America's Targeted Killing Policy: Is it Right? Is it Working?   [open pdf - 451KB]

"The U.S. employs the practice of targeted killing as part of a multi-pronged approach to defeat Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Targeted killing has increasingly become the weapon of choice, has caused notable collateral damage and civilian casualties, and has garnered a healthy measure of controversy. Questions swarm regarding the policy's legality, justness, and efficacy. A reasonable examination of international law and contemporary just war theory shows that a measured practice of targeted killing can be morally just and legal. However, eleven years later, the policy's effectiveness at defeating terrorism is less clear. While it has provided short-term tactical and operational gains, it is questionable whether the policy will be strategically effective against terrorism and its roots. The U.S. should continue the practice of targeted killing but in a more limited fashion with greater transparency. The implementation of the recommendations offered will bring moral clarity to the policy and improve chances for long-term success. As a leader of the international order since WWII, the U.S. must continue to lead diligently on how a nation should justly prosecute a war against this emergent threat and how it expects others to as well."

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