This house would assassinate dictators

Assassination can be defined as the targeted killing of an individual for political reasons in peacetime. It can be undertaken by individual citizens, or by the agents of another state, but in either case it takes place without any legal process. Assassinating a dictator is often considered in the context of Hitler and Stalin, or of secret CIA action against foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro in the Cold War period (after this became public knowledge in the mid-1970s US Presidents have banned the use of assassination by Executive Order). However, this issue regained topicality in the 1990s as leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic pursued bloody careers which threatened international peace. In recent years US airstrikes apparently aimed at killing Muammar Qaddafi of Libya (1986), Osama Bin Laden (1998) and Saddam Hussein (1991 and 2003) have provoked argument - were these assassination attempts or did these leaders have the status of enemy combatants in a time of war? Certainly the UN Charter (Article 24) and various conventions (e.g New York Convention) clearly appear to make assassination in peacetime against international law. Proponents nevertheless argue that assassinations are necessary for the greater good of preventing civilian suffering.


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