Can assassinations by governments be justified?

  john bunyan 17:17 17 May 2012
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It is the 70th anniversary of the assassination of a the Nazi Heydrich in Czechoslovakia by SOE agents planned and trained in UK. There have been many other planned and actual such events,(plan to kill Castro by CIA, etc) and the more recent Bin Laden case. A very difficult moral question. On balance there may , occasionally be a justified case in my view (Had someone killed Hitler, would WW2 have occurred ?). For anyone interested in the 70 year old case there is a series of lectures etc in London soon. See

wiener library

  john bunyan 17:19 17 May 2012
  spuds 17:31 17 May 2012

This is perhaps a subject that most government would deny, but in reality practise on the basis that the public might not understand or appreciate?.

When an assassination takes place, then its a start of another era, or suppose to be. It doesn't always solve the problem though!.

I suppose you could call war (of any description) an assassination, but on a far larger circle?.

  bremner 18:37 17 May 2012

Heyrich was not a victim of government assasination. We were at war with Germany and was a quite legimate target like any other soldier during a war.

  Condom 19:21 17 May 2012

If I remember my history correctly the assassination of Heydrich brought terrible reprisals to the residents of Czechoslovakia as well as Himmler bringing in someone even worse so apart from the initial good news it had a very sorry outcome and seemingly did little good.

  interzone55 20:03 17 May 2012

If I ran a country and had the option of either "taking out" a foreign leader, or spending a decade or so and tens of millions to prosecute them in the International War Crimes courts I know which option I'd go for, and it wouldn't enrich a team of lawyers

  finerty 20:24 17 May 2012

What happens if a foreign Government kills in the UK, i known its happened with the KGB but what about all the other countries that could do such a thing. Do we take action for our same and similar actions we take abroad... and try to justify it as maybe these foreign government may choose to do the same or deny any involvement as in the case of the GB, USA, Israel Russia, etc etc

  morddwyd 21:03 17 May 2012

Heydrich was a full General in the SS and a legitimate military target.

Those who killed him were, ostensibly, soldiers.

Assassination, in the sense of a close-up, pre-planned, cold blooded murder, of heads of state or government has not, in the past, been regarded as a legitimate war operation, mainly because `such leaders themselves know that once started they would all be at risk!

However, targeted bombing or artillery fire on areas or facilities where such targets are believed to be has`long been practised.

With the advent of irregular or special forces, and terrorist tactics, the lines are now becoming much more blurred.

  Forum Editor 22:56 17 May 2012

"If I ran a country and had the option of either "taking out" a foreign leader, or spending a decade or so and tens of millions to prosecute them in the International War Crimes courts I know which option I'd go for, and it wouldn't enrich a team of lawyers"

There, in a nutshell, you have the problem, beautifully illustrated.

Someone in a position of power decides that another person must be 'taken out'as a matter of expediency. Not because the individual involved has been tried by due process of law and found guilty, but because he or she has become a problem. It's about the most dangerous way of thinking there is - murder masquerading as a justifiable act.

  Quickbeam 00:30 18 May 2012

It's best kept, if done, done behind closed doors, no need for a public approval vote.

And I'm sure it's not just banana republic dictators that participate in it.

  mole44 05:35 18 May 2012

1988 the SAS shot IRA gang in Gibralter,so yes it does happen and always will.Lets face it assasinations happen we the public will not know,there hardly going to inform the press and let us all into the secret.Another possible candidate was Dr Kelly in the Iraq debacle.

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