Extrajudicial Killing

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Gator Guy
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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#31

Post by Gator Guy » Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:23 pm

srothstein wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:39 pm
Gator Guy wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:38 am
On the other hand, I'm not so opposed to assassination as an instrument of foreign policy, the same as waging war. If it's moral to kill front line troops, then it's moral to kill military commanders. It's more effective to target and kill a military commander than the troops he commands. It's also ethically superior if the troops are conscripts and would rather be home with their families. This also applies to political leaders who declare war or exert control over the military. Killing them is more bang for the buck than killing a grunt, and at worst ethically equivalent, despite what those politicians want us to believe.
I understand your point about the ethics of it, though I personally disagree. Of course, ethics and morals are always a personal option to be decided individually. I find an ethical difference in killing someone in open combat as opposed to a hidden attack from which he cannot defend effectively.
Like a sniper? How about missiles or bombs deployed against ground targets?

If a politician or military commander authorizes the use of those technologies, against opponents who don't have the means to counter them, he has no moral high ground if he's likewise a target of a "hidden attack from which he cannot defend effectively."

If we use snipers to kill "high value targets" by surprise, we can hardly complain it's unfair or unethical for our opponents do the same.

If we use UAV/RMA to deliver missiles or bombs, we can hardly call our opponents cowards for using IED, when that's the technology they have.

The United States killed Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, even though he wasn't on those airplanes. How can a US politician or military commander object to the morality or ethics of being targeted by somebody whose tribesmen were killed, just because he didn't push the button or pull the trigger?

I'm not defending the 9/11 terrorist attacks or saying OBL was innocent. Not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I agree the man who makes the decision to kill others is responsible for that decision, even if he delegates the dirty work. However, I think that's a standard that cuts both directions.
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."


srothstein
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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#32

Post by srothstein » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:13 pm

Gator Guy wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:23 pm
If we use snipers to kill "high value targets" by surprise, we can hardly complain it's unfair or unethical for our opponents do the same.

If we use UAV/RMA to deliver missiles or bombs, we can hardly call our opponents cowards for using IED, when that's the technology they have.
I think we agree more than you think. I was saying that I think assassination is not ethical. I did not specify which side it was unethical for. I agree that we cannot complain about people doing to us what we do to them. I have always hated the hypocrisy of politicians who complain when the other side does exactly what they did when they were in charge and that concept applies to war also.

I don't particularly care for snipers except in a known war area. It is not assassination, IMO, to target the leaders of a combat unit coming at you. It is assassination to send a sniper out to kill a leader who is not in combat. While I do not have a problem with the moral guilt of the politicians who order the killing being as great (and even greater in some cases) as the guilt of the person who did the killing, I still have moral reservations about hunting them down and using assassination as a tool. This is one of those cases where I want us to not sink to the level of the enemy and to maintain the high moral ground.

And yes, I do realize that this is not always possible. If I were in charge and found the only way to stop something was to assassinate the leader of the opposition, I would probably order it done. It would not make it right, but I can understand the pragmatic side of the issue also. And I would be even more guilty than the person who actually did the shooting because I know it is wrong.

I am not sure I agree with the logic of a UAV being morally equivalent to an IED though I can see your point about the technology difference inherent in the tools. I have a problem with hidden booby traps like IEDs. I have the same problem with our dropping mines to seed an area without marking it or letting people know. I recognize the necessity and usefulness of land mines, but I don't like them and also recognize the immorality of their use.
Steve Rothstein

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Gator Guy
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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#33

Post by Gator Guy » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:46 pm

srothstein wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:13 pm
I think we agree more than you think. I was saying that I think assassination is not ethical. I did not specify which side it was unethical for. I agree that we cannot complain about people doing to us what we do to them. I have always hated the hypocrisy of politicians who complain when the other side does exactly what they did when they were in charge and that concept applies to war also.
On this we are in violent agreement. :mrgreen:

It seems we're of similar mind on these core principles, although we differ in some details. Thank you for the thought provoking discussion.
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."

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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#34

Post by PriestTheRunner » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:59 am

srothstein wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:13 pm
It is assassination to send a sniper out to kill a leader who is not in combat. While I do not have a problem with the moral guilt of the politicians who order the killing being as great (and even greater in some cases) as the guilt of the person who did the killing, I still have moral reservations about hunting them down and using assassination as a tool.
So as long as the politicians keep their hands clean by simply not being near enough to action, they can't be a target?... That doesn't seem to make any sense. If North Korea invaded Seoul, Kim Jong-un isn't in 'the war zone', he would be in Pyongyang (most likely) or one of the hidden military installations. How, exactly, would it be unethical for us to send a decapitation team to attempt to eliminate him (which has long since been the stated plan, among others) in an effort to shorten the war.

The reason you see a ethical dilemma in assassination is because it is unethical to live in a perceptual state of war- and much less ethical to live in a perpetual state of undeclared war. If a nation has the moral justification to openly (and legally) declare war against an opponent, any opportunity within the scope of war is justified, as allowed by the common-law treaties of time. Assassination is perfectly acceptable in that context. The real problem is when you have illegal, undocumented wars occurring because congress handed off (illegally IMO) its constitutional duty to declare war through an act of congress, against a specific party, in a specific scope. Instead, congress has merely said "Here executive branch, do whatever you want in the sandbox"... And then we are surprised when the executive branch acts completely unrestrained.

tl:dr- If a war is illegally initiated, it doesn't matter how the killing happens, its an illegal war.


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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#35

Post by srothstein » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:20 am

PriestTheRunner wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:59 am
So as long as the politicians keep their hands clean by simply not being near enough to action, they can't be a target?... That doesn't seem to make any sense. If North Korea invaded Seoul, Kim Jong-un isn't in 'the war zone', he would be in Pyongyang (most likely) or one of the hidden military installations. How, exactly, would it be unethical for us to send a decapitation team to attempt to eliminate him (which has long since been the stated plan, among others) in an effort to shorten the war.
I am not quite making myself clear on this, I guess. I agree that the leaders are guilty but I disagree on whether or not they are targets if they stay far away. This is not because of the current and recent states of illegal war we find ourselves involved in. It is because I have a, for lack of better wording, finely developed sense of fairness about how things should be done. I have studied, at least a surface look, some of the philosophies of war as well as having studied morality and ethics. I once had an interesting conversation with a psychologist after testing for a police job. He noted that I seemed to have a very black and white view of how things should be done. Right was right and wrong was wrong with very few shades of gray in-between. While we were discussing this, he did mention that this seems to be common with experienced police officers. This is relevant because I admit that I have a set of opinions on how a war should be fought. I know what I think is right and what isn't.

Examples of this include what I think are valid military targets. In war, military bases are obvious targets. I think any elected politician is also a valid target, from dog catcher up to president. Actually, any government employee is a target, as is any government building other than schools and hospitals. Then we get into all of the civilian structures that are valid targets, like railroad yards, manufacturing plants, financial centers, etc. And with all of this as valid targets, I find booby traps, assassination teams, and snipers to be immoral. They just don't seem fair to me.

All of this is also complicated by a very strong pragmatic sense. As a cop, when deadly force is justified, I have always wondered if there is such a thing as excessive force. As a soldier, if you go to war, I have always thought it should be an all-out war. I don't believe in "limited" war. And I have very few qualms with the old saw that if you are in a fair fight, you are doing something wrong.

Yes, if I were president and had a chance to end a war, or even to prevent a war, by assassinating the leader of the nation, I would take that chance. But just because I am pragmatic enough to do this, it doesn't mean that I find it moral or ethical. Wrong is wrong, whether I do it or my enemy does it.

And I guess what it also means is that I recognize just how thin the veneer of civilization is on people. Well, at least on me I know it is thin. I want to be civilized and I try to be civilized, but I know I would get very savage very quickly in certain cases. One case would be if I went to war, especially against my own government. Another would be if someone ever hurt my kids or grandkids. They are sacred to me.
Steve Rothstein


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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#36

Post by crazy2medic » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:04 am

Okay here's a question....a parent moves their family from another country to the United States, while living here the parent decides his children (daughters) are becoming too westernized, so the parent murders both daughters and flees back to their country of origin! After several attempts to have the parent extradited back to the U.S. and nothing happens so they get away with murder!
In my opinion they should be given the chance to willingly return to the Jurisdiction where the murder took place and face trial under the agreement that they would not be facing the death penalty, however if they do not return they should be tried in absentia and if found guilty have a death sentence placed on them! Then a team is sent to locate and execute said individual and in this way the court order is carried out. No Escaping Justice!
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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#37

Post by Gator Guy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:52 am

srothstein wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:20 am
Examples of this include what I think are valid military targets. In war, military bases are obvious targets. I think any elected politician is also a valid target, from dog catcher up to president. Actually, any government employee is a target, as is any government building other than schools and hospitals. Then we get into all of the civilian structures that are valid targets, like railroad yards, manufacturing plants, financial centers, etc.
I mostly agree with the above. I hadn't considered financial centers before, but I see your point. Traditionally, railroad yards and other transportation key to the war effort, such as bridges and air or sea ports, were considered valid targets. The same for manufacturing plants that could be making weapons or matériel. I'm not so sure about food processing, although the case could be made that an army travels on its stomach. To the last point, financing is vital to war and nations have been borrowing to fund their wars for hundreds of years, so I don't disagree. It's just something I hadn't considered before.
srothstein wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:20 am
And with all of this as valid targets, I find booby traps, assassination teams, and snipers to be immoral. They just don't seem fair to me.
I don't think they're any less fair than bombs and missiles, especially in many recent US wars where our opponents have little or no airpower. For example, nobody would have blinked an eye if the US had bombed a "palace" with Saddam Hussein inside, during that war. I don't see that as any worse than a drone strike to kill Saddam in transit between secure locations, or a sniper killing Saddam if he was careless enough to expose himself to that threat. I agree with you about booby traps that may kill or maim innocents, but I don't see a big distinction between bombing a fuel depot from the air and (special forces, organized resistance, sympathizers) using a booby trap to get the same results.

We'll have to agree to disagree. I think this goes back to your "shades of gray" comment, and where we each draw the line. We're much closer than I originally thought, and I can understand why we may draw that line somewhat differently.

Warm regards.
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."

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Gator Guy
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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#38

Post by Gator Guy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:04 am

crazy2medic wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:04 am
Okay here's a question....a parent moves their family from another country to the United States, while living here the parent decides his children (daughters) are becoming too westernized, so the parent murders both daughters and flees back to their country of origin! After several attempts to have the parent extradited back to the U.S. and nothing happens so they get away with murder!
In my opinion they should be given the chance to willingly return to the Jurisdiction where the murder took place and face trial under the agreement that they would not be facing the death penalty, however if they do not return they should be tried in absentia and if found guilty have a death sentence placed on them! Then a team is sent to locate and execute said individual and in this way the court order is carried out. No Escaping Justice!
Does the same standard apply to American citizens who violate foreign laws when they travel overseas?

Does it make a difference if the accused is a computer programmer, a journalist, or a diplomat?
"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."

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Re: Extrajudicial Killing

#39

Post by Middle Age Russ » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:10 am

And I guess what it also means is that I recognize just how thin the veneer of civilization is on people. Well, at least on me I know it is thin. I want to be civilized and I try to be civilized, but I know I would get very savage very quickly in certain cases.
The conviction behind this statement is evidence of a mature worldview. Self-determination goes hand in hand with self-defense. Defense and offense are kissing cousins, as are violence and savagery. Violence and savagery, while repugnant in the daily lives of civilized people, must be acknowledged as appropriate and necessary for these same civilized people in certain circumstances.
Russ
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