Me and a friend the other day were discussing assassinations throughout history, and as we flowed through the discussion I brought up dictators, and thus I thought it would be a good idea to get some feed back from Think Atheist. (Thank you very much for all the responses from my last post)


My point is simple. Dictators are a threat to international peace, not just their own people. Their tendency to attack other countries in order to divert attention from their unpopular (I am talking about you North Korea!) actions at home means that assassination is justified as a means of preventing a terrible war, which might rapidly become a regional or global conflict. Has everyone forgot that a North Korea sub blew up a South Korean military ship? Imagine if that happened to a U.S. Ship!

If scruples over the morality of our actions prevent us pursuing a greater good, it will never be possible to oppose evil effectively. Where should we draw the line with these people? Dictators themselves ignore normal ethical standards and international conventions, so they effectively place themselves beyond the protection of the law.

I want to know what you think. Can the assassination of a dictator be justified?

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Well, I don't think it's dictatorships that are the major threat to world peace. That dubious honor goes to the USA.

It invaded Korea and installed a dictatorship. It invaded Vietnam and installed a dictatorship. It installed a dictatorship in Egypt. It installed a secular dictatorship in Iraq, then overthrew it and replaced it with a Muslim dictatorship. It installed a dictatorship in Panama. It installed a dictatorship in Afghanistan--and dozens of other countries, on and on and on. And the USA installed Israel after WWII for the express purpose of fomenting terrorism in the ME.

Only the USA has 800 bases around the world--bases that exist only to intimidate and subjugate the freedom of people. Many Americans live well, but it is at the expense of others.
Will, the USA did not install Israel. The United Nations did, and in fact, the Brits were the ones that brought up the idea of the creation of Israel in order to get them to participate in attacking the underbelly of the Axis. They also promised the same land to the Palestinians. Promising the same land to two people generally creates conflicts.

You must not know too much about the Korean War, as American Forces were not allowed to move past the 38th parallel, and did not set foot in North Korea, much to the lament of General MacArthur. The regime that exists in North Korea now is a direct descendant from Iron Curtain Communism the United States was fighting for fifty years. Panama was by no means installation either. It came from a direct result of years of fighting for independence from a fascistic Columbian government, who coincidentally, did not want to lease the USA the canal, which gave us an economic reason to aid Panama forces in seeking independence, so we lent them our navy for a day. We did not install their government. Nor did we install the Taliban. We aided them in fighting the soviets and they took power in the chaos that ensued.

Saddam rose to power through the ranks of Iraqi politics, with zero help from the United States until the Iraq-Iran War, in which we lent him money and protected the investment by lending him weapons. Iraq, while being the most secular in the middle east, was not a secular country.

Am I calling the United States a pretty little angel? No. But I am defending it against your ill-researched charges that are smothered in conspiracy theory. If you want to point to US installed totalitarian societies point to Chile, that's the most obvious one. Point to Haiti, Venezuela, El Salvador, Cambodia. There are plenty of places you can point, just not the ones you mentioned.
Saddam Hussein would never have gotten into power without US help
http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/51/217.html
During Iran-Iraq war US sold weapons and gave false strategic advice to both sides http://www.zcommunications.org/fueling-the-iran-iraq-slaughter-by-l...
Saddam Hussein would never have gotten into power without US help

First, Saddam was not the head of the Baath party nor anywhere close to it when the United States pulled off the coup. So Saddam was one of MANY benefactors of that coup.

Second, "The US installed a secular dictatorship in Iraq" would imply that the United States placed Saddam Hussein in power. Those secular initiatives were started by Saddam himself after he had risen to power in Iraq. This is blatantly false as your sources corroborate my statement that he rose to power through Iraqi politics on his own.

Third, yea, he would not have had the opportunity to rise to power without US intervening in a previous coup. It's called an unforeseen direct consequence. It's not like it was part of the plan. They wanted to eliminate a Russian friendly government.

It's not an A therefore B chain of events. There are a myriad of factors and variables that went through his individual rise to the Baath party that nobody could have predicted and I hope you are not suggesting such.
@Ryan E. Hoffman,
You must not know too much about the Korean War, as American Forces were not allowed to move past the 38th parallel, and did not set foot in North Korea, much to the lament of General MacArthur.
I don't claim to be an expert on the Korean War, but I know that US forces advanced well past the 38th parallel. In fact, they liberated Pyongyang (on 19 October 1950) and had almost reached the Yalu River when China entered the war and ousted the UN forces from North Korea. MacArthur's lament was that he was not permitted to expand the war to China.

You're badly mistaken on this point, at least.
I stand corrected.

I just re-read up on the conflict and it seems that the advance which you speak of was one of the reasons why MacArthur was removed as Supreme Commander.

MacArthur had many laments: not being able to use Nuclear Weapons, not being able to force China to surrender, not being able to criticize Truman publicly, all of which were other reasons for his dismissal.
MacArthur was told that he could advance past the 38th parallel if it was unlikely that China would enter the war. When China did come to NK's aid, that made his decision to push north subject to second guessing.
Ryan, I believe Will was referring to the dictatorships in South Korea and South Vietnam that we supported, along with that in Taiwan. The original example of Panama was one in which the US helped a rebellion for our interest. Many years later we supported Manuel Noriega becoming a dictator, before he was overthrown by our government after a falling-out.

In the case of Iraq we did indeed support a coup, first by Abdel Karim and his Baathist faction, then another Baathist faction we supported that spawned Saddam Hussein. He was our ally for many years, especially during the Iran-Iraq War when the US gave him arms. It is true that the US did not install the Taliban, however we did support mujihadeen who became them in fighting the USSR and its Afghan allies. The current regime was of course installed by the US, along with the Iraqi government.

The government of Iran was overthrown in 1953 at US instigation, which resulted with the revolution of 1979 and backlash against us. There are many, many more countries we can point to in which the US overthrew or helped overthrow regimes or interfered directly and indirectly otherwise. Since 1945, the US has bombed over 100 countries, as an example, from Guatemala to Congo.
In the case of Iraq we did indeed support a coup, first by Abdel Karim and his Baathist faction, then another Baathist faction we supported that spawned Saddam Hussein. He was our ally for many years, especially during the Iran-Iraq War when the US gave him arms. It is true that the US did not install the Taliban, however we did support mujihadeen who became them in fighting the USSR and its Afghan allies.

That is exactly what I have been saying in regards to Saddam, and the Taliban. It was not intended that these people gain power. It happened as a long term consequence of us fighting a Soviet regime. Here's a moral question, would you rather the alternative: a Soviet influenced Middle East rather than American? I think, from my Religious Responsibility article's intense debate on the subject of Communism you know where I stand on that one.

Again, I never said the United States was an angelic force. I was quibbling over the historical facts. Now, it seems, I have to brush up on my Korean War history to revisit this discussion. I'll close with this: some horrific things have been done, and are still being done by the United States Government. I fully acknowledge that. However, I will defend it vigorously from simpleton and ignorant arguments such as "it is the biggest threat to world peace."
While Will was incorrect in some of his points so are you. Case in point, the Taliban.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who worked for the Jimmy Carter administration, admitted in an article published in Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998 that the US started training and arming the mujahideen 6 months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The purpose was two-fold, to draw the Soviet Union into a Vietnam-like war it could not win and to allow the spread of radical Islam within the individual Soviet states which would curb the spread of Soviet policies in the Mid-East.

After ten years of fighting the USSR finally left but the US didn't disarm the militants. Those militants went on to become the Taliban. While it's not the same as Pinochet's rise to power in Chile it is still the fault of the US that the Taliban rose to power as they did it with US weapons and US funding, like the $2m that the US gave them in the spring of 2001 for fighting drugs.
wow, sorry but you've been reading the wrong books...
First - as Kris pointed out, justified to whom?

Second - who decides what constitutes a dictatorship? And would the same body decide what then constitutes a dangerous dictator?

Third - Should we stop at just national leaders?

Fourth - Are you prepared to accept the assassination attempts by dictators on the leaders of governments that, they feel, threaten their national stability and sovereignty?

Fifth - Would it not be better to actively promote economic recovery and the formation of an educated middle class, thus laying the foundations of a democratic movement?

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