Terrorism has fundamentally changed the nature of international relations as a whole. With the emergence of small, non government organizations (or NGOs) that have the capability to inflict massive amounts of damage to life and property, states as a whole now face a strong challenge to their internal security that was never seen as such a grave threat before. As a response to this challenge, the United States has instituted a policy of targeted killing against suspects that were believed to be instrumental in the terrorist attacks on the U.S.S. Cole and the World Trade Center. These sorts of attacks have been condemned by military pundits, peace organizations, and many scholars as assassinations or extra-judicial executions, and not at all permissible under common norms and treaties governing international war. However, the increase in the use of terrorism has changed the way that states in the international system view the legality of targeted killings. Since the 1600s, the use of targeted killings and assassinations was considered reproachable and not a viable option to practice state politics. This norm has changed, especially in more recent years. The use of targeted killings by the United States and Israel against Islamic extremists has, while not completely destroying it, removed much of the taboo surrounding the use of targeted killings to protect the security and sovereignty of their respective states.
[...] The state of Israel has a much larger history in respect to the use of targeted killing as a political method of stopping enemies. As a brief history, in the 1950s and 1960s, targeted killings were mostly aimed at Egypt and the military dictatorial regime under Gamal Abdel Nasser, and were somewhat limited. The use of targeted killings, however, increased vastly after the end of the Six Day Arab-Israeli War in 1967. Now, targets were among the Palestinians who were committing terrorist attacks against Israel, who were initiating such attacks due to Israeli occupation of certain Palestinian territories. [...]
[...] The world has changed immensely in the previous century; non-state actors play an increasingly important, and often dangerous, role in international security. September marks the date when the world system changed into a much less predictable place. Hopefully, the normative change in using targeted killing will reap the benefit of deterring these terroristic threats to international security; if not, the world should hope that the problem is not merely exacerbated. Works Cited David, Steven R. "Fatal Choices: Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing." Mideast Security and Policy Studies (2002): 3-4. [...]
[...] First and foremost, the report stated that “short of war, assassination is incompatible with American principles, international order, and legitimacy.” In addition, the report stated that assassinations could: undermine the stability of these countries, undermine the notion of the United States' moral aptitude on the world scale, and finally, could cause a problem of reciprocity. Essentially, the report was worried that if the United States set a norm of political assassinations, our politicians would be vulnerable as well. The Ford administration reacted quickly, issuing Executive Order 11905, which prohibited political assassination (though it did not provide a strong definition of what this was). [...]
[...] "Judge Finds Sudan Is Liable in Cole Case." The New York Times 15 Mar Luft, Gal. "The Logic of Israel's Targeted Killing." Middle East Quarterly X (2003). The Middle East Forum. Winter Nov
[...] However, even in this circumstance, there was a large disagreement among the British government that this operation should be carried out; in the end, it wasn't. Hans Morganthau stipulates that speculations as to how long Hitler and Mussolini would stay alive formed an important part of the power calculations of the antifascist alliance Clearly, the allies knew the importance that political leaders played on the world stage; however, they were unwilling, at least initially, to sponsor a strategy of assassination. [...]
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