Robertson and Chavez assassination
As you probably know, Pat Roberston called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the semi-democratically elected leader of Venezuala, and he is getting pilloried by both the right and the left on this. Let me first say, that if Chavez were to accidently fall out of window, I would not be horribly broken up about it. He is a fairly bad guy, and I have no sympathy for him. There are lot of good reasons politically for our no assassination policy, not the least being that we don't want other nations trying to assassinate our leaders. Since we are probably only marginally better at assassinations than many other nations, and our significantly better than anyone else at conventional war, keeping conflicts between nations on a conventional, rather than unconventional level is in our best interests. Beyond that, from a utilitarian standpoint, it seems unlikely to me that assassinating Chavez would improve the situation for the people of Venezuela or make that nation more likely to cooperate with the U.S. in the future. Additionally, it would probably not help our relations with any other nation either. Even if the assassination of Chavez could be performed without creating any links to the U.S., killing a leader usually makes that leaders allies stronger, rather than weaker. However, I find that the some of the criticism of Robertson on this seems unwarrented. Many are calling his remarks 'un-Christian.' I don't know that that criticism is appropriate. Certainly it is not clear to me that assassination would be precluded by the Christian faith. Robertson was clearly calling for an assassination as a alternate to a war, and equally clearly he seems to believe that a war on Venezuela would be a 'just war.' If a war against Venezuala would be a 'just war' according to Christian doctrine, which is an arguable point but certainly not entirely unreasonable, then presuming assassination would accomplish what the war was designed to accomplish it seems to be that it would be quite justifiable to call for an assassination of Chavez instead of a war. I think Roberston is very wrong about the utility of assassinating Chavez, in that it would not have the desired effect and would have huge negative consequences. I could be persuaded that a war with Venezuela was just from a moral point of view, although I think it very hard to justify the cost to our nation. In other words, it may well be moral but not in our self interest. Unless both are true a war is unsustainable. Certainly there is also the question of capabilities since much of our military force is tied down in Iraq. So I think Robertson is wrong, but I don't think he is wrong for the reason many claim he is.