Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The justification for killing people

Well it's just like WWII right?
Brennan’s says that “(i)n this armed conflict, individuals who are part of al-Qa’ida or its associated forces are legitimate military targets. We have the authority to target them with lethal force just as we targeted enemy leaders in past conflicts, such as German and Japanese commanders during World War II.”
Except of course AQ happens to not be a military force, or a state, or what have you.
The analogy between al Qaida or associated forces, on one hand, and German and Japanese commanders during WW II, on the other, is flawed. German and Japanese commanders in WW II were targetable because they were members of the armed forces of the enemy. It is far from clear, however, that “individuals who are part of al-Qa’ida or its associated forces” are members of “enemy armed forces.”
And of course we may be setting a bit of a precedent
The next time some dictator kills a dissident, either at home or abroad, either by drone strike or an assassin’s bullet to the head, and justifies it on the basis of “war or imminent threat just like the U.S. does,” will it be enough for the U.S. to respond “that’s not what we meant?
Do as I say, not as I do!

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