7 Lessons for the Next Small War
What Game Is Gen. Amos Playing?
Make Your Soldiers Feel Like Family
here. Read on without fear.
Meanwhile, I'd be interested in
reading a thoughtful analysis of the ethics of murdering a scientist working on
weapons program. Anyone seen one?
Electromagnetic Pulse Is the Weird Fetish That Just Won’t Die
Obama Wouldn't Know Free Speech if It Yelled at Him from the Back of a Crowded Theater
Can Chaos Theory Teach Us Anything About International Relations?
Is Shinzo Abe Too Crazy to Save Japan's Economy?
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1:23 PM ET
November 29, 2010
Facts first, analysis later
Would that be all right?
1:29 PM ET
It is a bad idea
Well, I suppose one needs to define what their idea of "state" sponsored assassination is. I would myself have to follow that up with the reality that state sponsored assassinations never do much to shape the political big picture the way it was intended.
It is interesting, perhaps more coincidence than planning, that these assassinations happened less than a day after the WikiLeaks displayed American diplomatic cable traffic that purports that Mossad's director, Meir Dagan offering his view to enlist groups like the Baluchis and their liberation arm, the Jundallah to undertake such endeavors?
There have been previous assassinations as well as at least one kidnapping of Iranian nuclear scientists. Considering that Tehran holds that either Israel, America or both or always complicit, this particular WikiLeak may reinforce that notion, and prompt eventual retaliatory measures by Iran, as this begins to wear think with them - if it hasn't already?
I don't think state sponsored assassinations, if that is what this was, through a proxy like Jundallah, are a good idea from a strategic political point of view. And from a moral standpoint, targeting high value civilians, who are generally surrounded by innocents family in many cases, inside a country we have not declared war on, strikes me as repugnant and just plain murder.
Anecdotally: on the tactical level, assassinations can get out of hand. I am aware that after awhile, implementing the Phung Hoang in our last long war, our Phoenix program eventually called for quotas!
I would hate to think that on a more strategic/regional operational level, such a thing might call for quotas as way of tit-for-tat?
Don't hold your breath
I doubt many more facts will emerge than what we already know, that someone killed a scientist who seems to have been involved in Iran's nuclear program.
2:15 PM ET
A morte de um cientista nuclear nao vai parar o programa Iraniano em busca da bomba.
Tudo o que se conseguiu foi colocar o Iran agressor na condicao de vitima.
A unica maneira de se evitar a bomba atomica Iraniana eh invadir o paihs, mudar o Regime e implodir as instalacoes nucleares.
Isso implica em restabelecer o Servico Militar Obrigatorio.
Mas eh prematuro falar sobre isso.
Este eh um tema para ser discutido depois das eleicoes presidenciais nos Estados Unidos.
2:28 PM ET
You could at least write about the Dagestani wedding
It beats any of the wedding announcements you read about in the Times. Money quote:
"At precisely two p.m. the male guests started filing
in. They varied from pols and oligarchs of all sorts -- the
slick to the Jurassic; wizened brown peasants from Burtunay;
and Dagestan's sports and cultural celebrities. –––––
––––– presided over a political table in the smaller of
the two halls (the music was in the other) along with Vakha
the drunken wrestler, the Ingush parliamentarians, a member
of the Federation Council who is also a nanophysicist and has
lectured in Silicon Valley, and Gadzhi's cousin Ismail
Alibekov, a submariner first rank naval captain now serving
at the General Staff in Moscow. The Dagestani milieu appears
to be one in which the highly educated and the gun-toting can
mix easily -- often in the same person."
3:06 PM ET
Michael Walzer, "Just and Unjust Wars," Chapter "The War Convention," Section "Noncomb atant Immunity and Military Necessity," subsection "The Nature of Necessity." Page 146 in the second edition (paperback).
"The relevant distinction is not between those who work for the war effort and those who do not, but between those who make what soldiers need to fight and those who make what they need to live, like all the rest of us. When it is militarily necessary, workers in a tank factory can be attacked and killed, but not workers in a food processing plant."
Of course, he also issues problematic commentary on the nature of the embargo on Iran.
"The contemporary laws of war require that such efforts be directed, whatever their indirect effects, only against the armed forces of the enemy... This is not, however, much protection for civilians, since military supplies cannot be destroyed without first destroying civilian supplies."
And there you've got the fig leaf for a peaceful nuclear power program on a silver platter. Of course, if you feel the need to get out from under that, just go read Yaron Brook for a while. Listen to him long enough, and he'll try to convince you they should reopen Auschwitz for Muslims.
Given the alternative, I stick with Walzer. I don't feel like I need to take a shower after reading him.
3:50 PM ET
One View Only!
The bottom line to me is that as far as I understand it, Executive Order 12333 banning assassination is still in effect. Either we observe it or amend it with exceptions that are very clearly defined as to who is a threat, and what justifies him/her being burned, along with what constitutes acceptable collateral damage along with them.
The next time you are down in the drops having carved through a corner into a straight-away, remember guys like Walzer sugar coat a topic that needs to be bluntly laid out for what it is.
4:32 PM ET
Foreign Policy Cowboy?
So far as I know, 12333 was amended in 1998 to account for persons involved in terrorism. I think it (along with lots of other things) has been further reinterpreted since 2001.
I'm with Mr. Ricks on this one. I don't need Wikileaks to tell me that we're out there killing people, in all kinds of ways. Nor do I mind, so long as principles are adopted and carefully considered. If you want it to be all black and white and in accordance with the code of the west, be my guest. Don't hit me with a "who picks the principles/watches the watchmen" argument either. It's a messy world, and we share it with unsavory people. I'm not sure what riding a bike has to do with it, but you kind of sound like you're trying to put on a mask and jump on a horse with your six-shooter.
Hi ho, Silver.
5:19 PM ET
Good reply Jim - I won't
Good reply Jim - I won't engage in one-upsmanship.
I acknowledge EO 12333 was amended, but it has been left ambiguous in my opinion - presidential administrations like it that way. Perhaps they should consider the quality control factor of who we contract with to carry these assassinations out - and yes, because I was once a cowboy, I have a distaste for this, and additionally, I won't bother you anymore.
3:11 PM ET
No one ever said it better ...
What are we doing in the Middle East?
No one ever said it better ...
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
5:57 PM ET
Care to elaborate on why no Wikileaks comments?
I visited the site today specifically to see what you thought. If you don't approve of the leak, I think that's justifiable. But the story is prominent enough - and your viewpoint is unique enough - that I think readers would be interested in your opinion, whatever it may be.
8:14 AM ET
November 30, 2010
Well, I've written about it before in the blog.
As for the latest, I pretty much agree with Great Satan's Girl Friend: "L' docu drama au courant actually proves some stuff all the cool kids knew eons ago."
10:41 AM ET
I would suggest the name Michael J. Broyde at Emory to answer this. He has written on similar topics.
11:11 AM ET
Further down the wormhole?
According to Debka, the assassination might have been more humane than first thought, albeit according a counterintuitive rationale. If the scientist was killed more as an extension of efforts (not saying whose) to prevent a cure to the Stuxnet virus, then does that mean this was a single violent act meant to foster a continuing non-violent effort?
So, car bombing as a means to prevent carpet bombing? I'm not sure even Bill Cosby could draw that line on Picture Pages, but the dots are there.
11:44 AM ET
Stay out of the wormhole
Whatever the reason for the hit on these physicists, it was most assuredly not an effort to prevent a Stuxnet cure. That would be the purview of industrial automation engineers.
You don't kill Wernher v. Braun to delay a repair of sabotaged launch pad wheel bearings.
2:14 PM ET
If you work the night shift as a janitor on the Deathstar, then you put yourself in the line of fire when the rebels come in...same goes for these scientists, you work for the evil empire, you get what is coming
3:55 PM ET
Are you a fan of the original, or the special edition?
Let's start a poll. On the issue of the Best Defense in the Mos Eisley Cantina:
A) Did Han Solo shoot first?
B) Was he justified?
I don't want to hear a single groan. Everybody reading this knows exactly what I'm talkin 'bout. Don't even try to play cool.
I say he fired first, and there's nothing wrong with it by virtue of the fact that he's in the cantina. It's like the old saying goes, live by the sword, die by the change of heart of a former sith lord with a guilty conscience who can't bear the sight of his son being tortured by the emperor.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
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