POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON May 05, 2011 AT 02:57 IST ,  Edited At: May 05, 2011 02:57 IST

This is familiar territory for India. And the killing of Osama bin Laden has only revived the old debate: If others -- in the past, largely Israel -- can do it, why can't India use the coveted covert option, targeting those known terrorists in Pakistan who are responsible for terror attacks in India?

The Economist has a fine blog on the subject. It also persuasively quotes Ilya Somin, a professor of law at George Mason University on the morality of targeted killings who thinks that

In my view, targeting terrorist leaders is not only defensible, but actually more ethical than going after rank and file terrorists or trying to combat terrorism through purely defensive security measures. The rank and file have far less culpability for terrorist attacks than do their leaders, and killing them is less likely to impair terrorist operations. Purely defensive measures, meanwhile, often impose substantial costs on innocent people and may imperil civil liberties. Despite the possibility of collateral damage inflicted on civilians whom the terrorist leaders use as human shields, targeted assassination of terrorist leaders is less likely to harm innocents than most other strategies for combating terror and more likely to disrupt future terrorist operations.

That does not prove that it should be the only strategy we use, but it does mean that we should reject condemnations of it as somehow immoral.

The arguments have been well-thrashed out in the past and the Economist blog sums it up pithily:

As Hobbes taught, if private reason is authoritative—if each is left to judge for herself what is right—we are left with a chaos of conflicting claims. In that case it seems that "justice" boils down to Thrasymachus' slogan: "Justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger".

And then the blog provides an answer to the celebrity legal eagle Alan Dershowitz who wondered why "those who have opposed the very concept of targeted killings should be railing against the killing of Osama Bin Laden" which merits quoting in extenso:

The silence of the usual critics of "illegal", "extrajudicial", targeted killing in the wake of America's killing of Osama bin Laden might reflect hypocrisy, sure. But this can be tough to distinguish from resignation to the fact that Mr Obama didn't submit his case for executing Mr bin Laden to some global civil authority because there isn't one and he didn't have to—because America's the biggest kid on the block and, ultimately, what America says goes. And, if it comes down to it, Britain, France, Italy, Russia and other powerful governments hope America will indulge their own kill-squad adventures with similar approving silences. Of course, if some aggrieved faction in the future seeks retribution through the targeted killing of one of these countries' leaders, that will be raw vengeance, that will be terrorism, that will be an international crime, because, like it or not, that's how it works.

And that perhaps also answers the question posed right at the very beginning of this blog.

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON May 05, 2011 AT 02:57 IST ,  Edited At: May 05, 2011 02:57 IST
Follow us on Twitter for all updates, like us on Facebook for important and fun stuff

Post a Comment
Share your thoughts
You are not logged in, please log in or register
Must See
Daily Mail
May 15, 2011
09:45 PM

If The USA Can Kill Osama, Why Can't....?

BECAUSE US PRESIDENT IS OBAMA while Indian PM is MANMOHAN. Name one politician in India of from Congress leader SONIA/BJP leaders/CPM/ CPI/ AKALI DAL /DMK/ AIDMK/ BIJU JD/ Kumaraswami JD/ Pawar NCP/ Shiv Sena/ BSP/ SP/ AGP/ NC of Abdullahs/ PDP/ etc etc who have the courage to "sign" death orders for any"anti- national Indian" and accept it openly infront of the world media like what OBAMA has done.

Charan dewry
Guwahati, India
May 07, 2011
02:16 PM

Let us not fool ourselves more.Nothing will happen.India will ask Dawood and others.Pakistan will say tauntingly never heard of the Guys.

Welcome to Sherm el Sheik we will meet and resolve.

a k ghai
mumbai, India
May 07, 2011
11:33 AM

Americans did not know the location of OBL in 10 years! Very strange. We have strong belief that Americans are super human beings. But we have such false notion. The whole truth is that they are over confident of their superiority. They have thinking that all are inferior to them so they did not try to correct themselves. But in fact they should have been more alert and wise as they have tasted defeat in Vietnam, South Korea and iraq.Now they are going to be defeated in Afghanistan and Pakistan.They don’t want to know or don’t know who are their true friends or true enemies. In their war against terrorism and 9/11 culprits they had befriended Pakistan, the most notorious nation in world for their treachery and betrayal. They have been forced by Bush to support in their war on condition that USA would give them ransom of 2 billions of $ every year but they were fooled as the same money was spent on feeing the same jihadist who are against USA and India. It is the policy of USA to feed the snake who bite them. So it is America who is now facing the truth again but still they did not learnt any lesson. They have to stop all types of aid to Pakistan, Get the UNSC to pass resolution declaring Pakistan one terrorists country, condemn its activities, stop world support and make it alone in world with china harbour of its activities. China may support it and may put veto in UNSC but that would be counterproductive to china as he would also be subjected to criticism by world nations.If Pakistan would change its attitude for all it can progress well but with a mentality for ill will for all it can go down hill.Now also time is for Pakistan but the fact is that it is one epicentre of terrorism and its fraud mentality drown it.Although it is having a close relation ship with china but it has failed to understand that china is abusing Pakistan for its expansionist activities.China has double standards and double speaks.It helped Pakistan but take away a large chunk of land from Pakistan in karakoram region.So Pakistan which harbours animus relation with India always even if our PM going down on his knees to appease them,They are abusing the holistic approach of our holier than thou PM.In Egypt’s Sharm-El-shaikh they had made him a fool by dictating all their condition in a agreement and later published it in the media to downgrade him.

muslim bhagawat
patna, India
May 07, 2011
11:32 AM

Americans have been fooled by Pakistan since 9/11.When they declined to assist USA in their war on terror Prez Bush threatened Mush that either he would be for or against USA. So mush out of fear accepted all conditions of usa but started playing hide and seek game with usa and bush. Bush did not understand the game .He just allowed mush to loot usa by billions as aid for his help. Although usa was allowed logistic support to usa on attack over Afghanistan in 2001 but that is against huge money. Since then Pakistan is looting USA by falsehood and cheating. They had assured that they would provide all the terrorists to UA but they fooled usa.Pak armya nd ISI are fully involved in the terrorists activities all over world with the usa money.First they driven the Russians from Afghanistan and later occupied Afghanistan through Taliban chief mullah umer.Mullah umer is now in Pakistan and enjoying state guest facilities. But America is silent on him.The Taliban chief is the most crooked man.But ISI and Army helped the umer and its cadres.When the USA drone skilled some Pakistanis that day the ways were closed and all the tankers of usa forces were burnt in pakistan.USA should know that Pakistan is the most dreaded terrorists state in world and iSI is the most dreaded there is nothing wrong if USA take steps to declare Pakistan a terrorists state and also get it approved in UNSC.The day would be the golden day for world peace and last for Pakistani frauds and cheatings.

muslim bhagawat
patna, India
May 07, 2011
07:42 AM

Only nation with self respect have the courage to take on "violent groups who kill their innocent citizens on the streets". In spite of all that has been done by Pakistan, it is India which is bending backwards to continue "dilogue" with them when "dilogue and cricket diplomany" has failed to produce any results. It is high time that India, at the very least, stop all contact with Pakistan- stop all Bus, Train and even issuing VISA to people of Pakistani origin. Just ignore Pakistan. A nation can NOT select its neighbours but can certainly select its friends. Pakistan can never ever be favourabily disposed to India and so although India can not change the geographical reality of Pakistan being its neighbour but certainly can certainly declare that "India chose to ignore the existance of Pakistan on its Western Borders.

Charan dewry
Guwahati, India
Order by
Order by
Short Takes
click for more
recent tags
Barack Obama
Minority & Religious
Mobile Phones
Religious Discrimination
Science & Technology
A. Sanzgiri
Boria Majumdar
Dipsikha Thakur
Dr Mohammad Taqi
Freya Dasgupta
G. Rajaraman
K.V. Bapa Rao
Landing Lights
Maheshwer Peri
Namrata Joshi
Omar Ali
Our Readers Write Back
Outlook Web Desk
Outlook Web Desk
Prachi Pinglay-Plumber
Prarthna Gahilote
Shefalee Vasudev
Srishti Gupta
Sundeep Dougal
Sunil Menon
recent comments
The launch of the second volume of President Pranab...
Poll Started on: Feb 05, 2016
After an initial sighting some years ago, the Zika...
Siddhartha Mishra


OUTLOOK TOPICS:    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
Or just type in a few initial letters of a topic: