Assassination is, was and remains the refuge of cowards.
The name itself is drawn from an ancient Middle Eastern secret society that struck in darkness for pay to undermine legal authority and provide pretenders means to overthrow legally constituted authority.
"Legally constituted authority", now there is a phrase that conjures up a picture of some wrinkled visage pontificating over his morning prunes.
Can human society exist or is there any hope for progress without law to define authority’s duties, bounds and limits and without authority to carry or execute the dictates of conscience that lead to progress?
In my estimation assuming authority entails assuming obligations, duties and responsibilities.
One may only rightfully assume the privileges attendant and necessary to the discharge of those obligations, duties and responsibilities.
I consider the assumption of authority, and its rightful exercise matters of the highest courage.
No, this courage does not entail the confrontation of frightful foes in moments of extreme physical, danger.
Instead, the courage of assuming responsibility requires the will and the courage to step forward, to make demands on people, to hold them accountable and most importantly to hold oneself accountable and to no overstep the boundaries of one’s authority.
In my opinion, defining courage in terms of physical threat and in the confrontation of armed opponents dehumanizes the concept of courage.
A lion attacking a water buffalo risks life and limb, but is not displaying courage in any meaningful sense.
Similarly, lauding the courage of an assassin because he is willing to undertake the risk of confronting a leader’s guards mistakes evil for good.
A robust and unerring moral sense is indispensable in the exercise of courage.
Another writer bespoke his estimation that the officers who attempted the assassination of Reichsfuerher Adolf Hitler in the Wolfsschanz in 1944 demonstrated courage. I find this assertion highly questionable.
The men who attempted to kill Hitler were trusted Nazi apparatchiks who had endorsed and acted upon the Nazis embrace of violence for their entire adult lives.
These men had helped plan the invasion of the ancient nations of Europe and were responsible for the pointless deaths of countless civilians and the destruction of their property on a continental scale.
The Nazis vandalized or looted much of the artistic, architectural and historical heritage of northern Europe without remorse.
When these dastards undertook the assassination of Hitler it was not out of contrition for past misdeeds or compassion for the future suffering of the subject peoples; it was because Hitler opposed a separate peace with the West.
They wanted to negotiate a peace with the US and UK in order to continue the war in the East, with our assistance if possible.
Hitler opposed this policy and so in their view, required liquidation.
Just as these men had relied on violence to aggrandize themselves and the Nazi Reich, they were employing violence to gain factional advantage in a policy dispute.
Their action lacks any sort of moral grounding, and despite the consequences and risk they knowingly undertook, I reject any contention that theirs was an act of courage.
By invading Iraq, the Bush-Cheney Administration have greatly overstepped the bounds of their authority and usurped power.
They did this using the constitutional and legal channels available to them.
The run up to the invasion entailed an intense public debate carried out in private and in public and a large percentage of the public expressed approval of the plan and a large majority supported the policy in its early stages.
The proclivity of a democracy to be moved by demagoguery was a major fear of the constitutional framers and the rationale behind the checks and balances.
This is why it is so hard to get things done in our system.
But even our system is not infallible and in the aftermath of 9/11 Congress granted the President too much power, which he promptly misused.
Bush, Cheney, and the GOP leadership demonstrated an unthinking fear of the terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11.
Their cowardice in the face of the attack and their utter lack of concern for the destructive effects of their actions on the Iraqis led directly to this debacle.
In my opinion, the supporters of the War have nothing to be proud of.
We cannot undo the mistakes of the past, but our democracy has the remarkable resiliency of changing its mind about the invasion.
Public support for the Administration’s Iraq policy has fallen from the high sixties to the high twenties.
Roughly half the electorate have changed their mind on the war and want to see it ended.
This is progress and this is getting results. The President and the bitter enders in the GOP congressional caucus may well have the political juice to keep the war going, especially if the anti-war camp split into factions.
If we lose sight of the goal of removing our troops from combat and setting the conditions for withdrawal, the President can prevail.
If we stay focused on pressuring the Dems to oppose the war and work with them to bring 60 Republican Representatives and 12 Republican Senators into the anti-war coalition we can end combat operations before the snow falls.
This will require focus on the goal and the willingness to craft a legislative proposal for withdrawal that is acceptable to Republican moderates.
This is speaking truth to power, this is asserting the primacy of morality and integrity in security policy, and this is political and moral courage.