Assassination, ever justified?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

greeneggsnoham
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:29 am UTC

Assassination, ever justified?

Postby greeneggsnoham » Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:58 am UTC

Why does assassination have such a bad rap?

Obviously it's had it's bad moments - JFK, MLK etc. However, what if one of the attempts on Hitler had succeeded? Or more recently, what if instead of invading, the US had focused its efforts a little more and had Saddam killed?

Yes, I realize that he might have just been replaced by another Saddam follower, but considering the US has lost more than 2000 troops there, the number of Iraqi civilians deaths is between 80 to 100 000, and terrorism is on the rise rather than decline, wouldn't it have been better to knock a couple of Iraqi rulers off instead?

I do realize this is hindsight, but the question is still valid. Why chose war instead of assassination?

User avatar
Vox Imperatoris
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:42 am UTC
Location: Alabama

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:06 am UTC

Yes, in the same instances when capital punishment would be, and when it is not feasible to actually apprehend the person and conduct a proper trial.

Whether it is a good idea is another matter entirely. Often it is a terrible idea because, as you said, another ruler could rise up and take his place, but there is also the effect of martyrdom, which could even make the target country stronger than before. I'd say that it's only a good option when there is an oppressed (and friendly) majority waiting for a chance to overthrow the government, otherwise you don't really accomplish anything.
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
17/♂/Heterosexual/US/Atheist/Objectivist
Tigion wrote:Gods, [Mafia] is like poker, 'cept harder.

Nu Știu Să Fiu Numai Pentru Tine—Andreea Bălan—Amazing song! Verrückte Jungs—Blümchen—My avatar.
Image

Felixworks
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Felixworks » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:09 am UTC

Not especially related but still a noteworthy book, The Assassination Bureau by Jack London gives an interesting view on assassination.

You have a good tactical point but from a PR standpoint, assassination is seen as low, dirty, and evil from many people's perspectives. Even if a war is essentially fought against a single person, US citizens are more comfortable with the traditional bomb-them-all-to-hell than a "shady" assassination.

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Malice » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:10 am UTC

Assassination is, politically, a bit like nuclear weapons. They're great for our side, but what if the other side decides to start using them too? We'll be blown the fuck up.

It's better for all involved if countries agree to keep assassinations off the table. Otherwise, when we take out their bad leaders, they'll take out our good leaders, and nobody will be happy.
Image

greeneggsnoham
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 5:29 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby greeneggsnoham » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:36 am UTC

All good points above that I hadn't thought of, mainly because I'm a touch addled by the scotch I'm drinking.

However, I'm not sure that the risk of reprisal assassinations is really an argument. Going to war risks the same thing, really. Iraq and the Baath party obviously could not have staged an attack on the US, but it might have been able to organize assassination attempts.

I guess war is probably also easier some times, if you believe that there have been numerous failed attempts on Castro and Saddam.

If this were a direct democracy, and if it were possible to vote on such things, would you have voted to go to war, assassinate, or none of the above for Iraq, using the information we had on WMD and Iraq's threat at the time?

think I would have chosen assassination. There was plenty of evidence to warrant a death sentence for Saddam, and there wasn't a clear successor, so it might have resulted in a shake up of the Baath party.

User avatar
Dezign
Posts: 88
Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2008 3:03 am UTC
Location: North of the Land o' Fruits 'n' Nuts

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Dezign » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:55 am UTC

Or you could try to find some way to dethrone an official that doesn't involve killing anybody, in an assassination or a war.

Of course that's probably not in the spirit of what you were looking for, judging by
Why chose war instead of assassination?

Seems like a pretty similar thread to the current topic on the justification of war, though.
...what if instead of invading, the US had focused its efforts a little more and had Saddam killed?

What if the US had broadened its efforts a little more, and attempted continued weapons-facility inspections (even if it just served to shut down their ability to make weapons in the short run while diplomacy kept going on), or furthered cultural outreach programs and built up trade pathways so the country would experience a cultural change that would cause them to peacefully depose their dictator at some point in the future, and at the very least prevent him from harming people on the way there? Exporting teachers and merchants can have a much stronger, if more subtle, effect than exporting any number of bullets, from one to a million.

User avatar
Malice
Posts: 3894
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:37 am UTC
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Contact:

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Malice » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:59 am UTC

greeneggsnoham wrote:However, I'm not sure that the risk of reprisal assassinations is really an argument. Going to war risks the same thing, really. Iraq and the Baath party obviously could not have staged an attack on the US, but it might have been able to organize assassination attempts.


The idea is that Iraq and the Baath party won't try to assassinate our leaders if we don't try to assassinate theirs. Even if we go to war against them. There are all sorts of these agreements between otherwise opposed nations. Nuclear weapons is one; another is the treatment of prisoners of war. These rules are good.

If this were a direct democracy, and if it were possible to vote on such things, would you have voted to go to war, assassinate, or none of the above for Iraq, using the information we had on WMD and Iraq's threat at the time?


None of the above. If Iraq had WMDs, going to war was the one thing most likely to provoke their immediate use.

I think I would have chosen assassination. There was plenty of evidence to warrant a death sentence for Saddam, and there wasn't a clear successor, so it might have resulted in a shake up of the Baath party.


The problem is that this short-term goal comes with long-term costs. It is more important overall to preserve a sense of sovereignty, the idea that what goes on in my country is far enough removed from your control that you can't slaughter my elected officials just because you don't agree with their policies, than it is for us to make the short-term gains ignoring that sovereignty can give us.
Image

Iv
Posts: 1207
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:08 pm UTC
Location: Lyon, France

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Iv » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:02 am UTC

I think that right now, if he is still alive, Kim Jong Il would be a perfect assassination target. It could very well destabilize the North Korean government completely.

User avatar
Griffin
Posts: 1363
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:46 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Griffin » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:21 am UTC

The biggest problem with assassination is, if you're in a war with someone, and you kill their leaders... well, now you cant actually WIN the war, because there's no one with the authority to surrender!

In addition, you've just mobilized the population against you.

If a leader surrenders, the people stop fighting, for the most part. If a leader dies, then you have to make each individual group surrender independently or kill them all, all the way down.

This is, historically, why assassination is relatively rare - unless there is someone lined up to become the next ruler and setting that person up is your goal. As a tool of war, it just doesn't work very well.
Bdthemag: "I don't always GM, but when I do I prefer to put my player's in situations that include pain and torture. Stay creative my friends."

Bayobeasts - the Pokemon: Orthoclase project.

Felixworks
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Felixworks » Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:20 am UTC

Griffin wrote:The biggest problem with assassination is, if you're in a war with someone, and you kill their leaders... well, now you cant actually WIN the war, because there's no one with the authority to surrender!

In addition, you've just mobilized the population against you.

If a leader surrenders, the people stop fighting, for the most part. If a leader dies, then you have to make each individual group surrender independently or kill them all, all the way down.

This is, historically, why assassination is relatively rare - unless there is someone lined up to become the next ruler and setting that person up is your goal. As a tool of war, it just doesn't work very well.

I guess it's only useful on the extremes of what you want to happen. Either you want to collapse a country's infrastructure or you want to replace the leader with your own person in order to control the infrastructure.

User avatar
22/7
I'm pretty sure I have "The Slavery In My Asshole" on DVD.
Posts: 6475
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:30 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby 22/7 » Mon Nov 03, 2008 8:29 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:The biggest problem with assassination is, if you're in a war with someone, and you kill their leaders... well, now you cant actually WIN the war, because there's no one with the authority to surrender!
Wait, what? How many assassinations are you talking about here?
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

User avatar
Grave
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed May 07, 2008 9:31 pm UTC
Location: MA

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Grave » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:15 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Wait, what? How many assassinations are you talking about here?

Probably depends on how authoritarian the government is. Kill the dictator of <insert dictatorship here> and you might have trouble finding anyone with the authority to surrender the entire country, especially if various generals decide to go warlord. Kill the US president, and you still have the VP and everyone else in the line of succession who can take charge.

btilly
Posts: 1877
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:08 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby btilly » Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:48 pm UTC

greeneggsnoham wrote:Why does assassination have such a bad rap?

Obviously it's had it's bad moments - JFK, MLK etc. However, what if one of the attempts on Hitler had succeeded? Or more recently, what if instead of invading, the US had focused its efforts a little more and had Saddam killed?

Power is frequently acquired and maintained by methods that all would deplore if they realized they were in use. That is why Machiavelli's The Prince was so roundly disliked - because he was direct and honest about how politics was actually conducted. And his techniques are still effectively used today. And yes, every great power uses assassination today.

However that said, what goes around, comes around. It is a tragedy that JFK was killed by an assassin. However JFK massively increased the role of covert operations, including assassinations. (One of his covert operations, a little police action in Vietnam, famously got out of hand. In part due to a military coup in South Vietnam that JFK supported.) So there is a certain amount of justice in his having gone that way.

And speaking of going around and coming around, in 1959 the USA backed a failed assassination plot against General Abdul Karim Qassim of Iraq. Involved was one Saddam Hussein. He returned in a US-backed 1963 coup. Just look how that worked out for us...
greeneggsnoham wrote:Yes, I realize that he might have just been replaced by another Saddam follower, but considering the US has lost more than 2000 troops there, the number of Iraqi civilians deaths is between 80 to 100 000, and terrorism is on the rise rather than decline, wouldn't it have been better to knock a couple of Iraqi rulers off instead?

Um, your Iraq figures are off. The number of [url="http://www.iraqbodycount.org/"]documented[/url] civilian deaths is in the range you describe. To be documented the incident must be independently confirmed by 2 different media outlets. (The range is because different media outlets often report different numbers of dead for the same incident.) Unfortunately most civilian deaths are not documented by the media. Independent attempts to estimate the true civilian body count suggest that the toll is in the range of a million or so.

greeneggsnoham wrote:I do realize this is hindsight, but the question is still valid. Why chose war instead of assassination?

Internal documentation from the US government says that the USA went into Iraq with fairly detailed plans for how the country should be run afterwards. Read Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse for more. Such plans can only be implemented by an invasion.

But even were it not so, Saddam Hussein was not an easy assassination target. He was well aware of how many wanted him dead. He was painfully aware from personal experience of how willing the USA is to use assassination. There are well-known techniques for avoiding assassination and Hussein used them all. Including avoiding public appearances, using tight security, having an unpredictable schedule, using body doubles, and so on. The USA would be more likely to fail than succeed. And in failing, the USA would lose public prestige, as it did with the CIA's many unsuccessful assassination attempts on Fidel Castro of Cuba.
Some of us exist to find out what can and can't be done.

Others exist to hold the beer.

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Kachi » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:24 am UTC

Hm, it would be pretty interesting if war were settled like a game of capture the flag. Civilian/military deaths are off limits, first one to lose their ruler loses the war.

Of course, it wouldn't stand up to the machiavellian principles of war.

Wellan
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:16 am UTC
Location: Dennis

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Wellan » Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:22 am UTC

In some cases, assassination can be a good alternative to all-out war. (That's "good" as in "one death isn't as bad as a thousand". VERY few deaths are inherently good events.)

The big question is: is assassination outside of wartime ever justified? I can't think of any cases in which it would be, though I can't think through every case. If an important person is just too dangerous to leave alone (which is very rare; think Louis XVI*), kidnap is an option.

If you're trying to incapacitate someone for a good reason (say, they're trying to kill you)and you accidentally kill them...that's bad, but it's forgivable. If someone intentionally kills someone, something VERY wrong has happened (in some circumstances, the killer might not be the one in the wrong, but nevertheless, something went wrong).


*This is assuming that Louis XVI was as tyrannical as he was cracked up to be by some. He might not really have been.
SIGNATURE has caused a GENERAL PROTECTION FAULT in CREATIVE PROCESSES.
Error code 2309: Signature writer's block.

User avatar
Dream
WINNING
Posts: 4338
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:20 pm UTC
Location: The Hollow Scene Epic

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Dream » Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:29 am UTC

Kachi wrote:Hm, it would be pretty interesting if war were settled like a game of capture the flag. Civilian/military deaths are off limits, first one to lose their ruler loses the war.

Of course, it wouldn't stand up to the machiavellian principles of war.

Mock battles were actually very common in tribal cultures. I believe the Maoris still practised them to an extent when they were "discovered". As I recall, and it's been quite a while since I read on it, they are common in societies that are regularly under pressure in both population and territorial terms, like Pacific Islanders. Basically the laws of war taken to an extreme to settle necessary territorial disputes without unnecessary deaths. It's elaborated in John Keegan's "The Face Of Battle".
I knew a woman once, but she died soon after.

Neon Rain
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:14 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Neon Rain » Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:16 am UTC

At least for the US, assassinations of enemies/terrorists/dictators aren't really an option anyway because the CIA sucks at doing them. How many times have we tried to kill Castro? And while not exactly assassinations, most of our special fancy-schmancy "covert ops" and missile strikes just end up killing random civilians anyway.

As for mock battles, I think the logical conclusion would be to challenge Al-Qaeda to a Counterstrike tournament.

User avatar
emceng
Posts: 3167
Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 9:38 pm UTC
Location: State of Hockey
Contact:

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby emceng » Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:59 pm UTC

greeneggsnoham wrote:All good points above that I hadn't thought of, mainly because I'm a touch addled by the scotch I'm drinking.

However, I'm not sure that the risk of reprisal assassinations is really an argument. Going to war risks the same thing, really. Iraq and the Baath party obviously could not have staged an attack on the US, but it might have been able to organize assassination attempts.



But there are other things that affect this. How much support can you get for an assassination, versus a war? Were any of America's leaders ever truly in danger from the war?

Realistically, the chance of a high US official dying from an assassination attempt, especially from another country, is really low. Saying that it is a legitimate tool would cause many issues though.
When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. - CS Lewis

User avatar
Vox Imperatoris
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:42 am UTC
Location: Alabama

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:03 am UTC

Neon Rain wrote:As for mock battles, I think the logical conclusion would be to challenge Al-Qaeda to a Counterstrike tournament.

Don't worry ma'am; I'm from the internet.
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
17/♂/Heterosexual/US/Atheist/Objectivist
Tigion wrote:Gods, [Mafia] is like poker, 'cept harder.

Nu Știu Să Fiu Numai Pentru Tine—Andreea Bălan—Amazing song! Verrückte Jungs—Blümchen—My avatar.
Image

paper_nautilus
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:23 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby paper_nautilus » Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:45 am UTC

Eeesh! Okay you got me! This thread turned me from a reader into participation. I find some of the answers in this thread really disturbing.

One thing at first: killing people does not solve problems. We could argue about death penalty here - as assasination is a kind of this - but even if it would be okay to kill somebody for what he has done there is even one argument that I find more important: the rule of law.

Everybody accused of a crime has to see a fair trial, no matter what he did. Here in Germany it's even illegal to call somebody a murder unless he is convicted - even if it is obvious. This might sound ridiculous and I agree that some political leaders did load guilt on them without any doubt. But this kind of justice is neccesary to prevent premature law execution. Personally I find it quite nice that there is no German execution squad that could knock at my door at any time and tell me they'll kill me because some political leader believes I'm a bad person. [1] We had those squads in Germany 65 years ago, believe me, it isn't a period we're proud of today.

So let's come to the question: Who would be legally able to pull of such a lawsuit? Well, it's damn sure not the US, I'm sorry. You are not the world police. It's the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. Instead of screwing each other up the countries of the world could do so much better if they would talk and accept a central legal entity. And the western nations shoud be a prototype for this idea.

Now, with all those ideas coming out of my mind I think I might answer to the initial question: No. Assassination is not justified. It is a way of showing weakness. By performing them the state surrenders to criminals, using their methods instead of legal ones.

Yours
benjamin

Edit: [1] I just noticed that I subconsciously followed Godwins law, I apologize. Please leave this sentence out of discussion.
Last edited by paper_nautilus on Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:19 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

Hergonan
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:05 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Hergonan » Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:07 am UTC

greeneggsnoham wrote:Yes, I realize that he might have just been replaced by another Saddam follower, but considering the US has lost more than 2000 troops there, the number of Iraqi civilians deaths is between 80 to 100 000, and terrorism is on the rise rather than decline, wouldn't it have been better to knock a couple of Iraqi rulers off instead?

I do realize this is hindsight, but the question is still valid. Why chose war instead of assassination?


Well, that brings other questions, such as "why saddam", since there are many other places in the world which had people worse than Saddam.
However, they don't have that much oil.
The war in Iraq was for oil, in my opinion.

I am against killing. Killing in the name of anything. I'm usually against violence.
Going to war against a country with the reason of "peace" is just bulls**t.
That applies for "prevention of terrorism" as well. War is terrorism, war causes terror, chaos and pain.

Well, if there are only two options: assassination or war; then I am for assassination... if it's going to prevent casualties... if it's going to result in the death of fewer people.

User avatar
22/7
I'm pretty sure I have "The Slavery In My Asshole" on DVD.
Posts: 6475
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:30 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby 22/7 » Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:03 pm UTC

Hergonan wrote:I am against killing. Killing in the name of anything. I'm usually against violence.
Going to war against a country with the reason of "peace" is just bulls**t.
That applies for "prevention of terrorism" as well. War is terrorism, war causes terror, chaos and pain.
What would you call the US involvement in WWII (against Germany, not Japan)?
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

juststrange
Posts: 296
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:57 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby juststrange » Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:47 pm UTC

paper_nautilus wrote:One thing at first: killing people does not solve problems.



While I disagree with that (there are some people that ARE problems in and of themselves), I agree with your arguement beyond it. Assassination removes the legitamacy of it. If you, as a government, put said person on trial on the world stage and take him out, then you are a hero, and an example for the way things ought to be done (be the change you want to see in the world). Assassinations are dirty, quiet, and not something any country wants to claim/put thier name on. Its bad for press.

Hergonan
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:05 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Hergonan » Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:47 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:What would you call the US involvement in WWII (against Germany, not Japan)?

There, the reason wasn't peace.
As far as I know, Germany declared war on the US, so the US decided to act.
I can guess the reason there was self-defence.

If we stay on the topic, a more ideal action would be assassination of Hitler and the people who would replace Hitler.

However, I don't think it would be very possible.

If we go back in time from then,
Germany declared war on the US, why?
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On December 8, Congress declared a state of war with Japan; three days later its allies Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

http://www.usinfo.pl/aboutusa/history/warII.htm

Okay, why did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor?
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour for a number of reasons, the main being President Roosevelt banning all exports of scrap iron, steel and oil to Japan. Japan had lost more than 90% of its oil supply). Other causes which sparked the attack included; the belief that Japan was becoming encircled by Western powers, the fear of resources such as oil running low, the strong determination of advancing in the East Asia region, the United States demanding Japanese withdrawal from Indo-China, the United States opposing Japanese expansion and Japans demands were not being achieved by diplomacy. The Japanese were keen on expanding their empire and had to make a decision between surrendering or going to war with the United States.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_the_J ... arl_Harbor

So it seems Japan attacked because they didn't like what US did. US responded, then Japan's allies responded, then US responded to them (includes: Germany).

If we go back further, we get Hitler.
Why did Hitler do what he did?
There are many reasons for that...

But I know that they aren't for a "good" cause, in my beliefs.

User avatar
22/7
I'm pretty sure I have "The Slavery In My Asshole" on DVD.
Posts: 6475
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:30 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby 22/7 » Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:10 pm UTC

Yeah, but Germany declaring war on the US during WWII isn't particularly relevant if they're not invading the US. Japan actually attacked the US on US soil, but from what I remember Germany was pretty tied up in Europe at the time (as was Italy). I've never heard of any direct attacks on the US by Germany or Italy until we got to Europe. If I'm wrong, by all means let me know. I don't claim a particularly thorough knowledge of WWII.
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

Hergonan
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:05 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Hergonan » Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:31 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:Yeah, but Germany declaring war on the US during WWII isn't particularly relevant if they're not invading the US. Japan actually attacked the US on US soil, but from what I remember Germany was pretty tied up in Europe at the time (as was Italy). I've never heard of any direct attacks on the US by Germany or Italy until we got to Europe. If I'm wrong, by all means let me know. I don't claim a particularly thorough knowledge of WWII.


In my opinion Germany and Italy declared war on US, but not because they wanted to invade it.
http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/timeline/411208a.html
http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1941/411211d.html

I imagine it as a way of proving Japan that they're allies.

There could be other reasons.
http://www.taphilo.com/history/WWII/Ger ... tion.shtml

Also, I'm not trying to say I know everything about the world wars.
But I do love Google.

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Kachi » Thu Nov 06, 2008 12:57 am UTC

Mock battles were actually very common in tribal cultures. I believe the Maoris still practised them to an extent when they were "discovered". As I recall, and it's been quite a while since I read on it, they are common in societies that are regularly under pressure in both population and territorial terms, like Pacific Islanders. Basically the laws of war taken to an extreme to settle necessary territorial disputes without unnecessary deaths. It's elaborated in John Keegan's "The Face Of Battle".


Ah, that's interesting. What kind of mock battles did they typically use? It seems as those these types of resolutions may be more common once cultures are more civil globally, but currently there are just too many problems with famine, starvation, etc.

btilly
Posts: 1877
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:08 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby btilly » Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:27 am UTC

Kachi wrote:
Mock battles were actually very common in tribal cultures. I believe the Maoris still practised them to an extent when they were "discovered". As I recall, and it's been quite a while since I read on it, they are common in societies that are regularly under pressure in both population and territorial terms, like Pacific Islanders. Basically the laws of war taken to an extreme to settle necessary territorial disputes without unnecessary deaths. It's elaborated in John Keegan's "The Face Of Battle".

Ah, that's interesting. What kind of mock battles did they typically use? It seems as those these types of resolutions may be more common once cultures are more civil globally, but currently there are just too many problems with famine, starvation, etc.

I don't know about the Maoris. But from the ancient Middle East up to the Middle Ages there was a Western tradition of being willing to avoid having armies fight by instead having champions engage in single combat. Which is, I'm sure you'll agree, preferable to having armies fight instead.

Two famous examples of this tradition in literature are the inconclusive single combat between Ajax and Hector in the Trojan war, and the battle of David and Goliath in the Bible. Actual historical examples of battles decided by single combat rather than armies can be found in places as diverse as China, Thailand, India, Rome, and Russia.
Some of us exist to find out what can and can't be done.

Others exist to hold the beer.

User avatar
Vox Imperatoris
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:42 am UTC
Location: Alabama

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:04 am UTC

Mock battles or having champions decide things is one of the most backward and stupid ideas I've ever heard of.

Either there is a good reason for a conflict or there isn't, and if there is, your country should dedicate everything to winning the war. If it isn't really necessary for your country to win, why are you fighting in the first place? There is a reason why these medievalist ideals of combat were abandoned in the first place, namely because wars became more about ideas than personal grabs at power.

Otherwise, what are you supposed to do if your champion loses? Oh well, "Vae victus!"?

ETA: There is one instance in which that kind of resolution would be acceptable, which happens to be the original justification for it (and for dueling and trial by combat in general): that God will intervene and cause the champion on the right side to win, thereby minimizing unnecessary deaths, since God would have made that side lose anyway. I trust no one here actually believes that.
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
17/♂/Heterosexual/US/Atheist/Objectivist
Tigion wrote:Gods, [Mafia] is like poker, 'cept harder.

Nu Știu Să Fiu Numai Pentru Tine—Andreea Bălan—Amazing song! Verrückte Jungs—Blümchen—My avatar.
Image

qbg
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby qbg » Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:24 am UTC

"The four boxes of liberty: ballot, soap, jury, ammo. Use in that order, starting now."

Assassinations can be justified as a means of last resort, but even then, unless backed up with popular will, it probably isn't going to help much.

Calorus
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:54 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Calorus » Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:36 am UTC

Malice wrote:The idea is that Iraq and the Baath party won't try to assassinate our leaders if we don't try to assassinate theirs. Even if we go to war against them. There are all sorts of these agreements between otherwise opposed nations. Nuclear weapons is one; another is the treatment of prisoners of war. These rules are good.


Hmmm... How bad would it be to have our leaders (at the time of Mission Accomplished) assassinated? In Britain at least, they had shown wilful dis-interest in the opinions of the people. And I felt then as now that they were unfit to lead the country. The continued blood bath in the Middle East, and the singular lack of any weapons of mass destruction, let alone 45 minute threat, only strengthens my resolve.

And those agreements, such as the Nuclear Proliferation which Britain and America are totally in contravention of, treatment of enemy combatants - Guantanamo, anyone? The rules may be good, but what value are they if not respected by the strongest? And how can anyone defend themselves from an unbridled strongest whilst adhering to them? North Korea has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only bartering chip anyone has with the USA is Nuclear weapons, meaning that not only does the US ignore the non-proliferation treaty, it's also the leading cause for others to do so.

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:11 am UTC

First of all, there are two types of assassinations. Type 1, as I'll call it, is the assassination of rulers (presidents, dictators, etc.) by other countries, as spoken of here. This has two subtypes; assassination as an alternative to war and assassination to put an end to a war. The first can never work. If killing a ruler with limited power, it is pointless, since he will simply be replaced and the rest of the government will be allied against you (if they weren't already; since the ruler was limited in power, at least some of the rest of the government must have agreed with whatever he did that you didn't like.) Kind of like cutting one of the heads off a hydra. If killing an all-powerful ruler (dictator) and he already appointed a successor, the successor will likely do the exact same things you don't like. If he didn't have a successor, there will be chaos, many innocent civilians will likely be killed, and, when a new government comes to power, it may be even worse than the previous one. Sure, it could be a perfect democracy, but it could also be a dictator who's even worse than the original. The only way to ensure the desired result is to make it happen, and the only effective way to do that is to put boots on the ground, effectively making it a war. The second subtype (to end a war) will fail against a ruler of limited power for the same reason the first subtype would; he'll simply be replaced. Against a dictator it will depend on the circumstances. Against a country where most people aren't behind the dictator, it would probably work; it did in Iraq, where they have accepted that the war is over (the attacks have been over continued American presence, not an attempt to conintue the war (for the most part.)) To end a war against a highly popular dictator, such as Kim Jong-Il, assassination would fail because either he would be immediately replaced, or, as previously suggested, a handful of people would become warlord-type figures, or, even worse, a large number of unassociated people will resist you (such as the citizens of Berlin at the end of WWII.)

Type 1 can be expanded to refer to leaders of organizations/movements, wherein the given subtypes are irrelevant, but other subtypes arise. Leaders of established, organized organizations represnt the first subtype and correlate to "rulers with limited power;" assassinations don't work here for the same reasons they don't work against rulers with limited power. Leaders of movements represent the second subtype and correlate to "all-powerful rulers;" for example, MLK is an analog for the dictator whose people support him; even though he was killed, people continued to fight for his ideas. I can't think of a real life analog for the unpopular dictator, but it would be the only scenario where assassination would work. I guess a hypothetical analog for the unpopular dictator could be a guy who starts a puppy killing movement; after some PETA member assassinates him, the movement would die.

The other type of assassination (type 2) is the personally motivated one, such as that of JFK. These aren't really assassinations, per se, just murders of important people.

Conclusion: Type one only works with subtype two, and then only with an unpopular or semi-popular dictator. Although it could also work against a "ruler with limited power" (or a dictator who already appointed a successor) if you keep killing the successors. But if you're capable of that, you're probably capable of easily winning the war. Type 2's viabilty depends on the goal; Lee Harvey Oswald was apparently largely motivated by a desire to be remembered, so I guess you could say he succeeded.
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
Velifer
Posts: 1132
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2007 4:05 pm UTC
Location: 40ºN, 83ºW

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Velifer » Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

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!)
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies have nothing to lose but their chains -Marx

yoni45
Posts: 2123
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:16 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby yoni45 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 8:47 pm UTC

paper_nautilus wrote:One thing at first: killing people does not solve problems. We could argue about death penalty here - as assasination is a kind of this - but even if it would be okay to kill somebody for what he has done there is even one argument that I find more important: the rule of law.

...Everybody accused of a crime has to see a fair trial, no matter what he did...


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.

Further, an assassination is not a death penalty. A death penalty is a judicial decision; an assassination is an act of war. Killing without trial of enemy assets fits within the "rule of law", specifically, within the laws of war. If you cannot reasonably neutralize the enemy by apprehension (ie, by them surrendering), then killing is an option in war. This applies to enemy soldiers as much as it applies to enemy leaders or anything reasonably pushing forth the enemy's war machine.

Whether or not it's "worth it" is a different story, but as an act of war, it is most definitely legitimate.

paper_nautilus wrote:Personally I find it quite nice that there is no German execution squad that could knock at my door at any time and tell me they'll kill me because some political leader believes I'm a bad person.


Just to bring the point home, that does not apply, as you are not at war with the German government, and since that particular squad is able to 'knock on your door', there is no reason for them to kill you, as they can simply apprehend you instead. That option is not available to countries in conflict.
I sell LSAT courses and LSAT course accessories. Admittedly, we're still working on the accessories.

User avatar
smw543
Posts: 1248
Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 4:45 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby smw543 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:09 am 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.

As I mentioned in my previous post/wall of text, 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. Unless you suggest this method as an "alternative to war," in which case instability is a bad thing, as explained in my wall of text/assassin's manifesto.
Spoiler:
LE4dGOLEM wrote:Now you know the difference between funny and sad.
Ubik wrote:But I'm too fond of the penis to let it go.
gmalivuk wrote:If you didn't want people to 'mis'understand you, then you probably should have tried saying something less stupid.

User avatar
Intercept
Posts: 717
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:15 am UTC
Location: An blue governed Missouri.

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby Intercept » Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:35 am UTC

Who cares about frowned upon? The less deaths the better. C'mon Yossarian.
"I've always supported pudding, even when it was politically unpopular to do so."-Bill Nye Video

btilly
Posts: 1877
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:08 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby btilly » Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:49 am 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!)

Are you deliberately channeling Ted Kaczynski?
Some of us exist to find out what can and can't be done.

Others exist to hold the beer.

xNarrowSoulx
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 12:48 am UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby xNarrowSoulx » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:46 pm UTC

Assassination is not utilized enough, imo. I hate to sound like a right-winger who thinks all things are solved simply with one step involving a bullet, but there are advantages to killing people in high places. The Saddam example is an excellent topic, since his troops, who were fearful of him, would have been extremely destabilized and possibly destroyed due to AWOL's, and would have made for much easier work.

But isn't there some sort of Geneva convention thing about assassination?
Henry λ

User avatar
22/7
I'm pretty sure I have "The Slavery In My Asshole" on DVD.
Posts: 6475
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 3:30 pm UTC
Location: 127.0.0.1

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby 22/7 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:29 pm UTC

xNarrowSoulx wrote:Assassination is not utilized enough, imo. I hate to sound like a right-winger who thinks all things are solved simply with one step involving a bullet, but there are advantages to killing people in high places. The Saddam example is an excellent topic, since his troops, who were fearful of him, would have been extremely destabilized and possibly destroyed due to AWOL's, and would have made for much easier work.
I'm curious, what would this have made better? What would have happened to the government? The civilians? Would we still have needed to invade?
Totally not a hypothetical...

Steroid wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:If your economic reality is a choice, then why are you not as rich as Bill Gates?
Don't want to be.
I want to be!

User avatar
meat.paste
Posts: 404
Joined: Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:08 pm UTC

Re: Assassination, ever justified?

Postby meat.paste » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:10 pm UTC

There are situations where the killing of another human is justified. I suspect that most will agree with this, if they really think about it. Because assassination is a specialized form of human killing, generally political, there would be situations where assassination can be justified. But (and it's a BIG but :wink:) the trouble with killing for political reasons is the opacity of crystal balls. Unless you are absolutely sure that the culling is the correct action, then you have a good chance of killing someone unjustly. That would just be rude.
Huh? What?


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: gmalivuk and 7 guests