has, and the rules in general have, no legitimacy in a practical world.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." ~ George Orwell, Animal Farm

International law is a bit of a sticky wicket, but it remains the only communally established framework for the interactions between sovereign nations. Most nations play the game with regards to the United Nations, and previously at the Hague and Geneva conventions, but the rules are often times vague, easily avoided, or ignored through redefinition or a loosening of definition which will be discussed later. To properly frame the exceptions, however, the rules must be at least summarized. That being said, state sponsored assassination is prohibited, under most circumstances, by international law. “The United Nations Charter prohibits the aggressive use of force by one state against another. The Charter also prohibits interfering in the territory or affairs of another state. Chapter I of the Charter requires that all states must "settle their international disputes by peaceful means" and must "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force". When a state sponsors the assassination of the leader of another state, it violates this basic rule of international law.” (1)

Section 2 Chapter 1 Article 23 of the 1899 Hague Convention prohibits the following:
“To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army”

Art 37. Prohibition of Perfidy expands on this topic by banning attacks that rely on the use of perfidy, or deceit.

It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy.

There are two exceptions, one being during a time of war and one during a time of peace as a means of self-defense. The development of the Caroline Test, a portion of international law, was named after the Caroline affair between the United States and Britain. This principle had three main requirements for a legitimate act of self-defense, and is the bedrock of the rules of preemptive force. First, self-defense may only be used when the threat of aggression is, according to Secretary of State Daniel Webster “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation" This means that defensive force may only be used to defend against an act of aggression that is occurring or is about to occur. Second, force must be necessary in order to defend against the aggression. Any other way to defend against the threat must be used first. Third, the defensive response must be proportionate to the threatened aggression. Under these restrictions the assassination must be the only way to defend against the aggression, but may not be used for reprisals against an attack that has already occurred.

The morality of peacetime action must also be considered, especially in the light of modern events and the current supports presented, and if those same considerations be given to nations that are generally not favored by the western world. Would Iran, North Korea, Cuba, or even China be given the same consideration if it felt threatened and assassinated President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Lee Myung-bak, other leaders, or their agents? This is a seriously doubtful and would most likely be seen as casis beli and retaliated against strongly, again stated as self-defense in the stretched modern view, even if the claim were legitimate.

It should be self-evident that outside of active declared wartime operations, any person should be considered “equal before the law” and are “entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”(2)

Assassination can be justified based on the greater good or self-defense but realistically it is virtually impossible to prove that or to prove the guilt of the targeted party outside of court, therefore the killings are based on assumptions or speculation and so cannot be justified morally.


I'd first like to draw a very important distinction here and that is that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was not a state-sponsored assassination. Instead he was [ultimately] assassinated by a young man named Gavrilo Princip, who was part of a Serb terrorist group called "the black hand". This discussion is about state-sponsored assassination and the implications are vastly different


While it’s true that the actions are not the same, the point obviously doesn’t require it be. Without getting too bogged down on side-trails, it should stand to reason that assassination can have many unintended consequences, and in this case was the primer that created a cascade of events leading to massive war on a scale unseen at the time and resulting in the deaths of millions. It certainly throws into question the idea that the death of one could save the lives of thousands or millions, because future events are unknowable in an unpredictable world.

In the end, if assassination had been supported by Russia or Serbia itself, really doesn’t matter.


No, though these are straw man arguments

Again, you aren't distinguishing between state-sponsored assassination and terrorist or citizen-sponsored assassination. We don't have any proof or definitive evidence that the government was behind the assassination of Martin Luther King


There are no illusions here. There has been a presented assertion that cutting off the head of the snake can or will take the teeth from an enemy or threat. Regardless of the situation, government, or movement, this principle is simply not true. If there are examples of it being true, they are so few so as to be inconsequential in terms of broad global principles of national policy instruments or too small of scale to be relevant.


Yes they should, as it is against the law and every soldier takes an oath to obey only lawful orders.


It’s important to note that the rules the government plays by during a time of war or national emergency are not the same as those during a time of peace, as evidenced by Lincoln’s actions during the civil war or the collection of personal firearms during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

If we are actually legitimately at war, and the definitions and justifications the United States government produces are correct, a fundamental support of the positive position, then the actions would be technical legal.

If we are not at war, and those justifications are therefore not legitimate or legal, then it would be as unlawful as all the other targeted killing that has occurred outside the war zone since the start of the “War on Terror”.

Socratic Responses


Do you agree that only a government has the resources and authority to implement national policy, thus enforcing that policy should be reserved for those only those with the consent from the people to govern?


The question in two parts:

Yes, a government has the resources and authority to implement national policy by definition. It should be said that government may be defined in a variety of different ways depending on which nation is being discussed, and important distinction.

Theoretically it would be nice, but the world does not work that way. Consent is a tricky gamut to run considering consent is generally viewed as the majority view. Not all nations have minority protections and those provided for by the UN are regularly not heeded.

This seems an overly complex question without purpose, no offense.



Do you believe that we should ban any policy instrument that has the potential for abuse? If no, then why would government sponsored assassination be any different?


Assuming “we” to mean the United States of America, or more broadly the western world, government sponsored assassination is quite different to farm subsidies or taxation. This also flies in the face of the entire topic, as it encompasses all nations, even those run poorly, run by dictators, or run to the detriment of its own people.

Assassination is much akin to warfare, meaning not to be taken lightly. When viewing the slope it rests atop and the resulting finality of death, speaking of abuse is a terribly kind way of saying horrific, especially for nations who developed the global definition of basic human rights to begin with.



If a head of state or military leader compromises the national security of another country, then why should that country not have the option to neutralize the threat?


To name a few, the fact that the sword cuts both ways certainly seems to be a fact ignored in much of modern Amerocentric thought. Should, for example, President Obama be assassinated as the Commander in Chief should the United States violate the national security of another in pursuit and targeted killing of a suspected terrorist? The answer can only be yes if this view is taken, and would have already happened if it were true.

It violates international law generally and would have no foundation as an act of self defense, but merely an act of reprisal. This would remove the support of public opinion that would be needed to address the violation and chances are could be used to solidify a position of real retaliation or escalate a full war.



How is one life taken not better than thousands of lives taken?

This has been discussed above in terms of the First World War quite conclusively.



Do you agree that there is a difference between legitimate assassinations and illegitimate assassinations?


No, if one believes in the tenants of justice and looks practically at the world, one can only draw one conclusion. Assassination as a political tool is not effective, is difficult to prove as self defense, strips legitimacy from the claims of the aggressors, and could very well create a far worse outcome than anticipated.

Using a tool like that seems foolhardy at best, and if all nations are accountable to the same, it would be better to remove the legitimacy from it entirely.

1 – Morgan Brian, Assassination, reviewed 12/19/2010 at swww.enotes.com...

2 – Multiple authors, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations



posted on Dec, 22 2010 @ 02:05 AM
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SQ 1. Is assassination any more wrong than two or more soldiers engaging in combat actions? If yes, then what is the basis for such a conclusion?

I would first like to dispel any pre-conceived notions that the reader may or may not have with the term assassination. Often, when we hear the term "assassination", we think of JFK, MLK or some clandestine act conducted by conspirators for a nefarious goal. While this type of assassination does unfortunately exist, it is not the focus of this debate and it certainly isn't my proposition. Instead, I'm arguing that state-sponsored assassination should be an option available to governments in a very limited context and with as much or more over-sight as the power to conduct and wage war.

I would then like to point out that nowhere in international law does it specifically prohibit assassination vel non. Sure, there are some treaties or articles that indirectly prohibit some forms of assassination, though these treaties and articles focus more on the environment variables that may or may not surround the act of assassination, in which case it isn't the assassination per se that is called into question, but rather whatever prohibition that has been undermined.

You bring up Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter to suggest that the UN forbids aggression or force by one state against another, but that's not what is says at all. What the Charter does say however, is "To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace"

What Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter doesn't say, is that aggression is prohibited, but instead that acts of aggression should be suppressed and then it calls for the removal of threats to peace. Basically, it is saying that the purpose of the United Nations is to be a conduit of peace and to eliminate threats to that peace. It then goes on to suggest goals of all of the member nations to seek out peaceful resolutions to conflict, in an effort to suppress aggression. This doesn't mean that a member nation can't reply to force with force or even that a nation can't reply to the threat of force with force.

As far as your citing of Section 2, Article 23 of the 1899 Hague Convention, that "Art" is not against assassination, so much as it is against deceit as it pertains to methods of fighting a war. For instance, you can't trick your enemy by wearing his/her uniform or by slapping on a big red cross or crescent. This doesn't mean however that a team of snipers can't settle in on a ridge somewhere and look for flashy epilates or shiny rank and fire away.

As far as your citing of Art 37 of the Hague Convention, your attribution is completely wrong, as that isn't even close to what Art 37 says or implies. What Art 37 does say, "In relation to a State which with regard to adoption has two or more systems of law applicable to different categories of persons, any reference to the law of that State shall be construed as referring to the legal system specified by the law of that State."

This article has nothing to do with whether assassinations are allowed under the rules of war according to international law and instead, like much of the Hague Conventions, this article is irrelevant in our modern times.

If the Hague Conventions are going to be cited anymore in this debate, then we should put the relevance of the Convention in its proper context. For instance, did you know that one of the main effects of the Hague Conventions was to ban many types of modern technology in war, such as hollow point bullets and bombs dropped from aircraft? Both of these "technologies" are now a mainstay on the battlefield.


That being said, state sponsored assassination is prohibited, under most circumstances, by international law.


For the sake of this particular argument and the point about to be made, lets just suppose you are right and that under most circumstances state-sponsored assassination is prohibited under international law, the key-word being "most", meaning that at least some forms of assassination are legal under international law and this brings me to another Socratic Question:

2. According to your own statement, which forms of assassination are legal under international law?


Assassination is much akin to warfare, meaning not to be taken lightly. When viewing the slope it rests atop and the resulting finality of death, speaking of abuse is a terribly kind way of saying horrific, especially for nations who developed the global definition of basic human rights to begin with.


Your right, assassination is on par with warfare as far as seriousness and shouldn't be taken lightly, though it also shouldn't be seen as a "black and white" issue either. Just like warfare, it's not really realistic to suggest that we can simply do away with it and while such a notion would be ideal, it is utopian in nature. It's a good goal to strive for, like being rich, but sometimes you have to navigate reality and live within your means.

In a perfect world, both assassination and war wouldn't be needed. In fact, many policy instruments and even government itself wouldn't be needed in such a perfect world. However, as we all know far too well, a perfect world is not what we have, not even close. Sometimes, to keep from drowning, you have to get wet. Human rights abuses are going to happen in our reality and it is not only our responsibility, but also our duty to eliminate and/or suppress human rights abuses as much as possible, to include our own and one of the tools or instruments at our disposal to achieve this, at least indirectly, is assassination. If war or hostility can either be avoided or shortened by an action with lesser consequences and their isn't another means to accomplish a similar outcome, then that action should be considered and it certainly should be an option on the table.

If you have a leak in your boat and you are trying to keep dry, you may just have to bite the bullet and get a little wet by plugging that hole. In other words, you may have to get a little wet to stay as dry as possible because if you don't plug that hole, then odds are you will really be wet as you swim to shore after your boat sinks. If you are striving for peace and a figure threatens that peace, then assassination might be a viable method to maintain as much peace as possible, so long as all non-aggressive methods have been exhausted. For instance, if a despotic dictator was either on a path of genocidal terror or threatening a missile strike on another country and all peaceful methods of resolving the issue have fallen through, it may be the best option to take this despotic dictator out through assassination, if we deem such a tactic to be effective. In some cases, it may just be effective, while in other cases maybe not so much. Remember, this isn't a black and white issue and I'm not arguing that assassinations should be a knee-jerk reaction. Instead, it should be handled with the same care and attention that a surgical air-strike is handled, if not more. In fact, many surgical air-strikes are assassinations by definition and they have been effective in both of our current conflicts.

When we take out an Al Qaeda leader, the losses to the organization aren't as superficial as some believe. Sure, someone else just steps up to the plate, but it ultimately disrupts fluidity and moral. Also, due to the operational aspects of Al Qaeda, it deals a serious blow to the effectiveness of their organization and requires both time and resources in order to bounce back, if they can bounce back at all.

On the other side of the coin, we can look at the assassination of Ahmad Massoud just two days before the terrorist attacks of 2001. Ahmad Massoud was an extremely effective Northern Alliance Commander who could have easily over-run the Taliban in Afghanistan with logistical help from the United States, which is the reason he was assassinated in the first place. Of course, the official theory is that Al Qaeda, under the direction of the Taliban, assassinated Massoud, while many conspiracy theorists believe that western governments were ultimately behind the strategic move. However, regardless of where responsibility lies for the assassination, it was clearly very effective as the Taliban and Al Qaeda weren't as quickly rooted. This was an assassination that was clearly well calculated.


Should, for example, President Obama be assassinated as the Commander in Chief should the United States violate the national security of another in pursuit and targeted killing of a suspected terrorist?


There are a few problems with this comparison. First, the assassination would have to be the only or last resort before assassination would be a legit policy instrument. Also, the nation in question would have to calculate if the assassination of Obama would be effective, which I think they would quickly find otherwise. If Obama was assassinated for the purposes of ending the war on terror, then the next politician from the "Republoratic" partie[s] would just step in and the backlash by the American people would probably be heavy, showing just how ineffective such an assassination would be. Assassination would have to be critically calculated to provide the best bang for the buck, just as many other policy instruments are. You can't really say, "because it won't work for this scenario, it doesn't work at all", as it isn't that cut and dry.

SQ 3. Are you suggesting that precision air-strikes against identified targets aren't legitimate and are you aware that this is a form of assassination?



--airspoon



posted on Dec, 23 2010 @ 12:17 AM
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Note for the Correction of an Editorial Error: Regarding Article 37 of the previous post, the entry should have read Article 37 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, rather than to the Hague Convention it appears to reference. Apologies.

It is true that International Law is terribly flawed and weak, creating “protection” to certain people under certain conditions. These narrow and easily avoided laws do little and, even when the attempt is made, the enforcement element is generally impotent. Justly, delving too deeply into a discussion of legalities will, more often than not, devolve into discussions of definitions and/or justifications for specific interpretations while leaving the actual discussion of merit out of the equation. Because of this, as before, the legal portion will be presented, but will not preclude basic logical discussion of real world application and its ramifications.

There are two basic forms of permissible lethal action by a state:

Law Enforcement - which is not applicable to a discussion of assassination due to assassination’s natural premeditation.

Right of Self Defense, or Just War – this is the most common defense for states who have conducted assassinations sporadically or as a part of a campaign.

To summarize the latter principle’s application in times of peace are based on discussions between U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster and British Foreign Secretary Lord Ashburton in regards to the Caroline Incident. "Respect for the inviolable character of the territory of independent nations is the most essential foundation of civilization,”(1) The principle is not, however, to counter a collective, or state’s, right to self defense. The caveat was "a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation," and "the act, justified by the necessity of self defense, must be limited by that necessity, and kept clearly within it.”(2) The idea was bolstered and enforced by being quoted at the Nuremberg Trials following the Second World War, and has been added to the United Nations Charter in Article 51.

The official legalities of the position create a very narrow window in which these actions can be taken before active and declared war has commenced. Only a portion of the possible actions which would be possible is assassination, and its efficacy remains in question. The source of such legalities and the agreements made, however, are more important than the fact that they are International Law. It should be the goal of nations to strive for continued political and international evolution.

The questions of assassination in a time of war naturally brings many additionally questions that require answers in order to properly frame the suggested assassination itself. The primary question demands evidence that war, itself, is a legitimate policy instrument for governments, especially due to the fact that the only side of a war that can claim the side of justice would be the side of those simply protecting themselves. A right is something inherent rather than something claimed, such as policy. Policy can be defined simply as basic principles by which a government is guided or declared objectives which a government seeks to achieve and preserve.(3) It is not required to defend or justify a policy of self defense, as it is natural right of any individual or state and is stated frequently in treaties, national documents, the United Nations Charter, and by any nation suffering violence or violation of national sovereignty by another nation or group.

Many in the Western World might disagree, but oddly the entire principle is founded on Western notions of freedom, justice, and the absolute right of national sovereignty. The Treaty Providing for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy was signed August 27, 1928 as a commitment to this principle by The German Reich, the United States of America, Belgium, the French Republic, Great Britain and Ireland, India, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Poland, and the Czechoslovak Republic.

“Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind; Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated;

Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory Power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty;

Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavor and by adhering to the present treaty as soon as it comes into force bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;”


If war can not be considered as a policy instrument, then assassination during a time of war can not be by extension. As stated, powerful nations should serve as an example to other nations to encourage them towards a better world.


You bring up Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter to suggest that the UN forbids aggression or force by one state against another, but that's not what is says at all. What the Charter does say however, is "To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace"

What Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter doesn't say, is that aggression is prohibited, but instead that acts of aggression should be suppressed and then it calls for the removal of threats to peace. Basically, it is saying that the purpose of the United Nations is to be a conduit of peace and to eliminate threats to that peace. It then goes on to suggest goals of all of the member nations to seek out peaceful resolutions to conflict, in an effort to suppress aggression. This doesn't mean that a member nation can't reply to force with force or even that a nation can't reply to the threat of force with force.


To complete the quotation of Chapter 1 “and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;” needs to be added to provide the full idea. Justice and peaceful are prominent, seeking an actual avenue for the elimination of international aggression rather than simply removing threats to peace.

It is indeed true that self defense is not precluded by the Charter, and that idea has never been suggested and therefore needs no refuting. Again, though, the right to self defense is inherent and is implied, not needing to be explicitly stated in policy positions.

Socratic Responses and Return Questions



Is assassination any more wrong than two or more soldiers engaging in combat actions? If yes, then what is the basis for such a conclusion?


If assassination means targeted killing in a time of war against a declared enemy, then no since soldiers engaging in combat actions do the very same thing except instead of it being targeted it is general killing. In the end, it depends on which side the soldier is on since the side defending itself will have the right in either case, and the aggressor will be wrong in both. A war of aggression is against practically all, if not all, international law and agreements by itself and can not be considered a legitimate national policy instrument. A war of defense has already been discussed as an inherent right.

Conversely, if assassination means during a time of peace or in law enforcement action, much like the American War on Terror, then they are quire different by their very nature. It is generally considered abhorrent to conduct extra-judicial killing in the way the United States and Israel are and have been doing. They directly contradict the basis of their very principles and, quite honestly, every bullet, bomb, or drone is another nail in the coffin for the legitimacy of their continued action.



According to your own statement, which forms of assassination are legal under international law?


There are two types, neither of which supports the positive case: Law enforcement, which naturally is not predicated upon premeditated killing to be legitimate, and Self Defense or Just War. The latter has been discussed above.



Are you suggesting that precision air-strikes against identified targets aren't legitimate and are you aware that this is a form of assassination?


Yes this can be a form of assassination, but it is generally labeled as an attack on “command and control” nodes to circumvent any international law snags. In the War on Terror, the implied setting, this creates an even messier discussion considering the disagreement about if this is truly an action of war or an action of law enforcement and if there is jus ad bellum for this level of action to begin with.

The question, like most, generally tends to have serious Amerocentric tones to them. This is problematic since the United States in the single most powerful, rich, technologically advanced nation on the planet. The general tendency of the United States to redefine terms, apply serious pressure for compliance from other nations, and act with impunity creates quite a skewed discussion since the large majority of nations would not be able to act the same against the United States.

Which definition of legal assassination truly justifies extra-judicial murder, especially in a war against non-states?

Does the increasingly blurry line between law enforcement and just war not create additional pitfalls? If so, by what criteria would be used to judge the actions, even when contested.

No single nation has authority over another and all nations are to play by the same rules in order to have the authority to act. Who, then, is the arbiter that creates, judges, enforces, or punishes violations of the criteria by which these actions are judged?


1 - Webster, Daniel, The Works of Daniel Webster Volume VI, Metcalf & Company, Page 295

2 - Webster, Daniel, The Works of Daniel Webster Volume VI, Metcalf & Company, Page 261

3 - Business Dictionary, accessed Dec 22, 2010 at www.businessdictionary.com...



posted on Jan, 6 2011 @ 08:33 PM
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The contrary position is simple but the coverage is complete.

During a time of peace, engaging in assassination has the ability to create resentment at the very least. It can, however, create volatile conditions, aid in recruitment of terrorism or support for the cause of the victim, and have long-reaching effects that can not be anticipated. The authority to engage in such an activity in International Law in peacetime is clear. Law Enforcement efforts may use deadly force, however they are not premeditated thus eliminating assassination under this definition. Also, it might be used preemptively as one of many measures of last resort and under very narrow circumstances. Proving the effectiveness under those conditions is so difficult that it is better to be avoided.

It should be the assertion of governments to reject the idea of war as a national policy instrument. If war is renounced as such, as has been done by most of the current world powers, then the associated assassinations could not be an instrument either. This covers acts of aggressive war, but not defensive war.

Defensive wars have been declared increasingly using broader and broader definitions of the phrase "self defense", even if only looking at Israel and the United States. The mobilized response to terror attacks has not been one of criminal pursuit, but rare overt and large-scale war. The increasingly asymmetric nature of warfare has put increasing strain on the credulity of the "self defense" justification even if only looking at the serious collateral loss of life such assassinations have caused. Additionally, it seems ironic that nations based on and aiming to perpetuate justice and the rule of law are some of the ones carrying out extra-judicial executions by definition and in direct and glaring opposition to the very nature of their laws and government.

If all nations are to play by the same rules, then it seems logical that we hold them the rules laid out by the best humanity has to offer, or at the very least to the tenants they project.

The morality of the issue can get sticky based on religious, cultural, and situational sensibilities, however one can say one thing with relative certainty; public opinion is disdainful of targeted killing without trial.



posted on Jan, 14 2011 @ 08:00 PM
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I am sorry to Airspoon. I can not wait anymore.

Debate complete



posted on Feb, 2 2011 @ 01:04 AM
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WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!!!!


Up until Airspoon stopped posting I had this debate scored at 5 to 3 favoring KrazyJethro

I feel that KrazyJethro proved that assassination is a unfavorable form of government policy both regarding the Constitution of the USA and of International Law. I also felt that Airspoon was not able to prove historically that assassination was effective.

Winner: KrazyJethro



For an opening post I was a little concerned that Airspoon spent most of it dictating what he wasn't going to debate, and what he was going to debate, and leaving a gray area I can only assume would have me guess what he might debate. The debates topic does not specify a specific "type" of assassination, but assassination in general, I am unclear as to why domestic assassination would be excluded specifically when its quite possible it happens more than international assassination.
KrazyJethro did a fine job expanding beyond just one type of assassination, and quoted sources well. The only problem I see is that I was unclear as to whether Krazy was proposing more than one Socratic question, or rhetorical ones. I feel KrazyJethro did a better job staying to the topic, albeit a broad topic, sourcing his arguments and providing a solid rebuttal of the questions posed.

In the main argument of the debate, both sides presented their case very clearly. Airspoon did an excellent job relating to assassination to other military operations, but the argument was dampened somewhat by the fact that in all of his reply's he seems defensive that assassination should be done in a very specific style to be "legitimate". While that might be his belief, it weakens the argument for which he's supporting. If you question your own stance, so will the reader.

Again Krazy Jethro throughout the debate constantly provided sourcing, and got the technical down when sourcing as well. Because debates are somewhat formal affairs, the sourcing, thorough replies all help to strengthen his own stance.

It was particularly difficult to determine a winner for the main portion of the debate, ultimately it comes down to who provided the most engaging and solid argument.. this would normally be finished with the finality of the closing argument, and since Airspoon, for reasons that may very well be out of his control, was unable to complete.

I would therefore say that KrazyJethro is the winner.



Decision: KrazyJethro

Comments: KJ did a fantastic job arguing the assigned side of the debate using multiple methods; perspective, analysis, relevant referenced material, etc. for impact and forcing the reader to question/analyze multiple angles, effectively squashing the real possibility that a reader may be leaning on way or the other prior to reading the debate. KJ asked/answered socratic questions directly and effectively without giving ground or appearing to weaken the assigned stance.

Airspoon: my comments above apply just as much to Airspoon and honestly could say the same for his debate. His debate tactic was solid and brought impressive control of the topic, but unfortunately, he didn't complete the debate and therefore couldn't vote him the winner of this round.


UNANIMOUS DECISION!!!

KrazyJethro is the WINNER



posted on Feb, 19 2011 @ 12:48 PM
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Congratulations to KrazyJethro! I apologize for my absense but I was involved in an accident and am just now able to log back on to ATS (looks like a couple months later). To the judges, your critiques are certainly warranted and respected, though maybe I would have addressed those issues had I have been able to complete the debate. Honestly, I can't remember and can only vaguely remember partaking in this debate to begin with. Regardless, KrazyJethro did a stellar job and I couldn't respect him more as a master debater (no cliche puns intended).

--airspoon



posted on Feb, 20 2011 @ 07:48 PM
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Thanks Airspoon, sorry things haven't been too hot lately for you, I've been there before (with my 4 kids it's inevitable).

Airspoon is a class act. A very pleasurable experience debating with you bud, and hope we can get another chance to settle our grudge match for real. Get better soon.

Peace
KJ





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