Assassination, ever justified?

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Velifer » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:33 pm UTC

btilly wrote:Are you deliberately channeling Ted Kaczynski?

Yes, actually. Assassination is a rather sociopathic enterprise after all.

smw543 wrote:if you have the ability to take out a whole bunch of powerful people in the enemy government, you probably have the resources to easily win the war in a more conventional (and less frowned upon) way.

I disagree. I do not have a tank in my garage. Nor do any of my friends (they're all too busy writing manifestos) so we don't really have the people or the equipment to wage even the smallest of wars. I can very easily go down to WalMart and pick up a serviceable rifle that can be extremely useful for assassinations, even after I've posted crazy things like the above in a public forum. The president is a very public figure, with insane amounts of security, and still, we've had a handful of those assassinated--by individuals or small groups, not armies. How hard could it be to get to the undersecretary of plumbing?

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 8:45 am UTC

Velifer wrote:
smw543 wrote:if you have the ability to take out a whole bunch of powerful people in the enemy government, you probably have the resources to easily win the war in a more conventional (and less frowned upon) way.
I disagree. I do not have a tank in my garage. Nor do any of my friends (they're all too busy writing manifestos) so we don't really have the people or the equipment to wage even the smallest of wars. I can very easily go down to WalMart and pick up a serviceable rifle that can be extremely useful for assassinations, even after I've posted crazy things like the above in a public forum. The president is a very public figure, with insane amounts of security, and still, we've had a handful of those assassinated--by individuals or small groups, not armies. How hard could it be to get to the undersecretary of plumbing?
I had assumed you were talking about assassinations with a more solid goal; i.e.: taking out the current government (or at least part of it) so that a new government (or at least a new administration) can take power. Your method is pretty good, if the end in mind is anarchistic. Unless you propose that once the government is paralyzed by security measures, the people, frustrated by the inaction, will revolt and power will change hands. I'm not sure if that could work, but I'll give you credit for a very ingenious idea; I like the cut of your jib, as they say on the seas (although mutiny is the one context in which this likely could not work.) The only problem is if the government reacts to the assassinations by converting to a police state, which could definitely happen. Ten years ago I would have said that the US was the one place where it couldn't, that we believed so strongly in freedom that we would risk destruction rather than become Oceania (setting of 1984.) Now, with the way we treat our own citizens (particularly anyone with light brown skin and an eastern-sounding name), I have to wonder. Also, ten years ago I was a ten-year-old, and as such I was far less cynical.

(Treat this as a separate post) I'll say this again; to all you people saying that one should want chaos in a country, specifically, one other than one's own, and that assassinating the leader is therefore a sound alternative to war; this is simply stupid. This is like, in a game of five card draw where you have a pair of kings, tossing out all five cards, because it gives you a better chance of getting a pair of aces than if you only tossed out the three cards that weren't kings. Only imagine that while you're waiting for the dealer to give you your new cards, thousands of innocent civilians are being killed, hospitals are being blown up, and God knows what other atrocities are going on behind closed doors.

Simply put, causing chaos is only good because it makes it easier for you to step in and take over. If you're using assassination as an alternative to war, that means you have no intention of stepping in and taking over. This means that whoever does take up this task of restoring order from chaos will, due to the chaos, have to become a warlord of sorts, gaining power in a piecemeal fashion and probably having to kill a lot of people along the way.

yoni45 wrote:First off: killing people may not necessarily solve problems, but it can. In World War II, there was killing of a whole bunch of people, but it (eventually) did solve the problem.
I have to assume that since you specifically name WWII, you're argument must revolve around something unique to that war (i.e.: not military casualties). I assume you're referring to the atomic bombing of Japan, but the way you phrase it sounds like you could just as easily be talking about the Final Solution. This is why your English teacher always told you not to be "vague."
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Katrina » Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:44 am UTC

"Make it personal".

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby btilly » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:32 pm UTC

smw543 wrote:
yoni45 wrote:First off: killing people may not necessarily solve problems, but it can. In World War II, there was killing of a whole bunch of people, but it (eventually) did solve the problem.
I have to assume that since you specifically name WWII, you're argument must revolve around something unique to that war (i.e.: not military casualties). I assume you're referring to the atomic bombing of Japan, but the way you phrase it sounds like you could just as easily be talking about the Final Solution. This is why your English teacher always told you not to be "vague."

I assumed that the discussion was of the rest of the war. The atomic bombing was unnecessary. Japan had already offered a conditional surrender with the condition being that they kept their emperor. Which we eventually did, but we wanted an unconditional surrender. However even for that the bomb was unnecessary. Evidence suggests that what actually triggered the surrender was the start of Russia's ground invasion. Japan preferred surrendering to the USA than to Russia. I have also heard that there is some evidence that the power of the weapon was not properly understood within the Japanese high command. The damage was not entirely out of line with conventional weapons (see Dresden for a comparison), and there was disbelief that one bomb could have been responsible.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:51 pm UTC

btilly wrote:I assumed that the discussion was of the rest of the war. The atomic bombing was unnecessary. Japan had already offered a conditional surrender with the condition being that they kept their emperor. Which we eventually did, but we wanted an unconditional surrender. However even for that the bomb was unnecessary. Evidence suggests that what actually triggered the surrender was the start of Russia's ground invasion. Japan preferred surrendering to the USA than to Russia. I have also heard that there is some evidence that the power of the weapon was not properly understood within the Japanese high command. The damage was not entirely out of line with conventional weapons (see Dresden for a comparison), and there was disbelief that one bomb could have been responsible.

The problem with these arguments (I've heard these as well as several similar ones) is that they are speculative and will likely never be confirmed. Necessary or not, it was certainly an unfortunate occurrence, and that's likely all that can be said, unless we find a way to resurrect those involved in the decisions. (As far as physical proof goes, both sides have piles of official letters and forms that "prove" their own perspective.)

I'm not a raving patriot, and I have no qualms about criticizing my country when it's accurate. But the way some people harp about how dropping the bombs constituted a war crime etc. is simply inappropriate (especially as many of the people who speak this way are completely unqualified to make such a claim (I don't mean you, I'm talking about those people that "know the truth" and refer to everyone as sheeple,) not only are they not specialists in history, they often aren't even that familiar with the relevant historical facts.) Either way, this is pretty thoroughly off-topic and I'm sure there's already a thread concerning the justifications for the atomic bombs.

Moving on... I was thinking about this topic earlier, and it occurred to me that there is another good use for assassination: "evil" guys working behind the scenes. For example, there is a certain former leader of a certain very cold country that some allege is still in control, even though he left office (I won't name names here.) If he is indeed acting this way, he would be a prime target. With him out of the way, there wouldn't be a big, chaotic mess because he didn't officially have any power. The officially elected leader would then be free to do "the right thing," potentially. Kind of like that episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns sells the nuclear plant to Homer to avoid legal issues, only to be fired, leaving Homer with complete control.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby btilly » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:49 am UTC

smw543 wrote:Moving on... I was thinking about this topic earlier, and it occurred to me that there is another good use for assassination: "evil" guys working behind the scenes. For example, there is a certain former leader of a certain very cold country that some allege is still in control, even though he left office (I won't name names here.) If he is indeed acting this way, he would be a prime target. With him out of the way, there wouldn't be a big, chaotic mess because he didn't officially have any power. The officially elected leader would then be free to do "the right thing," potentially. Kind of like that episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns sells the nuclear plant to Homer to avoid legal issues, only to be fired, leaving Homer with complete control.

The problem with that is that people like Putin (I am not afraid to name names!) have power because they represent the interests of a power block. Such as the former KGB. If you kill the person, the power block doesn't just vanish, nor do its interests change. It will just find different ways to assert itself.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Immortal_Z » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:55 am UTC

I look at assassinations, through my very demented vision of the world, as a business. everything in the world can be looked at as a business, and I heavily encourage it. You take an assassin, make sure he's bloody good at his job (ex-snipers or poison experts would be best), and pay him to kill someone. The pay is, of course, scaled depending on risk involved for the assassination firm and the risk for one of its very good (and rare, considering what it takes to be a solo sniper), and the importance of the person being assassinated (figured in extras, like ammunition and any bonus packages like clean up and, of course, supply costs). I am sadly serious. Privatize assassinations. They would be too expensive for regular people (unless the particular firm was very cheap/bad), and after a bit, people would take necessary precautions (hells, any dignitary worth his status already does). The medical industry would get a boost with all the poisonings too. Of course, one would have to regulate it (set a base price, no use of biological/nuclear weapons, etc.), and require registration (with very, very severe punishments for those found out who are not registered). I see no problem with this. Assassination seems like a completely justifiable and normal method of gaining something, to me. Of course, one would make it illegal to murder, yet. Just legalize the existence of the assassins, and only charge them if caught during the crime. Make it worth the money you're paying for it. Give the police a bit of exercise, keep politicians a bit more honest and on their toes, etc.etc.etc. I'd think 100k would be a good minimum price for any important (i.e., have a federal job), and 50k for "normal" people (countless justifiable reasons for this).

In short, I really don't have much problem with assassinations. I mean, sure, I wouldn't want to see a few people died, but they apparently stepped on someone's toes on their way. Meh.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 6:22 am UTC

smw543 wrote:I have to assume that since you specifically name WWII, you're argument must revolve around something unique to that war (i.e.: not military casualties). I assume you're referring to the atomic bombing of Japan, but the way you phrase it sounds like you could just as easily be talking about the Final Solution.


Um, huh? Why in the world would you assume any of that? An example does not have to be 'unique' in order to make the point that is being put forth. In fact, that's probably one of the most ridiculous assumptions I've come across in any argument...

smw543 wrote:This is why your English teacher always told you not to be "vague."


Being an English teacher who himself often tells his students not to be 'vague', I also make sure to tell my students to use some common sense in interpreting a statement, and to avoid making baseless (let alone ridiculous) assumptions. Well, that last one is mostly geared toward my LSAT students.

For example, when someone mentions that the killing of people led to the resolution of a problem in WWII, common sense should make it obvious that the problem that was most notably "solved" within the war was that of the war itself, by virtue of allied victory, that among other tactics, used plenty of killing.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Steve Zissou » Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:43 pm UTC

Immortal_Z wrote:I look at assassinations, through my very demented vision of the world, as a business. everything in the world can be looked at as a business, and I heavily encourage it. You take an assassin, make sure he's bloody good at his job (ex-snipers or poison experts would be best), and pay him to kill someone. The pay is, of course, scaled depending on risk involved for the assassination firm and the risk for one of its very good (and rare, considering what it takes to be a solo sniper), and the importance of the person being assassinated (figured in extras, like ammunition and any bonus packages like clean up and, of course, supply costs). I am sadly serious. Privatize assassinations. They would be too expensive for regular people (unless the particular firm was very cheap/bad), and after a bit, people would take necessary precautions (hells, any dignitary worth his status already does). The medical industry would get a boost with all the poisonings too. Of course, one would have to regulate it (set a base price, no use of biological/nuclear weapons, etc.), and require registration (with very, very severe punishments for those found out who are not registered). I see no problem with this. Assassination seems like a completely justifiable and normal method of gaining something, to me. Of course, one would make it illegal to murder, yet. Just legalize the existence of the assassins, and only charge them if caught during the crime. Make it worth the money you're paying for it. Give the police a bit of exercise, keep politicians a bit more honest and on their toes, etc.etc.etc. I'd think 100k would be a good minimum price for any important (i.e., have a federal job), and 50k for "normal" people (countless justifiable reasons for this).

In short, I really don't have much problem with assassinations. I mean, sure, I wouldn't want to see a few people died, but they apparently stepped on someone's toes on their way. Meh.


The legalization of assassinations would introduce a incredibly large grey area into the already convoluted world of murder-related legal proceedings. What you're essentially proposing is licensing a group of people who are allowed to legally murder. It's a plan that would *never* be accepted in society. You'd essentially end up with a strife of glorified murders, done under the guise of an assassination, and lacking repercussions.

As others have mentioned, assassination differs from simple murder in that it is quick, secret, and relatively obfuscated in its execution. Licensing would essentially negate all three of these characteristics. No government or group would make use of a licensed assassin to achieve their means, particularly when said act can be tied directly back to them.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:12 pm UTC

Immortal, I am confused about two parts of your story. First, you say that murder should stay illegal, and that you oppose deaths. Then why would you want to make murder easier? Just charging them if caught is exactly the same as keeping it illegal, where getting caught is also needed to get punished...

The second: you are suggesting that certain murders would not be that bad, especially of politicians, because they must have stepped on someone toes. But I would say that stepping on the toes of people willing to murder is, at first approximation, a good thing. It seems hardly an improvement when politicians wouldn't dare to oppose Putin or the mob for fear of being killed.

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:17 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:An example does not have to be 'unique' in order to make the point that is being put forth. In fact, that's probably one of the most ridiculous assumptions I've come across in any argument...

At the risk of straying off-topic, no, what I said was not ridiculous. I didn't assume that's what you meant, I just pointed out that the vagueness allowed for a wide range of interpretations. That said, I did sort of overreact; I've been doing workshops in my writing class and I'm stuck in "editor" mode, where I have to point out every little thing.

Concerning Medvedyev, I don't know how much control those nogoodniks have over him. He's probably just one of their lackeys, but if we pretend that he was maybe a higher-up, or perhaps he legitimately won the election (and then fell under their power), then removing Putin could create enough instability in the group he represents that Medvedyev could purge them. This is almost certainly not an accurate description of the scenario in Russia; I meant it more as a hypothetical situation.

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby btilly » Tue Nov 11, 2008 9:36 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:For example, when someone mentions that the killing of people led to the resolution of a problem in WWII, common sense should make it obvious that the problem that was most notably "solved" within the war was that of the war itself, by virtue of allied victory, that among other tactics, used plenty of killing.

Not so. The big problem that was solved was the problem of Germany and Japan randomly invading other countries whenever they felt like it. You will note that the solution did not involve random invasions, and for our part we gave the invaded countries their freedom back and a big hand up when all was said and done.

Had the goal been ending the war itself, that would have been easy. Hitler offered England peace, and there is every reason to believe that that peace would have held for a reasonably long time. (His aspirations were to the east where he wanted to conquer enough territory to give the German people some "growing room".) Japan would also have been willing to let the USA sue for peace after Pearl Harbor. It would have cost us some territories (Hawaii, and probably Alaska at some point) but the war would have been over with far less effort.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Immortal_Z » Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:54 am UTC

Steve Zissou wrote:The legalization of assassinations would introduce a incredibly large grey area into the already convoluted world of murder-related legal proceedings. What you're essentially proposing is licensing a group of people who are allowed to legally murder. It's a plan that would *never* be accepted in society. You'd essentially end up with a strife of glorified murders, done under the guise of an assassination, and lacking repercussions.

As others have mentioned, assassination differs from simple murder in that it is quick, secret, and relatively obfuscated in its execution. Licensing would essentially negate all three of these characteristics. No government or group would make use of a licensed assassin to achieve their means, particularly when said act can be tied directly back to them.


I look at it like the discworld books by terry pratchett. a guild-type assassin's organization. a union, if you will. secrecy would still be kept in effect (as no one would be able to know who hired the assassins, or who the assassins actually are), and quickness would still have plenty use. repercussions would still exist plentily (the assassination guild would have to give up transaction records if one of it's agents was caught, so the employer could be properly persecuted as well). laws would, of course, have to be very, very clearly defined. i'd think it would bring some interesting things into politics, and maybe weed out some of the cowards and idiots, eh? we have a few billion people to mess with, we won't run out any time soon

Zamfir wrote:Immortal, I am confused about two parts of your story. First, you say that murder should stay illegal, and that you oppose deaths. Then why would you want to make murder easier? Just charging them if caught is exactly the same as keeping it illegal, where getting caught is also needed to get punished...

The second: you are suggesting that certain murders would not be that bad, especially of politicians, because they must have stepped on someone toes. But I would say that stepping on the toes of people willing to murder is, at first approximation, a good thing. It seems hardly an improvement when politicians wouldn't dare to oppose Putin or the mob for fear of being killed.


murder should remain illegal to give the assassins a reason to VERY CAREFULLY consider whether their pay would be worth getting caught. Different laws would be in place for the capture of a licensed assassin while he/she was doing his/her job, of course. The Spartans did not have laws against theft. They did not have a problem with theft, as long as a person didn't get CAUGHT thieving. there is a painting of a spartain boy stealing a fox or some other sort of dog, hiding it under his shirt, with it biting him, talking to an adult, still trying to hide the dog (keeping a fairly straight face, as well).

the stepping on toes wasn't me saying they need to be killed for that. that's me saying that people would have justifiable reasons for wanting a person dead. and the only deaths I appose are deaths of those close to me, simply because i am human and i would miss those people.

seems fairly straightforward

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:31 am UTC

Immortal_Z wrote:I am quite content with my views on the world x)

What I meant was that, based on your original post and this second post, you seem to have trouble separating fiction from reality. Assassin's guilds and such work fine within the constructs of fictional stories and can often serve some literary purpose (symbolism and other such things.) But this scenario you propose is completely ridiculous and sounds like something you'd here from... um... I don't actually know who I would expect to hear something like this from. Most kinds of crazy (sorry, mentally ill) people would have more transparent logic, while most children wouldn't have the necessary combination of ingenuity and disturbed nature to think of this.

I don't mean to sound like a condescending jackass, but this all sounds very delusional. (My first instinct was actually troll, but that doesn't seem likely any more.)
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:35 am UTC

btilly wrote:Not so. The big problem that was solved was the problem of Germany and Japan randomly invading other countries whenever they felt like it...


Which, as far as my point is concerned, is a distinction that has absolutely no bearing...?
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:07 pm UTC

Velifer wrote:All the discussion has focused on assassination of the head of state. Far more can be done through selectively removing key figures in the structure. The head of state (or organization) is a figurehead, an idea. Killing ideas is tough work. Instead, remove important figures in the government, destabilize, eliminate the people who make the current system work.

Be public. Be messy. Create fear, instability, a desire to move to unhealthy and untenable extremes. Make the targeted system so burdened with its own (in)security that it cannot put full resources into its goals. Bait the enemy, bring them out and expose their weaknesses. Capitalize on them. If you don't have an army, use the tools you have.

Assassination is a tool, and if you think the use of that tool justifies the means, well... you just justified it. (Whee! Tautologies!)


I think you're talking about insurgency and/or encouraging insurrection, assassination is just one of a large selection of highly effective methods employed by insurgents, as to whether the end can justify the means, that's a huge conditional statement.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Velifer » Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:40 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Velifer wrote:...(Whee! Tautologies!)
I think you're talking about insurgency and/or encouraging insurrection, assassination is just one of a large selection of highly effective methods employed by insurgents, as to whether the end can justify the means, that's a huge conditional statement.


I was addressing the OP. "Ever justified" is also conditional.

To make a specific case, the US chose war to depose Saddam Hussein, in keeping with our values and a general consensus among nations that going after leaders specifically is not too nice. We did break with convention there a bit, as G.W. Bush made it clear that removing Hussein specifically was a priority. So the US brought about insurrection/insurgency in Iraq without the (identified) use of assassination. Whacking Saddam may have been less messy for our troops, and certainly would have destabilized a nation held together by charisma and fear.

War has "rules." it also has lots of people with big guns stomping around. As such, the outcomes in the theater can be controlled to some degree. Assassination is more precise initially, but as a point intervention, the mid- to long term results are not as easy to control. There's also those pesky diplomatic issues around sanctioned assassination. To weigh justification for assassination, you'd also want to take these things into account.

(Also, I don't like what current usage has done with the term "insurgency." The US doesn't really have a counterinsurgency mission in Iraq, more a counter-counter-insurrection mission... Perhaps if there's interest this could be split into a different thread somewhere.)
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Ari » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:43 pm UTC

While I view assassination as better than war, (no incidental casualties, civilian, support, or combatant) it's still not very great, and as pointed out it has its own practical problems. (ie. you have to ensure that nobody would replace the target afterwards)

I think this really depends on your attitude towards killing in general. Personally speaking I don't believe killing is ever easily justified. (I have enough trouble with "leaving to die", for that matter) There are some extreme cases, of course. (dying or simply incredibly sick prisoners that you won't be able to attend to properly, certain types of euthanasia, etc...) I honestly can't see you getting a satisfyingly objective answer on this.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:34 pm UTC

As far as the Iraq War is concerned, for the record, the US actually did attempt assassination - in fact, that was the opening move of the war if anyone remembers...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Iraq_war_timeline

Wiki wrote:At approximately 02:30 UTC or about 90 minutes after the lapse of the 48-hour deadline, at 5:30 am local time, explosions were heard in Baghdad. At 03:15 UTC, or 10:15 p.m. EST, President George W. Bush stated that he had ordered the coalition to launch an "attack of opportunity" against specified targets in Iraq. According to The Pentagon, 36 Tomahawk missiles and two F-117 launched GBU-27 bombs had been used in this assault. It has become clear that the targets were high-level Iraqi governmental officials, including Saddam Hussein himself, and were based on specific intelligence which led the U.S. government to believe it knew his movements.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:48 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:As far as the Iraq War is concerned, for the record, the US actually did attempt assassination - in fact, that was the opening move of the war if anyone remembers...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Iraq_war_timeline

Wiki wrote:At approximately 02:30 UTC or about 90 minutes after the lapse of the 48-hour deadline, at 5:30 am local time, explosions were heard in Baghdad. At 03:15 UTC, or 10:15 p.m. EST, President George W. Bush stated that he had ordered the coalition to launch an "attack of opportunity" against specified targets in Iraq. According to The Pentagon, 36 Tomahawk missiles and two F-117 launched GBU-27 bombs had been used in this assault. It has become clear that the targets were high-level Iraqi governmental officials, including Saddam Hussein himself, and were based on specific intelligence which led the U.S. government to believe it knew his movements.


Guided bombing isn't an assassination, its a decapitation attack using aerial assets, it will almost certainly destroy significant amounts of materiel, and may well injure/maim/kill personnel other than the intended target.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Intercept » Wed Nov 12, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Yeah, legalized assassination would weed out all those crazies, like Lincoln and Kennedy.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:12 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Guided bombing isn't an assassination, its a decapitation attack using aerial assets, it will almost certainly destroy significant amounts of materiel, and may well injure/maim/kill personnel other than the intended target.


None of which are characteristics that run counter to what an assassination could be. An assassination is nothing more than the targeted killing of a specific individual.

There's no limitation on the weapons that can be used, on the of the amount of damage that is caused, nor on the collateral damage. Ever seen Munich (the recent one)? Those would all be considered assassinations, even though the hotel bomb took out half the hotel as well as the girl the guy was sleeping with...

Sure, the 'ideal' assassination is one in which only the target dies, noone else gets injured, and in which 'noise' is minimal, but that hardly restricts assassination to that.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:58 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:Guided bombing isn't an assassination, its a decapitation attack using aerial assets, it will almost certainly destroy significant amounts of materiel, and may well injure/maim/kill personnel other than the intended target.


None of which are characteristics that run counter to what an assassination could be. An assassination is nothing more than the targeted killing of a specific individual.

There's no limitation on the weapons that can be used, on the of the amount of damage that is caused, nor on the collateral damage. Ever seen Munich (the recent one)? Those would all be considered assassinations, even though the hotel bomb took out half the hotel as well as the girl the guy was sleeping with...

Sure, the 'ideal' assassination is one in which only the target dies, noone else gets injured, and in which 'noise' is minimal, but that hardly restricts assassination to that.


I'm sorry but the BGM-109 (Tomahawk) uses a 1080 pound warhead that can level most of a city block, that doesn't fit with any sane definition of targeted at a single person.

"Assassination" by an area effect weapon is probably the worst thing aerial combat has brought to the warfighting table... It is responsible for more civilian deaths (or collateral damage if you want to avoid the fact) than anything else. Missiles originally intended to destroy tactical nuclear missile launch detachments, communications centers and anti aircraft weapon emplacments, are not suitable weapons for assassinating a single person, it loses the hearts and minds of the populace, and thus defeats a large part of using assassination as part of any bigger political play.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:06 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:I'm sorry but the BGM-109 (Tomahawk) uses a 1080 pound warhead that can level most of a city block, that doesn't fit with any sane definition of targeted at a single person.


Sure it does - simply by virtue of the fact that it doesn't necessarily contradict any such definition. You can target and kill a single person, while collaterally killing six dozen. A poorly executed assassination is an assassination nevertheless.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:"Assassination" by an area effect weapon is probably the worst thing aerial combat has brought to the warfighting table... It is responsible for more civilian deaths (or collateral damage if you want to avoid the fact) than anything else. Missiles originally intended to destroy tactical nuclear missile launch detachments, communications centers and anti aircraft weapon emplacments, are not suitable weapons for assassinating a single person, it loses the hearts and minds of the populace, and thus defeats a large part of using assassination as part of any bigger political play.


Again - the only thing you've established is that such a missile is not the ideal method to assassinate an individual (which on its own, is questionable, given the circumstances), not that it cannot be used to do so.

A specifically targeted killing of the leader of a country is an assassination of that leader - whether by a single, well placed bullet, or by a nuclear warhead.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:19 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:A specifically targeted killing of the leader of a country is an assassination of that leader - whether by a single, well placed bullet, or by a nuclear warhead.


The term decapitation strike although originally hailing from nuclear warfare, is the correct way of referring to eliminating a leader or group of leaders with this level of force and inaccuracy.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:57 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:The term decapitation strike although originally hailing from nuclear warfare, is the correct way of referring to eliminating a leader or group of leaders with this level of force and inaccuracy.
We should probably avoid turning this thread into an argument over semantics. Your point is a good one if phrased as an argument for why certain types of assassinations are not justified (or at least harder to justify,) but claiming that it's different because it's technically a "decapitation strike" detracts from the argument.

An assassination is defined by intent, not result. Even if we were to nuke an entire city and kill several million people for the sole purpose of killing one person, it would still be an assassination.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:01 pm UTC

smw543 wrote:An assassination is defined by intent, not result. Even if we were to nuke an entire city and kill several million people for the sole purpose of killing one person, it would still be an assassination.


No, THAT would be an atrocity.

But, yes I may have got a bit too deep into semantic pedantry.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:53 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:No, THAT would be an atrocity.


All you're doing is setting up false dichotomies. Whether or not something is an 'atrocity' or a 'decapitation strike' has little bearing on the fact that these would still be assassinations; the terms are not mutually exclusive - an assassination can be atrocious, just as an atrocity can come in the form of an assassination.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Immortal_Z » Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:03 pm UTC

Intercept wrote:Yeah, legalized assassination would weed out all those crazies, like Lincoln and Kennedy.

stepping around the bombing terminology, Lincoln and Kennedy were just regular murders.

Actually, where does one draw the line between a first degree murder and an assassination?

and to smw, I have a very low opinion of the world, legalized assassinations are not, i don't believe, a result of a mix of craziness. After my post, I went about writing down a very long system of laws regarding it, and I believe that, given enough time for adjustment, it would work quite well in the end. I just used discworld as an example
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:07 pm UTC

yoni45 wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:No, THAT would be an atrocity.


All you're doing is setting up false dichotomies. Whether or not something is an 'atrocity' or a 'decapitation strike' has little bearing on the fact that these would still be assassinations; the terms are not mutually exclusive - an assassination can be atrocious, just as an atrocity can come in the form of an assassination.

Bringing Nuclear Warfare into the debate is several steps too far into the absurd.

I admit that I got a bit tied up in semantics, but I firmly believe that if a more suitable term exists to describe something accurately, its worth taking the time to fit it into the correct sub category. I mean its only another 12 chars, which is what; a seconds extra typing for a lot more precision.

Edit:
Immortal_Z wrote:Actually, where does one draw the line between a first degree murder and an assassination?

and to smw, I have a very low opinion of the world, legalized assassinations are not, i don't believe, a result of a mix of craziness. After my post, I went about writing down a very long system of laws regarding it, and I believe that, given enough time for adjustment, it would work quite well in the end. I just used discworld as an example


There is no line, an assassination would be a first degree murder, unless the target was a valid enemy combatant in time of war, or posed a significant and immediate threat to the public, such that the security forces were able to prove to a coroner that it was a lawful killing.

As for your "assassins guild"* idea, Isn't that one of the potential progressions of the less reputable PMC's which are, really just a very thinly veiled legalization of mercenaries as it is.

*Poor choice of phraseology.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Mane » Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:27 pm UTC

Immortal_Z wrote:Actually, where does one draw the line between a first degree murder and an assassination?


All assassinations are murders, but not all murders are assassinations.

The difference is that you're killing someone currently in a political office, for political reasons that may or may not circumvent that country's political structure and process.

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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Immortal_Z » Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:32 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:
Immortal_Z wrote:Actually, where does one draw the line between a first degree murder and an assassination?

and to smw, I have a very low opinion of the world, legalized assassinations are not, i don't believe, a result of a mix of craziness. After my post, I went about writing down a very long system of laws regarding it, and I believe that, given enough time for adjustment, it would work quite well in the end. I just used discworld as an example


There is no line, an assassination would be a first degree murder, unless the target was a valid enemy combatant in time of war, or posed a significant and immediate threat to the public, such that the security forces were able to prove to a coroner that it was a lawful killing.

As for your "assassins guild"* idea, Isn't that one of the potential progressions of the less reputable PMC's which are, really just a very thinly veiled legalization of mercenaries as it is.

*Poor choice of phraseology.


what is wrong with mercenaries?

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Mane wrote:
Immortal_Z wrote:Actually, where does one draw the line between a first degree murder and an assassination?


All assassinations are murders, but not all murders are assassinations.

The difference is that you're killing someone currently in a political office, for political reasons that may or may not circumvent that country's political structure and process.


surely there must be other cases of assassination besides of political figures
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:50 pm UTC

Immortal_Z wrote:what is wrong with mercenaries?


To quote Kit, a former mercenary, on Mercernaries* - "Those that kill for money are Professionals, Those that kill for pleasure are psychopaths, and Those that kill for both are mercenaries"

Some Mercs' are just men who only ever wanted to join the army, were "Green as fuck" and when the army was through with them, all they knew how to do was to fight. They're not the problem, in fact its people like this that proved their worth to the international community in their attempts to aleviate some of the bloodiest conflicts in africas history during the 1980's.

Its that second type that worries me, the people who just want to kill, to be beyond the law, the Armed Forces weed out these people, PMC's don't.


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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Immortal_Z » Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:42 am UTC

one would think that if mercenaries would be put back into effect (I.E., once WWIII comes up), they'd regulate them a bit better. mandatory psyche tests and all that. nothing extremely extensive, but enough to get out the real crazies
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Thu Nov 13, 2008 2:21 am UTC

Immortal_Z wrote:one would think that if mercenaries would be put back into effect (I.E., once WWIII comes up), they'd regulate them a bit better. mandatory psyche tests and all that. nothing extremely extensive, but enough to get out the real crazies


My god, you seem to have absolutely no clue, no clue at all, and little grip on the nicety's of world politics and what that means for war in the modern age.

I now concur with the previous posters responses to you.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Immortal_Z » Thu Nov 13, 2008 2:53 am UTC

fair enough

also: the companies, not the armies
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Thu Nov 13, 2008 3:35 am UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Bringing Nuclear Warfare into the debate is several steps too far into the absurd.


Unless you can provide relevant reasons for disqualification, there is nothing to substantiate "too absurd", as the point that is made remains - an assassination is an assassination, whether executed ideally or not.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:...but I firmly believe that if a more suitable term exists to describe something accurately, its worth taking the time to fit it into the correct sub category...


Again, that's a false dichotomy, and furthermore, when a more specific sub category is not relevant to the argument at hand, then it also becomes an attempt to shift the subject.

In a discussion about whether or not food should be carefully inspected before consumption, claiming that a banana is not a 'food' because it happens to be a 'fruit' (which is a more specific sub category), is first of all setting up a false dichotomy, as the categorization as a 'fruit' does not mean something is not a 'food' (just as categorization as a 'decapitation attack' does not preclude something from being an 'assassination'), and second of all, completely irrelevant, as it's categorization as a fruit has no bearing on the argument regarding inspecting food (just as categorization as a 'decapitation attack' has no bearing on a discussion regarding assassination and its effectiveness).

Mane wrote:All assassinations are murders, but not all murders are assassinations.


I wouldn't actually say that's true - an assassination is not necessarily a murder, such as within the context of a war, in which local criminal laws don't really apply, while in international law, assassinations aren't really illegal per se.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:51 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:
TheKrikkitWars wrote:Bringing Nuclear Warfare into the debate is several steps too far into the absurd.


Unless you can provide relevant reasons for disqualification, there is nothing to substantiate "too absurd", as the point that is made remains - an assassination is an assassination, whether executed ideally or not.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:...but I firmly believe that if a more suitable term exists to describe something accurately, its worth taking the time to fit it into the correct sub category...


Again, that's a false dichotomy, and furthermore, when a more specific sub category is not relevant to the argument at hand, then it also becomes an attempt to shift the subject.

In a discussion about whether or not food should be carefully inspected before consumption, claiming that a banana is not a 'food' because it happens to be a 'fruit' (which is a more specific sub category), is first of all setting up a false dichotomy, as the categorization as a 'fruit' does not mean something is not a 'food' (just as categorization as a 'decapitation attack' does not preclude something from being an 'assassination'), and second of all, completely irrelevant, as it's categorization as a fruit has no bearing on the argument regarding inspecting food (just as categorization as a 'decapitation attack' has no bearing on a discussion regarding assassination and its effectiveness).


Just because pure logic says something is correct (the possibility of assassination by nuclear weapon for instance) doesn't mean that it is sensible or indeed worthwhile.

Equally, that the banana is fruit is relevant to the discussion on inspecting food, as the way in which you'd check your banana is good to eat, probably differs from how you'd check a chunk of beef, that one is fruit and the other meat allows more specific observations about what makes each good or bad to eat.

In the case of Assassination vs. Decapitation attack its the difference between removing one person in a body bag, or spending hours picking up the charred body parts of men, women and children whilst locals enraged at the actions of your superiors try to kill you as vengeance for the innocents killed. Sure they both technically achieved the same thing... But I think there's some sort of difference, don't you?
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:43 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Just because pure logic says something is correct (the possibility of assassination by nuclear weapon for instance) doesn't mean that it is sensible or indeed worthwhile.


I don't mean to be patronizing ... then don't be. -Az

Whether or not an assassination is worthwhile or sensible has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is an assassination.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:Equally, that the banana is fruit is relevant to the discussion on inspecting food, as the way in which you'd check your banana is good to eat...


Except it's not a discussion "on inspecting food" in general. When there is a specific discussion, you can't expect people to take you seriously when you bring in points that are tangentially relevant at best.

The discussion is about whether or not food should be inspected, not on the methods of inspection, which are again, completely irrelevant (similarly to your claims of what assassinations are and aren't sensible in an argument over what is and isn't an assassination). Arguing that bananas shouldn't be inspected because they are not a food (on the basis of them being a 'fruit') is the logical equivalent of your claim that the attack on Saddam was not an assassination (on the basis of it being a 'decapitation attack'), as far as ridiculousness is concerned.

TheKrikkitWars wrote:In the case of Assassination vs. Decapitation attack its the difference between removing one person in a body bag, or spending hours picking up the charred body parts of men, women and children whilst locals enraged at the actions of your superiors try to kill you as vengeance for the innocents killed. Sure they both technically achieved the same thing... But I think there's some sort of difference, don't you?


Difference? Sure. Relevant difference? No. Why? Because once again, taking into account all those after-effects, nevertheless:

Has no bearing on whether or not this would fall under the definition of an assassination.
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Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:02 pm UTC

Krikkit - if you want to maintain this argument over the distinction between assassinations and decapitation strikes, make a new thread on the Language/Linguistics board; this discussion has moved the thread way too far from the original topic of the justifiability of assassinations. Besides, Yoni's banana argument was completely sound, and when you start bringing in emotional factors and trigger words like "atrocity" it makes it hard to take your point seriously.

Moving on; I'll reiterate that the whole "decapitation strike" thing indirectly suggests an important issue; assuming you think assassination is justified in a given scenario, where do you draw the line on collateral damage? Most people would say that, given the chance, assassinating Hitler would have been a good thing. What if the only way to do it required the deaths of 1,000,000 civilians? Or 10,000,000? (Of course, the relative "justifiableness" can't be quantified in this sense. The only way to establish an objective opinion would be through the use of some mix of utilitarianism, statistics, and calculus. And that's almost as far-fetched as an assassin's guild :wink: )
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