Let no holds be barred in opposing international terror

War, it's been said over and over, is hell. Over recorded millennia, wars have been accompanied by untold dismemberment of innocents, death, destruction, rape, trauma, and other human suffering and loss. Regardless who prevails, war means losses on all sides. There are no winners in fights among nations, particularly in an age at risk of nuclear and chemical holocaust.
The United States, we're told, is engaged in a violent struggle against antagonists not confined by, nor do they respect, national boundaries. This is something relatively new for Americans, who are historically accustomed to waging wars against nations or identifiable peoples.
Current American rules maintain that it is not lawful or respectable to assassinate individuals -- even those who perpetrate crimes against civilians on an ongoing basis. Plans and attempts by the CIA and the Kennedy administration to assassinate Fidel Castro in the 1960s might be cited as a notable example to the contrary.
Executive Order, issued December 4, 1981 (published in 46 F.R. 59941) by Ronald Reagan, states in part:

2.11 Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.
A nation founded by rag-tag bands of street-fighters can not win against modern-day terrorists while constrained by the equivalent of Marquis of Queensbury boxing rules.

2.12 Indirect Participation. No agency of the Intelligence Community shall participate in or request any person to undertake activities forbidden by this Order.

It is time to rethink this policy.

On August 20, 1998, President Clinton announced missile assaults upon terrorist-related facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan because of imminent threats which these sites were said to incur against American national security. Military action was certainly justified, and Clinton was right to take it. But officials in the Sudan claim, rightly or not, that the bombed factory was actually a penicillin plant and served no military purpose. This is difficult for us to know, but benefit of the doubt should go to American intelligence in planning the assault.
But in addition to taking out chemical factories and training camps, a more decisive course would be to seek out and either capture or kill the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden himself, like any other criminal.
Having declared war on the United States, bin Laden is said to be responsible for recent bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, resulting in over 300 deaths; the killing of American, Belgian and Pakistani peacekeepers in Somalia; plotting to assassinate the President of Egypt and the Pope; the bombing of six U.S. 747s over the Pacific; the bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan; and gunning down German tourists in Egypt.
If it is true that bin Laden is responsible for these crimes, America should not be constrained by a rule against assassinations. Put bluntly, if at all possible, the man should be taken out in order to save the lives. It is not better, or more civilized, to target industrial centers or training sites, while the murderers themselves go unscathed.
Historians tell us that England lost the American Revolution, in part, because British strategists were unable or unwilling to modify their approaches in responding to musket-wielding farmers. As the British army two centuries ago was unprepared to fight a relatively disorganized band of rag-tag volunteers, who were not opposed to shooting officers on the battlefield (a practice abhorred by European soldiers of the day), modern America should not be strait-jacketed and have the roles reversed by an "ethical" policy which serves no purpose but to protect international criminals from justice.
At the height of World War II, given the opportunity and ability to do so what loyal American would have shrunk from the opportunity to assassinate Hitler? Yet such an act could not be committed by the U.S. government today, even under similar circumstances.
A nation founded by rag-tag bands of street-fighters will never win out against modern-day terrorists while constrained by the equivalent of Marquis of Queensbury boxing rules.
Level the field. Protect civilians by holding terrorists personally accountable.

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