Christopher Mott makes the case for restoring normal relations with Venezuela:
Danielle Pletka wants you to know that she thinks targeted killing “works”:
Targeted killing has become a tool of statecraft because it works, in the sense that it achieves the limited goals prescribed: A key individual, critical to an enemy’s agenda, is gone. It will not end Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but it can slow it down. It will not end Iran’s missile program, but it will cause many Iranians who might have signed up to think twice about the risks.
As with anything a government does, when someone says that something “works” our first question should always be, “works to do what?” Do sanctions work? If the goal is to impoverish and starve people, then they work very well in their cruel, sadistic way. If it is to achieve constructive changes in policy or changes in regime, they usually never work. The same goes for assassinations, as our government’s practice of targeted killing with drones should have already taught us long ago. Killing someone at the top can temporarily disrupt a terrorist organization, but in practice it tends to make that organization more dangerous and radical. Leaders can be replaced, and others will step up to fill the role that the dead men had. Short-term “successes” often lead to long-term failure. The entire “war on terror” is a huge, bloody cautionary tale that you cannot kill your way out of these problems.
Can a government successfully target and kill specific individuals? Obviously, it can. Does that achieve anything beyond murdering those people? That is much less clear. In the case of Israeli assassinations of Iranian officials and scientists, these tactics backfire all the time. Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, but today it is closer to having one than it was just a few years ago because of Israeli assassination and sabotage attacks. If Iran ever does build a nuclear weapon, it will have to send the Mossad a gift basket for helping to encourage them to go all the way.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.