Skip to comments.Licence to Kill: When Governments Choose to Assassinate (Hangman Also Die)
Posted on 03/24/2012 3:48:13 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Can state-sponsored assassination work as a strategy? And can it ever be justified? Governments don't admit to it, but Iranian nuclear scientists know it happens - and it's not easy to distinguish assassination from the US policy of "targeted killing".
Seventy years ago, a team of British-trained assassins were preparing to strike. Their target was Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most feared men in the Third Reich, then ruling Czechoslovakia.
Britain's recently formed Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Czechoslovak exile movement based in London both needed to make a mark.
The planning for Operation Anthropoid, as it was known, is detailed in formerly secret memos in the National Archives.
They reveal how two Czechoslovak volunteers trained in Britain and then parachuted in.
Secret memo: "The agents have been trained in all the methods of assassination" "The two agents concerned have been trained in all methods of assassination known to us," reads one memo from January 1942. "They intend to carry out this operation whether or not there is any opportunity of subsequent escape."
In May of that year, the men ambushed Heydrich's open-topped Mercedes as it cornered a sharp bend.
One man's Sten gun jammed but the other threw a modified bomb sending shrapnel flying.
Heydrich personally tried to chase down the men but the injuries inflicted that day would eventually claim his life.
Nazi reprisals were savage. In the village of Lidice, thought to be linked to the assassins, 173 men over the age of 16 were killed, every woman was sent to a concentration camp, every child dispersed, every building levelled.
This raises a question - is assassination effective?
"It certainly wasn't worth the countless victims that Nazi terror produced over the following weeks," argues Heydrich's biographer, Robert Gerwarth. And Heydrich's successor in Prague was even harsher,
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
The British were in fact at war with Germany. An assassination would be well within the bounds of that activity.
True. But the consequences were disastrous. See McDonald, Callum, The Killing of SS Obergruppen-Fuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, New York, Macmillan, 1989 for the gory details.
I devote a chapter in my book (see my tag line) to the topic of assassination. I conclude that while it's legitimate in some circumstances, it usually isn't worth the effort. There are very few historical instances of assassination improving things. In most cases it made things worse.
Moreover, it's difficult to do. There were over 30 documented attempts to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Only two even came close, and they failed.
Well, it worked pretty good for Obama.
Bin Laden be dead. Assassinated.
Also worked for FDR when he took out Yamamoto.
Well...yes. Yes it is.
History has shown it to be effective. If, of course, it is done correctly.
It is most effective when a specific pivotal player or group of pivotal players are targeted and eliminated.
Tyrants NEVER deserve a natural death. Letting them live seems worse in the long run.
And if one of the two assassination plots on Hitler was successful, why wouldn’t it have shortened the war by many months, if not a year? The Germans knew they were losing on the Eastern Front and not doing well on the Western Front, having lost all on the Southern Front (No. Africa/Italy).
There were German senior commanders who wanted to surrender to the West, not the Soviets. There might not have been a Battle of the Bulge, the Malmedy Massacre, other mass genocide in the concentrations camps (including the murder of my relatives), and the loss of millions of other civilians.
In fact, with Germany leaving the war, the Japanese would have been placed in a worse position than they were, and they might have surrendered earlier, thus saving us Iwo Jima (my father in law) and other killing zones in the Pacific, the Kamikazee attacks, and the atomic bombs (of which I fully approve).
Image killing Lenin, Stalin, Duvalier, Idi Amin, Nasser, Nasrullah, Bin Laden (got one), Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh/Giap, Kim Il Song, etc.
In many cases, if you take out the leader, the brains of the operation, you eventually destroy it. Look at what happened to the Sendero Luminoso in Peru and the Al Sayyef in the Philippines (they just lost most of their top people in an airstrike last week).
Assassination is a weapon of war, to be used sparingly and only to key targets (leaders), or terrorists in general. It can be very effective when used properly. Just ask those who died in Hitler’s concentration camps after the two failed attempts. They might have survived the war if he had been killed.
I'm not arguing that assassinating Hitler wouldn't have been a good idea. It would have. I'm arguing that assassination is very difficult. Hitler managed to survive over 30 attempts.
I'm also arguing that assassination is not guaranteed to make things better. Assassinating Hitler would have been great because there was no one to succeed him. The other Nazis were pretty poor dictator material. See, for instance, Davidson, Eugene, The Trial of the Germans, U. Missouri Press, 1997 (paperback), who describes the 22 top Nazis tried at Nuremberg as incredibly dull people.
On the other hand, assassinating Lenin would only have hastened the takeover by Stalin. Assassinating Stalin would only have hastened the takeover by one of the people who actually succeeded him, and continued his policies. Likewise, assassinating Mao would only have hastened the takeover by one of the people who succeeded him.
Assassination improves things only when it opens the way for someone better to step in. Replacing the victim by "more of the same" doesn't improve things.
Yes, Sir :-)
Millions of good people would have been saved through Hitler’s assassination.
To me it is one of the most saddening facts in history, that none of the 42 assassination attempts on this devil were ultimately successful :-(
I have often imagined a world in which famous people like Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krása or Anne Frank and her loved ones - not to mention all the countless other good people who had to die in the latter phase of the War - would have survived and probably be still with us.
And their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be with us, too.
Sorry about spreading my fantasies. When I think about it... just why is my screen so blurry once again?