Is Targeted Assassination the American Way? Cte’d

A few days ago I raised the question of whether targeted assassinations in Iraq are helpful, when they kill so many civilians, and whether we weren’t emulating Israel too much (again).

Turns out that in late June on Democracy Now, Juan Gonzales brought up the same issue in a dialog with Josh Block of AIPAC (also Norm Finkelstein, on whose site the transcript is posted):

GONZALES: on the targeted assassinations that Israel has often participated, has often executed in Palestinian territories, we hear repeatedly of innocent civilians. Putting aside the fact whether the people who were targeted were actually terrorists or not, because we have Israel’s reporting that they are, but the innocent civilians that are inevitably killed in these missile attacks, how is that justified as not terrorism against a civilian population?

BLOCK: You’re absolutely right. Those incidents are deeply regrettable. I think any one of us would say that. And I think any American, any Israeli, would say that innocent people who are killed as a result of a military action unintentionally, that’s a tragedy. But there’s, again, a moral difference between an army — Israel’s military goes to great lengths to prevent those kinds of incidents,

I don’t think that’s a good answer because the historical pattern here is now so established; i.e., claims of innocent intention cease to have a real significance when the innocent bodies just continue to pile up on both sides (and more on the Palestinian side). (Read Henry Siegman’s keen insight here).

My questioning of the tactic stems from a conversation with Peter Voskamp, editor of the Block Island Times. Here’s his rap:

My first inkling about the “Israeli-if-ication” of the military visavis targeted
assassinations struck me in the opening days of the Iraq war when
the TV was reporting breathlessly that Saddam had been targeted and hit
by a giant bomb. It turned out to be a miss.

But my reaction has less to do with tactics themselves
necessarily than how it’s presented to the public. It’s probably been an
old and obvious military tactic to knock out the leadership, but the
chest thumping and direct reporting of it as a good and applaudable
approach, I’d argue, is new, and to my thinking, something the American
public has become inured/ desensitized to with endless nightly news
reports about the Israelis knocking out various Palestinian leaders as
they drive through Gaza or are caught in their safe-house, as the most
run-of-the-mill event.

Is Targeted Assassination the American Way? Cte’d