If targeted for assassination would Saddam be justifed putting a contract out on Bush

Nightline last night had an interesting segment on the politics and murky legalities or state sponsored assassination re the current administrations somewhat “wink-wink” coy posture on this issue and the prospect of killing Saddam.

If it was determined that Bush had authorized a “hit” on Saddam would Saddam be legally/morally justified in contracting for a hit of his own on Bush? Would we have an moral or legal room to be outraged at this if our adminstration is doing the same thing?

I would not like the fact that our government assainated a leader of another country. I do not think that would ever be proven if it did actually happen. The world would believe that it had been done, though. since they already see the USA as a bully.

No, it would not be morally acceptable for either country to kill another country’s leader. Didn’t they use to say that two wrongs do not make a right?

How about in a war?

…and perhaps in the hope that it prevents one. A loaded notion to say that it might work, but if it does…

But we can kill their army?

Pre-emptive assassination. What a great idea!

Well, it violates the Geneva Convention to target a specific leader. I don’t know if that’s going to apply to a war with Iraq. It would set a really ugly precedent for us to do that, and it wouldn’t be any more morally right for them to target our president as it would be for us to target theirs first.

That said, it would be a really stupid thing for Bush to do. Even if Hussein gets killed by a cluster bomb that takes out 100 other people, it’s gonna look bad. To specifically target him is going to piss off all sorts of people in positions of power and authority.

And, to answer the OP, “turnabout is fair play.”

How sure are we that Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate George Bush the elder? If one country violates the Geneva Convention, is it “okay” for the victim of the violation to respond in kind?

Another question: how does a “cease fire” differ from a state of war? How does a cease-fire violation differ from an act of aggression in peacetime?

As I see it, the U.S. would be fully within its legal rights to bomb the North Korean nuclear reactors, without warninig or notice. We’re at war with North Korea! And, as much as I don’t want it to happen, I believe that Bush would be completely within his legal rights to launch a massive attack on the Iraqi “command structure,” with the unspoken intent to get Saddam.

(A similar attack on Libya with the unspoken intent to get Khaddafi was – probably, and just barely – legal.)


Two stories:

In the hours before the beginning of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, as the French army was deploying along the ridge of La Belle Alliance facing the Anglo-German-Dutch army commanded by the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon trooped the front of his army well within the range of the Allied canons. On of the gunners asked for permission to take a shot at the Emperor, a move that if successful would have avoided the thousands of deaths that followed in the next few hours. The Iron Duke refused permission saying “It is not the business of generals to shoot at each other.”

In a class on defensive positions a gaggle of young officers was shown how to deploy cans of jellied gasoline as part of the defense of a fixed position. After studying the proposition on of the students turned to the instructor and asked if it was correct that anything we did to them they could do to us.

There is your conflict—it is not the business of generals and heads of state to be shooting at each other like common private soldiers, but anything we do to them we can expect them to do to us.

Cite, please?

As for the morality of the situation, yes, Saddam gets to hit Bush if Bush gets to hit Saddam. In fact, once we start bombing presidential palaces, Saddam gets to bomb our government buildings. War, ladies and gentlemen, is nasty stuff.

We know that Saddam Hussein already attempted to assassinate George H. W. Bush at a time when he was no longer President. The fourth plane on 9/11 was believed to be aiming at the Capital or the White House. So, al Qaeda may already have tried to assassinate George W. Bush. Colin Powell has described a degree of cooperation between al Qaeda and Iraq. There’s no evidence that Iraq was connected with the 9/11 attack, but they may be connected with the next major al Qaeda attack.

So, it’s reasonable to assume that Saddam may try to assassinate President Bush regardless of what Bush does.

Old friend December, your capacity to accept balderdash as unimpeachable truth, to jump the widest gaps of reason and logic to reach a desired conclusion and to cling to any shred of information, no matter how dubious, which leads to the desired result exceeds my feeble capacity to understand.

The Saddam tried to rub out George H.W. Bush has been pretty well debunked as the self-serving disinformation of the Kuwaiti intelligence service.

Likewise, the existence of a conspiracy between Osama and Saddam beyond a shared hostility toward the United States is pretty tenuous.

That the 9-11 terrorists might have been aiming at the White House hardly provides a basis to go after Saddam as an act of retribution.

To repeat :

Can you get any more hypothetical and conjectural than this?

Although I can understand why political leaders would want to make political assassination illegal, I know of no compelling ethical system that would at the same time legalize war. If it is wrong to kill the leaders of another country for any reason, then it should be wrong to kill their civilians as well. In other words, the legality question only exists because politicians believe in covering their own asses.

If the choice is war with Iraq or the assassination of Saddam, then give me assassination. Of course, those aren’t the only two available choices…

As for the question–does assassinating Saddam legitimize attempts on Bush in retribution–I would take that as a given, but as President he’s a potential target anyway and always will be. That consideration goes with the head of state as it has since there have been states to head.

IMO “outrage” is mostly out of place in the politico-covert arena. They spy on our factories, we spy in their skies. They put our plane into the Pentagon, we put their leaders in the morgue. (“That’s the Chicago way.”) It’s ugly, period, and both sides will attempt to justify their actions in the cloak of righteousness. Maybe one side is more right than the other, maybe a war is justified, but there’s always more than enough moral dirt to smear on everyone regardless of the circumstances or outcome.


As President-for-life-and-Supreeme-Commander-of-the-Republican-Guards, Saddam is arguably a legitimate target. Ever notice those starched fatigues with rows of medals and ribbons?

His position has a dual nature; we cannot target Saddam-as-Supreme-Military-Commander without also bagging Saddam-the-President. Does that mean we forego targeting him?

It’s a thin line, and one that only a politician and/or a lawyer could argue with a straight face.

I wonder: if Saddam ceases to be a human entity on this Earth, what will all of his General cronies, or his scumbag sons, do? Aceing Saddam may only be the tip of the Baathist iceberg. Rather than let that cat out of the bag, I’d rather forego potting Saddam (to forestall the possibility of touching off a civil war/power play at the top), blow the shit out of his military forces, get them all to surrender and send them all to live in exile. In France.

It’s the least we could do to them. The French, I mean.

This is news to me. Do you have a cite?

Shared hostility toward the US is what I’m worried about.

I agree. I never claimed that it did provide such a basis. Some of what you see as “balderdash” may be a consequence of slapdash reading on your part.

December, you can try this for starters

Legally, no clue. Morally? I do not think Saddam is a legitimate leader of his people so therefore moral justification is there. Especially when you think of all of the good it would actually do for his people.


Any other sources besides Mr Hersh? Not to cast aspersions on a Pulitzer-prize winner, even one with an apparent agenda with his sub-plots and conspiracies of past administrations. But, going along with the article itself, it seems he is trying to fight heresay with theories (conspiracy and other) based upon his assumptions. Debunked is a rather strong word without substantial evidence, wich I have not found in the article.

What Saen said.

Also, the whole moral equation of “if I try to kill you, you are justified in trying to kill me” makes no sense in a vacuum.

If you are sitting at your PC posting to the SDMB, that’s one thing. If you are trying to rape and murder a child, not only am I entirely justified in killing you, you have no moral right to try to kill me in return.

Saddam Hussein and George Bush are simply not equivalent moral agents. It takes a pretty rabid anti-Bush partisan to argue that he deserves to die. People who believe that Saddam Hussein achieving room temperature would be a net benefit to the world are pretty common.

Legally, I believe the prohibition against assassinating a foreign leader comes from a Presidental order, not yet rescinded. So to specifically target Saddam would be illegal. Morally, I think you could justify it, although it might be a stretch, based on the principles of a just war.

Practically, it’s a slam dunk, and “a consummation devoutly to be wished”.


Thanks for the cite. As Saen says, this assassination story is not “debunked.” A better word is “questioned.” Even Hersh doesn’t claim that the story is false; he merely says that the evidence is inconclusive.

Hersh is a fine writer and researcher. Still, his article managed to drag in other, spearate stories that were debunked and even Vietnam. These have no evidentiary value with regard to the alleged Bush assassination attempt.