Monday, 20 January 2020

Playing God

The targeted assassination of Qasem Soleimani is only the latest in a long line of ex-judicial killings carried out by the USA, Israel, and many other countries. The fact that it was drone facilitated is also nothing new.

Wikipedia reveals the Israelis as the most prolific users of targeted killings, listing 29 since 1972, but they're certainly not the only state using the strategy.

The most well-known of the Israeli attacks is Operation Wrath of God, avenging the Munich Olympic terrorist atrocity, although the Israeli catalogue includes targeting a wide range of individuals across a number of countries, including Malta, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and Malaysia.

The Israelis have used a wide variety of methods, ranging from airstrikes, Apache helicopter-launched missiles, electrocution and shootings. Collateral damage, on the shape of civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time, is also not unusual.

These assassinations as carried out by Mossad have become almost commonplace.

Next in line in terms of the frequency of these killings is the USA.

The War on Terror was used by both the Bush and Obama Administrations to justify targeted killings, and the Trump Administration has followed suit.

The most famous of these assassinations carried out by the USA was that of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, but there have been a succession, including most recently that of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Qurashi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The Intercept ran an interesting expose of US drone operations on its website recently.

Other regimes, including North Korea, Iran, and Russia have used targeted killings. The Russian speciality is poisoning. The North Koreans are more creative.

Perhaps, gentle reader, I'm squeamish, but I have deep reservations about any strategy of targeted assassinations, however noble the motive.

Extra judicial killings have no place in international law, and despite the fact that many countries, including the USA, scorn the notion of the rule of law applying internationally and universally, it is a noble concept worthy of recognition.

Without it, the powerful can basically do what they like.

Then there is the issue of innocents being caught up in these attacks. 

I can acknowledge that these killings target the worst of the worst, but even the most notorious NAZIs were given the privilege of trials.

When you think about it, this use of technology is something entirely new.

With all the power of artificial intelligence unleashed, nobody on God's good earth, no matter where they live, or their race or nationality, is safe.

God does not live in the White House, the Knesset or the Islamic Consultative Assembly, nor, as far as I know, does He have a squadron of Raptors handy.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...