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Debating Targeted KillingCounter-Terrorism or Extrajudicial Execution?$
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Tamar Meisels and Jeremy Waldron

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190906917

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190906917.001.0001

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(p.146) 3 Against
Debating Targeted Killing

Jeremy Waldron

Oxford University Press

The debate continues with Waldron’s presentation of several arguments against targeted killing. Most of these arguments focus on the killing itself and the difference that is made by the fact that the individuals on the government’s death lists are hunted down by name, often well away from any area of combat or imminent responsibility for terrorist attack. Though Waldron’s arguments, like Meisels’, focus on the actions of American and Israeli forces, it is important also to consider the likely proliferation of targeted killing as a standard technique of statecraft throughout the world. And that leads us to the possibility of governmental abuse of targeted killing authority. The term “terrorist” is easily extended just as the term “imminent” is being stretched by defenders of targeted killing to ensure that targets are available. There is a danger that targeted killing might be used against insurgents as well as terrorists, not to mention successful criminals and political opponents. And the practice of targeted killing tends to weaken the inhibition against assassination that until now has characterized civilized political life.

Keywords:   Key Words, assassination, collateral damage, counter-terrorism, death lists, drones, extrajudicial killing, hunting, murder, political killings, proliferation, terrorism

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