March 11, 2010

Assassinations, moral calculus, and "feelings"

By: Sonny Bunch

Over at the League, Scott H. Payne published an email conversation between he and Mike at The Big Stick over the targeted assassination of a Hamas leader by (probably) the Mossad. The most telling comment from Scott is this one, I think:

That being said, choosing to assassinate someone as opposed to engaging in conventional warfare with a group someones doesn’t leave me with nothing in the pit of my stomach, just a different something and, in many regards, of equal weight. But let’s not walk around acting as if there is nothing in the pits of our stomachs because, this time, we chose to assassinate someone.

It is still a decision that we should be torn up about

Emphasis (and double emphasis) mine. That “should” there is the kicker. Why should we be torn up about a terrorist who is responsible for the deaths of numerous civilians — indeed, who presently acts as a conduit for a terrorist organization to procure weapons that will kill still more numerous civilians — being killed in a surgical operation that inflicts absolutely no collateral damage open other innocent civilians? He was a bad man who deserved to die. In fact, he deserved to die far more than your average soldier on the battlefield who is simply waging an honorable but bloody campaign because politics by other means have failed.

Scott, and others like him who waffle about the righteousness of this attack, simply can’t understand it when someone doesn’t feel a moral twinge when a bad guy gets killed because hey, he’s a person too and we should feel bad when all people are killed.* I’m sorry, but I can’t understand why I should feel guilty about a mass-murdering terrorist meeting a swift and brutal (but not nearly as brutal as he deserved) fate. Not only am I glad he’s dead, but I celebrate his death and wish all such men could be eliminated in the same way: quickly and efficiently with no risk to innocent civilians. The world would be a far better place with them gone. There is nothing immoral about killing an evil man. Indeed, I would argue that it’s immoral to allow him to live and kill future innocent civilians if you are presented with the opportunity to take him out in a way that endangers no one and fail to do so.

*At least, I think that’s what Scott’s getting at. He’s free to correct me if I’m wrong.