Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why is assassination illegal?

My dad, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, told me when I was a kid that it was illegal to assassinate a nation's leader because the leaders made the rule to protect themselves, but they are perfectly willing to let young men die instead.

Arch conservative Pat Buchanan recently made a claim on the McLaughlin Group that Kim Jong Un will be a threat to America until he is killed. When asked if he is endorsing assassination, Buchanan gave a wimpy roundabout "yes" hidden behind political jabbering.

As Orwell wrote, "Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them."

What should we think about the merits and flaws of assassinating the leader of another nation? Clearly Kim Jong Un, an insecure, inexperienced belligerent dictator, makes a tempting target. It seems like a cleaner alternative to war.

While I think my dad made a great point about the selfish nature of the assassination ban, there's a great tactical argument to address. If we kill the leader, how long will it be before a new leader is put in place to that is capable of surrendering to us. That's a huge problem.

A dead Kim Jong Un, would be replaced with a chaotic power struggle, and I doubt whoever rose to the top would do so just to surrender. Even if there was a vice dictator on call to assume command I think the pressure would be for him to retaliate.

Still, North Korea is a bona fide distopia and it's tempting to put Kim Jong Un in a glass coffin for the sake of the 24 million inhabitants. A heavyweight civil war would be temporary, while the status quo is a lingering horror.

I'm open to any more input on why killing the leaders of nations should be banned in all instances, as I imagine political scientists have pondered this issue more than I have.

1 comment:

  1. I was going to write something elaborate to give my view, but I deleted it in favor of a question:

    How did the assassination of Jesus work out?

    The most dangerous and powerful weapon, in or out of a war, is not guns, tanks, planes, bombs or even nuclear weapons, the most dangerous and powerful weapon is simply this: A cause.

    It is my belief that motivation matters more than means do. You can't win a battle, much less a war, with no motivation, you can win both while lacking any significant means. Look how well the insurgents do.

    I've always said the 1st Amendment is more dangerous and powerful than the 2nd one. God forbid we kill him and make him a Martyr.

    With that said, if we could somehow avoid that happening, I say put a bullet in his head and toss him into the East River wrapped in chains. We don't actually have a ban on assassination in the US, it lives only as an Executive Order, so it can be ignored at will by the Executive Branch.