Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Political Realism, Targeted Killings, Signature Strikes


Political Realism, Targeted Killing, Signature Strikes

Peter Schultz


                  There is a connection between political realism and targeted killings and signature strikes, which promote the latter even when they are ineffective.


                  Political realists think that power is central to political life; that it is at the heart of politics, getting it, maintaining it, and using it. As a result, realists focus on the powerful, that is, the most powerful persons while thinking that if they are defeated, captured, or killed, then they will win, they will be secure because most powerful.


                  But, by obsessing over power, realists fail to appreciate the degree to which perceptions of justice lie at the roots of power. Awlaki, the Islamic preacher that Obama has assassinated, was powerful because of the perceived justice of his cause. The same applied to al Shabab in Somalia.


                  Killing or capturing the powerful doesn’t get to the roots of insurgencies, which lie in perceptions of injustice and desire for justice. And, therefore, killing the powerful who are deemed just will often prove futile and can never legitimize a counterinsurgency. Hence, realists and realistic policies will never, can never “win hearts and minds.” No counterinsurgency will ever do that unless it offers the insurgents some justice. Without such justice, the counterinsurgents power will be futile. Power doesn’t justify itself.


                  Thus, fetishizing about power not only leads frequently to savagery; it also leads to abysmal failures and disgrace.

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