HistoricalMullet: Nuremburg or Decapitation Strike

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First analysis on the use of targeted military strikes on leaders of violent forces and the implications of imminent threat. In the end, in this case, I got my wish that Saddam stood trial and was executed. See Discussion at the end for additional commentary. (9/30/2023)

Watching the events on TV this evening (another missile attack on Saddam and leadership) I wonder as I have a few times in the past few years which is better: The utility of quickly killing a known threat OR capturing them and putting them on trials, ultimately executing them for their crimes (like the Nuremberg trials of german officials).

Since 9/11 this internal debate has shifted from terrorist leaders to Saddam and his henchmen. I guess in the beginning of a conflict, when they still have the power to cause great harm, I understand and would accept military strikes to kill them. Towards the end of a conflict, where their command and control makes them virtually ineffective, I would much prefer a capture and public trial, followed by judgment and execution of sentence. At Nurember I believe all but one hung, and he was sentenced to life in jail and either committed suicide or died in jail.

Trying to decide which I’d like to see more now, Saddam pulled dead out of a bomb strike or a trial for his crimes now that he is effectively out of power.

(important note: the above sentiment does not change my initial opposition for going to war at this time, nor is it an apology that military successes can absolve us of our diplomatic failures)


At this point, I rather see him taken alive. Like you said, at the start, get him if able… but now, take him alive. Either way, once he’s killed, some fanatics will still see him as a martyr.

I may be totally wrong (someone correct me if I am) but I’m not familiar with a martyrdom terrorist strike following any open, public, and fair trial of a terrorist leader. Ocalan(sp) was caught, tried, and convicted in Turkey and there haven’t been any retribution strikes in his name two years later, the same can’t be said of extrajudicial killings however.

If someone has an example of a terrorist strike in response to an open trial and conviction I may be proven wrong however.

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