Saturday, February 11, 2012

LD 2012 Mar/Apr Topic Analysis

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Resolved: Targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool.

The NFL seems determined to thoroughly examine morality this season and so once again we ARE asked to debate an issue of moral permissiveness.  I have always liked topics involving international relations since I find international relations theories so fascinating but this one seems less about international relations and more about international politics.  I will reserve any comments about the morality of politics.  Nevertheless, targeted assassination can be an interesting topic, it has huge national security implications, and it is certainly current in light of the recent assassination of Osama Bin Ladin.  Assassination, murder, targeted killing; are they equal in their moral implications?

Targeted Killing Is...
As we recall from the Domestic Violence LD topic, a lot of liberty can be found in good intentions, or better yet, actions which we deem moral in purpose.  I may kill you if my purpose and method in doing so is morally justifiable.  The most prominent example of this involves self-defense.  I am morally justified to use what ever force is necessary to repel your imminent threat upon my life even if I foresee my response may result in your death.  Of primary importance, my intention must be moral and the intent to preserve my life is considered a moral intent. Further one may add, my response must be proportional to the threat and without alternative.  So really, targeted killing is a form of justifiable, state sponsored, intentional killing of an individual who is not in custody of the state.  It is considered an act of self-defence because the targeted individual is considered a terrorist or "unlawful combatant" as defined by the applicable Geneva Conventions.

Unlawful Combatant Is...
An unlawful combatant can loosely be defined as an individual who engages in acts of war without the approval of a co-belligerent state.  In other words, should I conduct acts of war against Canada without the approval of the United States government, Canada may consider me an unlawful combatant. If the United States was at war with Canada we would be considered co-belligerents by other states.  In that case, I may still be considered an unlawful combatant if I operate outside of the jurisdiction of the United States government.  Without going into a long history lesson, suffice to say, the several Geneva Conventions which have been conducted through the decades have resulted in internationally accepted rules for how wars should be justly conducted and establish, among many things, the rules which govern how enemy combatants should be treated, especially prisoners of war.  Under the rules of the Third Geneva Convention, first adopted in 1929 and updated in 1949, part one, articles three through five provide the basis for defining comabatants and how they they should be treated and much of the remaining parts deal specifically with the treatment of these combatants when they are captured.

In the provisions of the Third Geneva Convention, an "unlawful" combatant who is captured may be granted the protections and rights afforded "lawful" combatants but it is not required.  The U.S. has justified its treatment of prisoners in Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by claiming the detainees are unlawful enemy combatants and therefore not subject to the rules of the Geneva Convention and need not be afforded the same protections granted other prisoners of war.  They are considered "unlawful" combatants because they were engaged in acts of war but were not sponsored by the co-belligerent states.

The Topic Analysis
This topic is huge and so to do it justice, I think I will establish a multi-part analysis of the topic. As I add analyses, I will provide links below:

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