Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Extra-Judicial Killing
Written by: Beck

Reason Online has an intriguing article up to consider extra-judicial killings. In one form, these executions sans court procedures take the form of terrorist attacks, in others, they take the form of Israel's recent incineration of Yassin. Many people make no distinction between these two varieties of death dealing. Others seem to get it completely backwards--such as when the UN representative for Displaced Arabs (they have a UN representative?) tried to ram a resolution through the Security Council condemning Israel and praising Hamas.

Ronald Bailey makes the (correct) distinction that there are times when "assassinations" are perfectly justified, yet terrorist attacks on civilians never are. I know, I know, this distinction seems obvious and self-evident (ooh, nice redundancy there Beck), but in a world in which Europe so often sets the parameters of any dialogue of this sort, it's important some times to make absolutely certain everyone is aware that there IS indeed a distinction. Here's a nice money quote for ya:
So when are extra-judicial killings acceptable, if ever? Although, our former and current foreign affairs, intelligence, and military officials are busily trying to exonerate themselves for failing to stop the 9/11 atrocities, they all admit that both the Clinton and Bush Administrations were considering ways to extra-judicially kill Osama bin Laden. If Osama bin Laden had been killed in 1998 by the air strikes on his Afghanistan training camps ordered by President Clinton, the World Trade Center towers could well still be standing. In any case, the U.S. resorted to judicial proceeding against bin Laden later in 1998, when a U.S. Federal grand jury did indict him for the murders of 244 people who died when the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by his confederates.
At the end of his article, Bailey tries to make a case for how criteria for green-lighting extra-judicial killings, such as the Yassin termination, can be formalized and made transparent. I'm afraid he falters here, as he concludes that some sort of legal court can be established whose transparent workings would issue death sentences from on high in special cases. It's just these judicial approaches to terrorism that bogged down US policy so much before 9/11, we don't need to create further layers of unelected bureaucracy between decision makers and the men on the ground.

Meanwhile, over at National Review Online, Lee Casey and David Rivkin argue that the killing of Yassin was perfectly legal. Their (quite valid) point is that Europe applies a double standard to what they're willing to "allow" Israel to do in their conflict with Palestine.
Ironically, for years, European leaders--along with various non-governmental organizations--have demanded that Israel apply the Geneva Conventions to its fight against the Palestinians and its so-called occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. This suggests that Europe and the NGOs fully accept that the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is an armed conflict to which the laws and customs of war apply. Of course, if Israel is engaged in an armed conflict with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups, as it surely is, then the Israeli military is legally entitled to target and attack any Hamas combatant, high or low, at any time--so long as the attack does not result in disproportionate damage to civilians or civilian objects.

In condemning Yassin's killing, then, Europe contradicts itself. It has made clear that Israel must apply the laws of armed conflict vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Now, however, it says that individual militants cannot lawfully be targeted. Indeed Europe's outrage over the Yassin assassination is far more troubling than a little Israel- (and by implication America-) bashing. It reveals, once again, the ever-widening canyon that separates the United States, and Israel, from its NATO allies on the question of fighting terror and on the laws of war themselves.
Casey and Rivkin go on to make a further legalistic argument that Israel was perfectly within the dictates of the Geneva Convention when targeting Yassin. Definitely an interesting read.

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