Ethics Observations On The Death Of The Isis Leader

President Biden announced yesterday that the leader of ISIS, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, had died during an assault in Syria carried out by about two dozen American commandos. Later we learned that women and children were among at least 13 people killed during the raid in Atmeh, a town close to the border with Turkey in rebel-held Idlib Province. This morning, we learned that the trapped terrorist had blown himself up, and others, including women and children, with him.

Well, that’s what people like Hashimi al-Qurayshi are good at.

Ethics Observations:

1. Regarding the Isis leader’s death: Good!

2. Note the overwhelmingly positive coverage by the media, which is desperate to find some way to reverse President Biden’s free-fall. Now contrast it with the Trump administration’s treatment after the military killed Iran’s terror-master Qassim Soleimani with an Iraq airstrike. The Washington Post, for example, among others, tried to minimize both the importance of killing the murderer of an estimated 600 people and disguise the nature of his role with Iran. “Breaking news: Airstrike at Baghdad airport kills Iran’s most revered military leader, Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi state television reports,” the Post headline read. In truth, eliminating Soleimani was far more significant than killing the Isis leader of the moment, whom few had ever heard of. ISIS leaders may differ in “effectiveness” and leadership skills, but they are essentially fungible. Killing one may inconvenience ISIS, but the over-all result is mostly symbolic. Killing Soleimani was, in contrast, a major victory, but it led into 2020, when all the mattered to the Axis of Unethical Conduct (“the resistance”/ Democrats/ the news media) was getting Donald Trump out of office. Thus the strike was downplayed, criticized, and even used to attack the President.

Remember this CNN tweet?

Or such reactions as those by…

George Washington University lecturer Barbara Slavin, who tweeted, wrongly, “By what legal authority can US forces kill the head of Iran’s Quds Force? Does @realDonaldTrump realize the import of this?”

…#MeToo icon Rose McGowan, whose jaw-dropping tweet was

…Joe Biden, who said, hypocritically, “There is no question that Qasem Soleimani was an enemy of the United States. I feel no sadness at the news of his death. But I have serious concerns about this President’s execution of a potential act of war without authorization of Congress.”

Biden was VP when Barack Obama made similarly unauthorized strikes, and since Soleimani was in Iraq, where the government had asked the U.S. to be, and plotting to kill our troops, the strike was legal.

….Black Lives Matter hero Colin Kaepernick, who, predictably, tweeted,

…and “Squad” member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who said, “We are outraged the President would assassinate a foreign official, possibly setting off another war without Congressional authorization and has zero plan to deal with the consequences.”

All are apparently happy with Joe’s hit, though.

3. In one of its reports on the ISIS mission, the Times reported,

In brief remarks at the White House, President Biden said the decision to send about two dozen helicopter-borne commandos to capture or kill the leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, was made to minimize the risk of civilian harm. Military officials said attacking with a bomb or a missile would have been safer for the troops but could have endangered more than a dozen civilians in the house, including several children.

I know the following ethics position, which I’ve stated before causing some readers to flip out, quit, and begin vendettas against me, upsets a lot of people, but I stand by it. If we are going to fight wars and quasi-wars, we cannot make avoiding civilian casualties a higher priority than winning, or sacrifice American troops so enemy citizens won’t be harmed. This kinder, gentler combat rule, which gradually seeped into the brains of our leaders after World War II, is a major reason the U.S. can’t win wars, and why the wars we attempt last longer and cost more than they should. War is mostly a no-ethics zone, where “the ends justify the means” becomes the norm, not reciprocity and not absolutism, which would ban all wars. Living under a rogue, murderous, oppressive regime is miserable, but it should also be seen by those in that position as dangerous. Such nations threaten the rest of the world, and it is the duty of citizens who obey such governments to take the initiative to overthrow them, whatever the risk, and whatever the costs. They should also be forced to accept the fact that if their country is the enemy of the U.S., so are they.

Maybe that will motivate them to fix their own problem, and not make Americans die because of it.

4 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On The Death Of The Isis Leader

  1. On #3, you’re absolutely right. If the decision has been made to wage war, then the war should be fought with all resources to a successful conclusion. While the evils produced from engaging the war should not be greater than the evil being confronted, the collateral damage of local civilians is acceptable as long as they are not actually targets. If you’re not willing to actually fight the war to the best of your ability, you shouldn’t fight the war, period.

    On #2, the hypocrisy is undeniable, disgusting, and utterly unsurprising. The best description I can think of right now for our political situation is if my guy does it, it is ethical; if their guy does it, it is unethical. It doesn’t matter what action we’re talking about. It could be just breathing. It doesn’t matter that my guy cheated on his wife, he’s got an “R” next to his name! or It doesn’t matter if he took bribe money, he’s go a “D” next to his name!

  2. Regarding #3 – I think we have two excellent examples of all out war resulting in peace, and one counter example of not fighting all out resulting in a never ending war.
    Germany and Japan were utterly destroyed in world war II. It featured not just disregard, but outright destruction of any form of manufacturing capability, civilian deaths be dammed. Civilians were considered part of the war effort. Germany fell before the bomb could have been used, any only Japan suffered that indignity. Hiroshima and Nagasaki both were of questionable military value, and further, Truman’s ultimatum basically indicated the plan was to destroy Japan until their will to fight was gone. And what do we have today? Japan has totally embraced democracy and freedom. Germany has had a pretty good run, but their recent willingness to sacrifice Ukraine is troubling. They’re willing to sell out the freedom of others to keep their farce of “green energy” going.
    The counter example is Israel. Ever worried about public opinion, Israel counters with “measured” response. The result is 70 years now of never having peace.

  3. This is most likely moral luck, but the Trump airstrike on Soleimani only resulted in military casualties, if I remember correctly. The Biden special forces strike on al-Qurayshi resulted in several civilian casualties, though none caused by our troops. That’s not to say that one method was better than the other. It does make Biden’s statement seem too harsh, and it would contrast poorly with Soleimani’s killing, if anyone remembered that event.

  4. #3 I agree. A swift, and if necessary, brutal, crushing defeat of an enemy is preferable to a drawn-out struggle that is likely to result in greater suffering and total casualties anyways. Yet another example of how attempting to be “kind” results in more misery.

    Of course, this assumes that the mission calls for the complete annihilation of an enemy force. If I was dictator for life, I would only commit forces to this type of mission (no “democracy building” missions, for example).

    As an aside, I was reading about the tactics used during the expansion of the Mongol Empire, and came across this under “Environmental impact” in the Wikipedia page “Destruction under the Mongol Empire”:

    “According to a study by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Energy, the annihilation of so many human beings and cities under Genghis Khan may have scrubbed as much as 700 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere by allowing forests to regrow on previously populated and cultivated land.”

    Who knew? Genghis Khan, the world’s most successful environmentalist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.