The Effectiveness of State Terrorism

By “state terrorism” I mean the use of political assassination and undeclared war by the state. In the case of political assassination, such as the May 2 assassination of an unarmed bin Laden, is it even effective? For if it’s not, it’s immoral.

Clausewitz defined war as the destruction of the enemy’s will to resist. In the case of the mediaeval host, the feudal principle meant that if the leader fell, his men would flee for their feudal obligation ended with the life of the leader before the coronation of his heir.

But this changed at the battle of Lutzen during the Thirty Years War. When the kind of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus Vasa, was slain, his new-model Swedish host fought with MORE vigor.

This is because armies of the Reformation were animated by a combination of cash and belief, not feudalism.

We can never know if a political assassination will be effective. Israel’s use of the tactic appears to have permanently postponed peace in the Middle East. But if it isn’t, it’s simple murder.

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