In 1932 a young American student, Tony Duke, was touring Europe with his mother, stepfather, and his older brother when they were invited to attend an Opera in Munich. Sitting just 10 rows from the stage, Tony noticed that several rows of seats directly in front of him were roped off for some still-to-arrive VIPs.
During the opera’s second act these VIPs indeed made a grand entrance: The opera house’s spotlight illuminated them as they took their seats. Half the audience stood and gave an enthusiastic ovation while the other half nervously sat on their hands. Tony immediately noticed the brown uniforms and Swastika insignias on their arms as his older, more knowledgeable brother whispered to him, “That is Adolph Hitler.”
The soon-to-be German dictator sat in the seat directly in front of Tony.
For the rest of the evening, Tony stared as the back of Hitler’s head and neck and wondered what would happen if he could reach over and use his hands to kill this evil man who would soon begin a war that would kill over 12 million people.
In fact, ever since that night, Tony Duke, now 92 and still going strong, has had a frequent, recurring dream: What if he had killed Hitler?
Oh, how the world would have been different!
One terrible man’s death might have prevented 12 million others because Hitler was a unique, singular form of evil leader who would not and could not have been replaced with someone with his maniacal vision, oratorical inspiration and delusional narcissism.
Of course, no one killed Hitler. He took his own life in the spring of 1945 in his Berlin bunker.
OK. Jump to today. The United States has just led the way into Libya, where another brutal, delusional maniac has raped and bullied sovereign nation for over 40 years. (Please let’s put aside the argument that we should not be involved in this Libyan conflict; that is indeed my view. We cannot be the world’s policeman but just for the sake of argument, please follow the following logic.)
Suddenly the United States and its allies have decided to aid the anti-Gadhafi rebels, but we have also announced that we are not targeting Gadhafi. Then officials cite the long-standing executive order prohibiting assassination of foreign leaders.
Indeed, on Feb. 18, 1976, in the wake of revelations of widespread CIA abuses of power, President Ford signed Executive Order 11905, which re-defined the roles of various intelligence agencies and what was and was not acceptable behavior.
Included in this order was this one line: Prohibition of Assassination.
No employee of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.
That prohibition remains in effect today. An executive order has the force of law — with one exception: Any subsequent president of the United States can change it; Congress has nothing to do with it.
So let us consider this: Isn’t is smarter, easier, cheaper, and more humane to decapitate the Tripoli regime by assassinating Gadhafi, than killing thousands of his followers, soldiers, local workers who have been forced at gunpoint to toe the line,and leaving him still in power?
Why have this self-imposed restriction on assassinating an evil leader who is a threat to the world when eliminating him is the single most effective way to stop the threat?
Wouldn’t it also have been better to assassinate Saddam Hussein than to invade his country, killing tens of thousands of Iraqis in the process, not to mention thousands of U.S. soldiers killed or wounded?
“Regime change” through assassination would not work in the case of China as that government is not driven by one maniac; indeed, it is run by the Communist Party, which is a collection of maniacs.
Let’s face it: We did try to kill Gadhafi the first night when a Tomahawk cruise missile slammed into his compound. We also tried in 1986 when we bombed Libya and his tent. But these two attempts were ancillary to a larger bombing campaign. If we really wanted to get him, we could.
It would save a lot of lives.
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