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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare by Other Means

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Warfare by Other Means Economics, demographics, cultural, technological, and other factors that have affected the course of history.

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  #1  
Old 09 Sep 17, 20:25
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One bullet

Is assassination a viable alternative means of warfare?
Why start a huge war when a single bullet through the head of a dictator would do instead?
For example if somebody had taken out Hitler in the 1930's there'd have probably been no WW2 would there?
It's not a new idea-




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  #2  
Old 09 Sep 17, 23:47
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One man's dictator is another man's "dear leader".

Say we make assassination a tool of national security.

Where do we draw the line? The world is full of countries that have low life evil leaders. Some would argue the U.S. has one.

I think things world wide could quickly spin out of control if this became common.

I can think of a leader of an Asian nation, who resembles a fat troll doll who seems to have serious mental issues, that most would agree the world will be better without. Yet threatening this troll may cause actions that could result in the deaths of millions.
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Old 10 Sep 17, 08:27
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Originally Posted by 17thfabn View Post
One man's dictator is another man's "dear leader".
Say we make assassination a tool of national security.
Where do we draw the line? The world is full of countries that have low life evil leaders. Some would argue the U.S. has one.
I think things world wide could quickly spin out of control if this became common.
I can think of a leader of an Asian nation, who resembles a fat troll doll who seems to have serious mental issues, that most would agree the world will be better without. Yet threatening this troll may cause actions that could result in the deaths of millions.
1- Trump and every other world leader has got fanatics who hate him/her, nothing new there..
2- Every case is different, personally I think Kim is just a harmless windbag at the moment, calling the US names like a silly overgrown schoolboy..
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Old 10 Sep 17, 17:57
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Originally Posted by Poor Old Spike View Post
1- Trump and every other world leader has got fanatics who hate him/her, nothing new there..
2- Every case is different, personally I think Kim is just a harmless windbag at the moment, calling the US names like a silly overgrown schoolboy..
No one, no matter how foolish appearing, who controls nuclear weapons is "harmless". To think otherwise is to commit suicide.
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Old 10 Sep 17, 18:18
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Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
No one, no matter how foolish appearing, who controls nuclear weapons is "harmless". To think otherwise is to commit suicide.
I've been saying in AG and other forums for quite a while that there's no need to put boots on the ground in NK, because Trump can use "another means of warfare" by trashing Kim's nuclear infrastructure with a non-nuclear cruise missile/drone/airstrike blitz to draw his teeth and render him as harmless as a poodle, and I'm surprised Don hasn't done it by now, I hope he's not going soft.
(Or at the very least he could trash just a few of Kim's ICBM launch complexes, how many's he got anyway?)
In military terms it's a target-rich environment out there..

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Old 23 Sep 17, 17:20
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There's truly a number of people who deserve to be assassinated . The guy that heads the Weather Underground, Richard Snowden for starters.
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Old 10 Sep 17, 07:15
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Didn't work too well in the case of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 now did it?

There was a scheme to drop a British assassination squad into Berchtesgaden and planning was quite well advanced but it was pointed out in 1944 that Hitler's insistence on micro managing the German Army from Berlin meant that the Allies were bettor off having him in place.
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Old 10 Sep 17, 08:43
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Didn't work too well in the case of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 now did it?
There was a scheme to drop a British assassination squad into Berchtesgaden and planning was quite well advanced but it was pointed out in 1944 that Hitler's insistence on micro managing the German Army from Berlin meant that the Allies were bettor off having him in place.
1- Every case is different, Ferdinand was no warmongering tyrant like Hitler, neither was Lincoln.
2- There was a fictional film (can't remember the title), where a few US troops were cut off behind German lines and saw Hitler arrive by train. One wanted to shoot him but the others said "No don't do it, he's the biggest help the Allies can have", because of his constant interfering with the German military..

Anyway there's no guarantee that killing a leader would change history, check out the New Twilight Zone episode called "Cradle of Darkness" where a German-speaking woman is sent back in time to get a job as nanny in the Hitler household so she can kill the newborn baby Adolf to prevent WW2 from happening.
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Old 10 Sep 17, 17:56
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I've wished I could control lighting.

I'd have two power settings on my lightning bolts.

1. Stun setting. Would knock a person down, and give them something to think about. For minor evil characters, like al sharpton, justin beiber and taylor swift. I could also aid law enforcement in apprehending criminals.

2. Coma setting. Would as the name says put the evil doer into a coma. For major sources of evil like the kim jong un, the Iranian nuclear scientists, all members of al qaeda and isis.

Putting a major trouble maker into a coma could be more effective than a 7.65mm in the brain pan.

My wife says I shouldn't post when I've taken my pain meds. I feel quite lucid.
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Old 10 Sep 17, 08:30
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  #11  
Old 25 Sep 17, 06:21
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If a country is at war with another, then targeting the leader of the enemy country is legal, and no more immoral than any death caused in war.
This is something the Israeli IDF has been doing on a regular basis, and it's not assassination, it is a targeted military operation, not unlike the downing of the airplane carrying Yamamoto.

Aside from that, one has to consider the practical effects and consequences, to decide whether such an operation would be beneficial to the war effort. Two reasons for abstaining from such a move are:

1. Who's the replacement? Are you sure it won't be someone worse, from your POV? That's the Hitler example. The enemy power might be ruled in some way by committee, in which case killing one person wouldn't be enough. Or if it's a dictatorship, isn't the replacement potentially a more dangerous dictator? Or, maybe, isn't he an unknown quantity? Often, the cronies of a dictator are deliberately in the shadows, and an outside power can find it hard to assess which of them would step up, and how dangerous he'd be.
2. What's the reaction? I suspect top rulers shy away from this sort of thing because it would then be their own skin on the line of fire next, and that's one possible reaction. But an alternative reaction might be asymmetric. Suppose, for instance, you take out a dangerous dictator. He gets replaced by someone of his retinue, who turns out to be even more unhinged. On top of that, he fears for his life, and he must react to the killing of his predecessor. He might, of course, order the same targeted attack against the ruler of the enemy - but he might also go WMD. Or order widespread terror attacks.
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Old 25 Sep 17, 09:30
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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
If a country is at war with another, then targeting the leader of the enemy country is legal,
Not under international law and it was forbidden in the Hague Convention. The Nuremberg Tribunal recognised that it had entered international law and even in war time was a war crime.
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Assassination is prohibited at Executive Order 12333 of the United States (December 4 1981) which stipulates, at Part 2, paragraph 2.11: "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." Prohibition of assassination is also the "supreme law of the land" because of its prior criminalization under international law. As we shall now see, international law is included in the law of the United States.

When two states are at war, assassination is normally treated by international law as a war crime. According to Article 23(b) of the regulations annexed to Hague Convention IV of October 18, 1907: "It is especially forbidden...to kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army." U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, THE LAW OF LAND WARFARE (1956), incorporates this prohibition and authoritatively links Hague Article 23(b) to assassination.

Hague Convention IV is a treaty of the United States and is, therefore, the "supreme law of the land" under the Article 6 "Supremacy Clause." Hence, even if the U.S. Congress were ever to decide to enact a statute that expressly repealed the rule found at Hague Regulation 23(b), that would not permit U.S. officials to legalize assassinations. This is because, inter alia, the Nuremberg Tribunal ruled conclusively that the obligations codified at the Hague Regulations had entered into customary international law. Such law, of course, is recognized as binding at Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.
From ASSASSINATION, LAW AND JUSTICE A POLICY PERSPECTIVE
Louis Rene Beres Professor of International Law Purdue University

I suspect that much the same applies in British law and Commander Bond's licence has been revoked.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 05:28
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Not under international law and it was forbidden in the Hague Convention.
This all revolves around the definition of "treacherously". If employing a sniper to kill a man who is the commander-in-chief of the enemy armed forces, and therefore a military commander, is "treacherous", why should employing a sniper on the battlefield be allowed? Isn't that "treacherous" too?

Personally, I like New Zealand's definition of treacherous killing: "the killing or wounding of a selected individual behind the line of battle by enemy agents or unlawful combatants" (emphasis mine). That would mean that a sniper passing himself off as an enemy civilian in an enemy town would be committing a treacherous killing; the same sniper wearing his army's uniform, even behind enemy lines, would be carrying out a legitimate military operation (provided the target was a combatant too, such as the commander-in-chief of the enemy armed forces). Likewise, the killing of Heydrich by soldiers who (I believe) were not wearing their uniform amounted to treachery, and was a war crime (if I am correct that they were not wearing a uniform), but the killing of Yamamoto was not. The killing of Hamas military leaders by missiles launched by Israeli aircraft also isn't a crime.

Your complete misunderstanding of what amounts to a treacherous killing is excusable, of course, because there is no hard and fast legal definition of what is treachery. Military manuals try and provide examples, though, and they generally draw a line at "hiring an assassin" (i.e. a professional, civilian murderer) or "putting a price on the head" of the target or "outlawing" him (which again would amount to a free-for-all which would include civilian killers, disguises, perfidy etc.). They also strive to point out that "obviously, it does not preclude lawful attacks by lawful combatants, on individual soldiers or officers of the enemy" (emphasis mine). The quote is from a US Air Force manual, which is interesting in itself.

Quote:
The Nuremberg Tribunal recognised that it had entered international law and even in war time was a war crime.
The Nuremberg Tribunal, i.e. the IMT, of course accepted the Hague Conventions as customary law; the point would be whether there is a ruling that says that specifically targeting one enemy officer by a lawful combatant, without the use of perfidy, means a "treacherous" killing.
I have had a look at the IMT files, and I don't find a reference to "assassination" and to that Hague IV 1907 provision in the same page. But if you have such a reference, please provide it.

Quote:
I suspect that much the same applies in British law and Commander Bond's licence has been revoked.
You are confusing state policy and international law, and you are also mixing up the peacetime killing of civilian politicians with targeted military operations against military commanders in wartime.

As a side note, we all remember that Hitler held a military rank. He was a German officer in wartime.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 05:39
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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
This all revolves around the definition of "treacherously". If employing a sniper to kill a man who is the commander-in-chief of the enemy armed forces, and therefore a military commander, is "treacherous", why should employing a sniper on the battlefield be allowed? Isn't that "treacherous" too?

Personally, I like New Zealand's definition of treacherous killing: "the killing or wounding of a selected individual behind the line of battle by enemy agents or unlawful combatants" (emphasis mine). That would mean that a sniper passing himself off as an enemy civilian in an enemy town would be committing a treacherous killing; the same sniper wearing his army's uniform, even behind enemy lines, would be carrying out a legitimate military operation (provided the target was a combatant too, such as the commander-in-chief of the enemy armed forces). Likewise, the killing of Heydrich by soldiers who (I believe) were not wearing their uniform amounted to treachery, and was a war crime (if I am correct that they were not wearing a uniform), but the killing of Yamamoto was not. The killing of Hamas military leaders by missiles launched by Israeli aircraft also isn't a crime.

Your complete misunderstanding of what amounts to a treacherous killing is excusable, of course, because there is no hard and fast legal definition of what is treachery. Military manuals try and provide examples, though, and they generally draw a line at "hiring an assassin" (i.e. a professional, civilian murderer) or "putting a price on the head" of the target or "outlawing" him (which again would amount to a free-for-all which would include civilian killers, disguises, perfidy etc.). They also strive to point out that "obviously, it does not preclude lawful attacks by lawful combatants, on individual soldiers or officers of the enemy" (emphasis mine). The quote is from a US Air Force manual, which is interesting in itself.



The Nuremberg Tribunal, i.e. the IMT, of course accepted the Hague Conventions as customary law; the point would be whether there is a ruling that says that specifically targeting one enemy officer by a lawful combatant, without the use of perfidy, means a "treacherous" killing.
I have had a look at the IMT files, and I don't find a reference to "assassination" and to that Hague IV 1907 provision in the same page. But if you have such a reference, please provide it.



You are confusing state policy and international law, and you are also mixing up the peacetime killing of civilian politicians with targeted military operations against military commanders in wartime.

As a side note, we all remember that Hitler held a military rank. He was a German officer in wartime.
I'm not confusing anything its illegal and US law reflects this and uses the word assassination. You refusal to accept anything that confounds your own interpretation is exceedingly arrogant and uncomely
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Old 27 Sep 17, 13:18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
I'm not confusing anything its illegal and US law reflects this and uses the word assassination.
Heck no. It is against an executive order by the President, meaning that it is officially not part of policy. If tomorrow the President in office issues an executive order rescinding the ban on assassinations, that's the end of the ban. It's not a law, it's policy.

Additionally, yes, sure, the word "assassination" is used. However, an official analysis of the issue prsented to the Congress in 2002 by a law expert working for the DoD mentions that as far as "assassination" goes, "in time of peace, an element of covert action
or surprise attack may be required for a killing for political purposes to be deemed an
assassination, particularly where the target is a private individual rather than a public figure
or national leader. The murder for political purposes of a national leader in time of peace may
be regarded by some as an assassination solely because of the target, while others might also
consider whether a surprise attack was involved."

However, that's for "time of peace" (emphasis mine) and for "private individuals", "political purposes" and "national leaders".

On the other hand, the same source says that
"“Treacherous” is not defined in the Hague Convention IV, but does not appear to be
interpreted to foreclose operations in time of war involving the element of surprise.11
However, putting a price on the head of an enemy appears to be regarded by some as an act
which would render a resulting killing an assassination, as distinguished from a lawful attack
on legitimate military targets, including the enemy chain of command.12"


In conclusion, you are out of your depth here.
To make a practical example:

- The USA declare war on North Korea (a state of war thus exists),
- The North Korean President also is the commande rin chief of the armed forces (therefore he's considered as military personnel and part of the enemy chain of command),
- A US aircraft clearly marked as such launches a surprise strike and a missile kills the North Korean President.

The above is a totally legitimate military operation in wartime, and good luck to you trying to prosecute the pilot or the officer ordering it on the absurd assumption that it's an "assassination".

Here's something to read for you: http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/crs/rs21037.pdf

Nor can an extensive reading of Article 23(b) of Hague IV 1907 be passed as the US interpretation of that article. Take for instance the US field manual concerning military law of 1956:
"U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 (1956), which provides (paragraph 31):
[Article 23(b), Annex to Hague Convention IV, 1907] is construed as
prohibiting assassination, proscription, or outlawry of an enemy, or
putting a price upon an enemy’s head, as well as offering a reward
for an enemy “dead or alive.” "

A very restrictive definition, that makes the wartime targeting of a general, or the top general of the enemy, by an otherwise not illegally operating serviceperson, totally legitimate.

Much is made of the Executive Orders. Interestingly, when Ford talked about his own, the original one, he did mention he did not want that sort of shenanigans "in peacetime".

I have plenty of other official US sources to quote, field manuals, advisory notes by military law experts, the works. Just insist, and I'll keep providing corrections.

Quote:
You refusal to accept anything that confounds your own interpretation is exceedingly arrogant and uncomely
You, on the other hand, did not look up for a quote confirming your claim that the IMT minutes support your idea. Or you did and did not find it.
My apologies if I sounded arrogant. However, I think it's a lesser sin to be arrogant and right, than humble and wrong.
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