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Hit Squads And "Pacifists"

| 30 Comments | 4 TrackBacks
Newsweek broke the 'death squad' story this week, in which they describe a range of possible rules of engagement that involve using proxies or Special Forces-led proxies to covertly attack - i.e. assassinate - the leaders of the B'aathist/Islamist forces.
Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.
Personally, I'm strongly against an organized effort to create assassination squads, and have said so for quite some time.

I assume that we have Special Forces troops and friendly Iraqis mingling where they can to gather intelligence - and also that we ought to have more of them. I'm not at all opposed to 'opportunistic' use of those forces to target and kill or capture enemy leaders.

But to create a whole force specifically to do that and wage a 'shadow war' would be - as I've said in the past - far more damaging than helpful.

It would be damaging largely because by their nature such efforts must be covert, and thus unaccountable. They deal in death on a retail level, and the people who must practice and control such efforts must become used to operating outside even the boundaries of civilized violence and mayhem. So in creating such a force, we'd be creating and subsidizing a group whose explicit mission was to kill outside of any accountable control, who would necessarily associate with people who don't have much regard for the rules of civilization and whose activities would take place deliberately away from any kind of scrutiny.

When I read the article, I assumed that the antiwar folks would leap on it as a way to tie Iraq back to the discredited (justly or unjustly? At some point I need to learn enough history to know...) wars in Central America. I find that deliciously ironic, as many of those same antiwar folks argued two years ago that - as an alternative to invasion - we should just go covertly track and kill the leaders of terrorist groups.

Back in April 2004, Jim Henley said:
For one thing, I would continue to harry the men and organization behind the September 2001 atrocities to the ends of the earth. "Don't Tread on Me" is my policy, and that's what Al Qaeda did. Bite back hard.

...

What if Iraq becomes a weak state complete with Al Qaeda training camps and weapons labs? See scare quotes around "wait" and the part about harrying the people behind the attacks on the US to the ends of the earth, above. If camps set up, we pound hell out of them. It's not like we don't know how to bomb Iraq.

Today, he says:
And speaking of inevitable atrocities, get ready for Iraqi death squads.

All together now: Saddam was worse! In terms of body count in Iraq this is true, though the man had a big head start on us, so we ought to be allowed a couple of decades to catch up. But what about the world ? Is it better? And are we? We have gone from a time in which the tyrant of an oil patch with a broken army and 23 million inhabitants practiced a tyranny which all decent people abhorred, to a time in which the largest and most powerful country in the history of mankind justifies torture and contemplates assassination teams - we should call them terror squads - as official policy. And the people who most consider our virtue unchallengeable are the quickest to publicly avow our need to torture and murder. That is quite a change. Is it hard to see why so much of the world regards it as unwelcome?

Jim, I hate to break it to you - and all the others I've argued with over the last two years - but your policies of covert action and assassination that you though were viable alternatives to invasion?

This is what they look like.

And for you to have advocated them - and Jim is certainly not the only one (I'll add links as I have time to do some searching) who did - and then stand pointing at this ill-advised proposal as evidence of the Administration's moral bankruptcy is a joke. Be consistent, folks, at least.

4 TrackBacks

Tracked: January 11, 2005 4:50 AM
The Left: Still Flip-Flopping from The Horrors of an Easily Distracted Mind
Excerpt: Editorializing before it before editorializing against it! Censhorship in your own home! MAAAAADNEEEESSSS! IT'S MAAAAADNEEEESSSS!
Tracked: January 11, 2005 12:16 PM
Warning from Unqualified Offerings
Excerpt: Warning - I am apparently inconsistent. Armed Liberal of Winds of Change (Motto: Thinking is Hard!) points out that I...
Tracked: January 12, 2005 12:47 PM
Death of the Death Squads? from Unqualified Offerings
Excerpt: Death of the Death Squads? - Very possibly. See here, here and here. If true it will mean both the...
Tracked: March 12, 2006 12:48 AM
Covert Ops from Small Town Veteran
Excerpt: Joe Katzman and Marc “Armed Liberal” Danziger (one of the few liberals I have much use for) are having an interesting debate here and here. Uncle Jimbo Hanson has added his thoughts here and received a reply from A.L. Those

30 Comments

A.L., they're completely consistent. They're consistently against any actual military action by the USA on any matter of self-defence. If you take their suggestions and implement them, they'll shift their criticism to their own previous suggestions... just like the bigot whose sneer is disproven, and then shifts without a blink to the next.

A.L., may I suggest the framing of the question is problematic? Specifically, the whole notion of 'proxies'. Do you think the Iraqi government is sovereign, or not? If so, should it enjoy a monopoly of force in its territory, and ability to delegate same? What can we surmise, based on history, of the ROE (if the notion even applies) of the Iraqi's internal engagement against the Ba'athist holdouts, without our asymmetric firepower and intelligence capabilities, and use of that leverage to defiine the engagement?

Who is the proxy here? Are we 'creating' a force, or potentially mitigating the behavior of one that is inevitable, given the facts on the ground?

In Iraq you see the ongoing civil war, vastly distorted due to the overwhelming US presence. Before the US leaves, it must be sure the anti-Baathists have control inside Iraq and along the borders.

Any Sunnis who support the Baathist murderers and their jihadi companions have joined the war against free Iraq, and have declared themselves combatants. This is not a difficult concept.

Likewise, Sunnis in neighboring countries who support the Sunni murderers within Iraq are similarly declared combatants. Any immunity they imagine for themselves is illusionary.

Blast you, Joe, that is exactly what I was going to point out.

just win, baby!

who cares how we kill the bad guys?
smart bombs, fulkl scale urban assaults, or assassinatin - it's all the same to me.

the tactic should be matched to the goal/target.

assassination of key badguys helped the situation in israel; it will help in iraq, too.

the PROBLEM is: that we don;t seem to have good intel; israel has had good intel. without good intel assassinations cannot work.

that measn we have to attack broader bigger targets - which leads to more collateral damage.
which is worse than assassination.

handwringing naysayers want the impossible: they ant a clean war without collateral damage and yet they're ooposed to assassination - and have always opposed increased in defense spending which has often been for smarter weaponry.

that's why i ignore them.

they're goalpostmovers who also usually bait and switch in debates and end up resting on inane canards - liem slippery slope arguments.

screw them.
and assasiante baguys.
everywhere.
hey: if we assassianted a few badguy generals in the sudan, we could end genocide. that would be a good thing.

i like good things.

Not only am I in favor of death squads, I am planning to volunteer for them. I have spent my whole life training for this. I am, in short, a human killing machine. As a practitioner of Eye-Am Wakoo Nutjahb Karate, and an expert in Spyderco throat-slitting, I cannot wait to get to Iraq. I am also an excellent cook, with five years at Red Lobster.

Tim -

When I talk about 'proxies,' I probably ought to be a bit more careful.

What I'm talking about are groups only nominally under the control of the central Iraqi government or US authority.

A.L.

OK, I'm going to take this opportunity to "poke in the eye" of this whole To Torture or Not To Torture debate:

An un-uniformed "insurgent" is holed up in a minaret, ever so infrequently shooting hundreds of yards down the street at coalition soldiers wending their way through town. Eventually forward spotters glass him, he's targeted, and has his left arm lopped off below the shoulder by some 50mm rounds. An hour, a day later, unattended by friendly torturers and overworked medics, in a foaming-at-the-mouth rabid fever, he perishes. A strong brave, stupid man.

I have no idea how we 'morally separate' the tortuous death of this insurgent (weighing it as acceptible, right and normal) over the rather cosmetic "torture" administered to a few of the Abu Graihb prisoners... in a time of war, in a war the likes of which has never been seen in all of history. We've saved more Iraqis than we've killed or so one statistic calls it. How does that rack up against creative interrogation methods?

My guess is that the sensitive, politically correct, the safely lazy-boy ensconsed and 'two-fingers, thank you' club house pundits are all a bunch of pathetic milq-toasts in the end. We're actually beginning to buy into the Sandmen's Honor Code, where it would be better to have been slowly excoriated on the field of battle than belittled and deprived of a few moments of one's beauty sleep at the hands of the supposedly platinum-shielded American Savior.

Bull.

Operating Rooms at every hospital are off limits to the observing public. Emergency rooms are ensconced bastions of barbary-for-the-good-of-the-patient. The thrusting of one's hand deep in the chest of an unanesthetized cardiac-arrest patient to massage a failed heart ... is disgusting. But "its for the good of the patient", is it not? We're not re-enacting a prehistoric Incan Sun-god ritual! No-sir-ee. We're saving a patient, for his family and friends, and ... causing the poor bastard incalculable suffering and pain on top of everything else. Oh yah, that.

Perhaps General Washington recovering just an eensy bit of the noblesse of the British (and European) formulary for war, decided that it may well have been "acceptible" to shoot the redcoats from behind rocks and barns, dressed in deerskin and other shaggy coats, but it was unacceptable to get a little information from the prisoners-of-war that had been captured.

It was also a war where the enemy "sued for surrender", where the white flag was never, ever violated. It was a war where the infantryman knew not even enough to identify where his home-town was, let alone the vaunted plans of the august and presently missing general thousands of paces behind the lines. It was a conflict where the war was on, then off. The battles won and lost. That kind of pre-modern nobility garnered the pacivism and kindness-to-prisoners that one hoped the "other side" would reciprocate. God almighty, would but that that era return.

But no, today we have found ourselves working against a most stubborn, creative, modern and intermixed enemy. The fighters are as likely to be crazed Sunni's from Syria as they are infiltrators from Iran. They are hardened, morally simplistic, and have been indoctrinated a hundred times: you life is worth nothing, the Americans cannot torture you to death by their own weak "Laws", and therefore, you have nothing to gain from any admission. So they bear it.

Is there no tradeoff then for taking a prisoner and keeping him in relatively "good health"? Does not the white flag need to mean "I surrender", without trickery? Is that slow death of the minaret-forgotten gunner any less ethically and morally repugnant, just by the virtue of him being discovered "silent of the hurt" due to his demise?

I think not. I propose that "creative interrogation" can and should include all forms of stress to eek out the tendrils of the cell-organizations that are undermining the Iraqi people, the intelligence that we can use to turn the tide toward the citizenry and their future, instead of the anti-American sentiment that today pervades the region. Like the Supreme Court of the United States said, "we don't know how to precisely define pornography, but we sure know it when we see it..."

And I know that when defining militarily-useful harsh interrogation techniques. Burning people alive, putting them on the rack, being barbarous sadistic monsters may be frightening (and compelling, alas) to the populus, but I know that there are far more compelling methods that depend on little more than a dripping faucet ... that softens up the moral fabric of the committed recalcitrant, to finally get him/her to squeal. And THAT is the point.

GoatGuy

The situation in Iraq is not that different from Germany after May 1945. We should proceed on the same way we did back then.

Werewolves or terrorists should get a tribunal, and if found guilty summarily shot.

It worked then and it will work again if we apply it.

Use of force is not evil in and of itself, but there is no need to descend to hit squads. What we are doing is right in and of itself, so there is no reason to shun the daylight. The people involved in the terrorist actions should have their crimes documented and justice done upon them.

Hit Squads? No thanks.

Henley suggests we pound the hell out of Iraqi failed-state terrorists because we already know how to bomb Iraq. Last time I checked, we were not Kurds or Shia. And there's a difference between taking out terrorists, terrorist camps and weapons labs and purposefully attacking the ethnic group whose members comprise the enemy. Make no mistake, that is exactly what this policy entails, and going by what I've read, neither Henley nor AL (nor I) support that.

GoatGuy, excellent point, which I've been making on a libertarian site. There are not a whole lot of ways of ending a life in agony, that strictly speaking, are moral. The only moral thing in war is to get the deal done as quickly as possible with minimum loss of life. Therefore on a sliding morality scale, physical pressure of prisoners and assasination, with their ability to target a specific individual, and inflict a measured amount of damage, seems more moral to me than say, dropping a bomb with it's far greater potential for collateral damage.

The good part about hit squads is that they have the capacity to be a great deal more discriminating than invasion and bombardment. It takes a LOT of assassination "oopses" to add up the the kind of body count generated in even a relatively clean war.

As AL points out, the difficult part is keeping the hit squads accountable. The CIA isn't particularly good at this, as their efforts in Central America show. (An additional problem was that the CIA likely had evil motives.) Once things get really out of control, people's families start to get murdered and tortured. This isn't exactly kosher.

Whatever solution the USG attempts to implement in Iraq will likely turn out badly. It's not like the normal USG military is accountable either. Death squads have the minor virtue of killing innocent people at a somewhat slower rate.

Spain has still not recovered from its anti-French insurgency in the Napolianic wars. The ETA is a leftover from that era.

In post WW2 France there was a considerable problem twenty or thirty years after the war was over.

A successful insurgency always makes the restoration of law and order difficult. Because insurgents are generally drawn from the ranks of the local criminals. (letting the criminals out of jail by Saddam was an acknowledgement of that truth)

The Israeli method is better. Covert intel. Overt killing.

If the killing is covert it must be done by US forces. Those can be withdrawn or rotated out.

Actually, covert action using assasination squads, under strict military control, perhaps, is much more moral, in terms of keeping the overall body count down, than using regular forces in the counter insurgency role.

The key is intelligence. Covert squads, which would probably be made up of special forces, snipers, and native Shiites and/or Kurds, would go into the areas where the insurgency nests, and map out who the cell leader are, where the bomb experts are, who the Imans are who preach Jihad, etc.

Once that is done, these people can be captured or killed. Captured and persuaded to talk is of course better, since it is hard to get information out of a corpse. We can, and should, simply threaten to hand the Baathist over to his Kurdish or Shiite victims, that should produce all the cooperation we need. "Of, course, we can't torture you, Abdul. Meet Yosef from the tribe you helped gas. Have fun."

This kind of approach is much more discriminating that leveling buildings with 500lb bombs.

It's long past time to take the fight to the enemy. Regards Keith

Let's be honest here folks, the Shia's are not going to sit around and take this insurgency forever. Frankly, I'm amazed the Shia's haven't started their own hit squads already. Better there is some control than no control, cause it's going to happen. The big benefit of covert hit squads is that it will make the insurgency nervous and suspicious of everyone, thus severely hampering their ability to group and organise. Right now the insurgents are fighting a visible "enemy" which gives them an enormous advantage. Covert hit squads will take away much of that advantage. I think it's worth the risk.

TJ -

I'm positive that in theory that it's true that covert assasination is less damaging than actual warfare; sadly history in actual warfare doesn't bear that theory out.

The problem is that once you create a corpus of trained covert assassins, it's damn hard to discipline and control them and the opportunities to act human and use the skills one has for gain - crime, smuggling, etc. are simply too great to withstand.

I'd be interested in any examples from actual history that you could suggest to support your view.

A.L.

What's most upsetting about the Newsweek story isn't the prospect of Special Forces carrying out assassinations, but this:

...most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they wont turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."

That's not about targeted assassinations, but about terrorizing the general population of Sunnis. That's why Jim, rightly (and consistent with his earlier position), calls them "terror squads," and objects.

Seabury and Codevilla in their (terrific) "War; Ends and Means", review the Phoenix Project. Its primary crime from the point of view of the anti-war folks was that it worked and that it didn't result in the numbers of dead civilians that the left needs for the reproach of US policy.
The same criticisms are leveled at Low Intensity Conflict, for the same reasons.
The anti-war folks NEED piles of dead civilians, as long as they're dead at the hands of the US.

>>I'd be interested in any examples from actual history that you could suggest to support your view.

My favorite assassination has to be that of Reinhard Heydrich. The reprisals were severe, and the assassins perished gloriously fighting the SS. But it was still worth it.

The Mossad, icky as it is, still has a much better ratio of terrorists killed to civilians liquidated. than the IDF in general.

I think ogged is on to something. There's a difference between sending in teams of assassins to take out enemy leadership, and sending in death squads -- really teams of terrorists -- against civilian populations. Maybe you're right, maybe getting the CIA to know the difference is too much to ask.

Actually the concept of training and equipping covert hit squads is neither new nor unprecedented. It was used to great effect during the US and Columbian government's war on Pablo Escobar and Medellin drug cartel.

Several covert groups were established ("Death to Kidnappers", an anti-kidnapping hit squad was one)and targeted on Escobar's support structure as well as the primary players in the cartel. Eventually it flushed out Escobar himself and the cartel collapsed (Read Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo for details).

I expect that something similar is being utilized in the war with Al Quada and the hunt for Bin Laden.

The keys to having and effective program lies in both developing a strong intelligence picture of the organizations you are targeting and in your overall control of the groups involved. Without intelligence you hit the wrong targets and reinforce the environment for guerilla or insurgent activities. Without control, you lay the groundwork for a wider conflict, the loss of moral authority, the room for expansion or "mission creep" and the potential for future stability problems in the country.

Regarding the morality of the situation, it can be argued in both directions ad nausem but when push comes to shove, the cold calculus is likely to be boiled down to "who wins".

The "hit squad" idea is no more than an extension of the Phoenix program from the Vietnam era. The left was livid about that program, so any suggestion from that side of the fence re: hit squads is prima facie evidence of their own lack of both principle and consistency.

More importantly, who would they suggest as members of these hit squads? Maybe they'd like to volunteer? SF people are NOT trained as assassins, regardless of the disdain of the left for anyone in uniform. Some of them were certainly used that way during the Phoenix program, but the results were horrific. I know some of those people - and some of them are still recovering from that experience. There are VERY few people that can operate in "hit squad" mode without quickly destroying their own humanity.

Since the left claims to be the side that "cares about people", how is it that they care so little about those people that they'd use and use up (and I mean that in the absolute worst sense) - and then throw away like a dirty Kleenex?

The term "torture" is a distraction.

The real issue is: What interrogation methods are acceptable? -- When are they acceptable? -- And how do you know the people doing them are following the rules?

The problem is that instead of sensible discussion of this issue we're still getting a lot of moral posturing and political grandstanding.

Here's a scenario that cuts through some of the bullshit.

Let's say there's a backpack nuke that's been hidden somewhere in your city. It's set to go off in three hours.

You've got the guy who knows where it is and how to disarm it strapped to a metal chair in front of you.

What do you do?

What does the "policy" say you should do? Different answers are possible.

But if the policy doesn't recognize your need to accomplish something in such a situation, it's a useless policy written by morons.

Because this scenario is not quite a hypothetical. It's a situation that will quite possibly happen sometime in the next 10-15 years.

And it doesn't have to be a nuke. It could just be 20 people who'd get blown up in a suicide bomb attack in 3 hours -- What does your policy say you should do?

I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that "hit squads" will necessarily "terrorize" Sunni's. Sunni's that materially aid insurgents are legitimate targets. By killing them (and if you're going to kill them you may as well do it in a covert fashion so as to increase the psychological value) you will certainly make other Sunni's think twice about it. In my view, that's what that Newsweek quote is about.

The most recent example of a government using local militia against insurgents is the Sudanese government, which turned loose the Janjaweed in Darfur. The US would not be winning hearts and minds in Iraq if we are perceived as authorizing similar kinds of action in Sunni areas. (John Keegan , A History of Warfare, page 5: "From the unlawful and uncivilised means by which these irregular warriors rewarded themselves.. the officers of the civilised states averted their eyes.")

BTW I'm a "lefty blogger" (not a pacifist) who also thinks assassination is wrong. What do I think the US should do instead? I liked the idea of trying to get the UN to go in there with us but that's not a short-term fix. Our problem is that Rumsfeld sent enough troops to fight a quick war but not enough for what's going on right now--meanwhile, we can't recruit enough new forces to supplement or even replace the ones on the ground. My immediate suggestion would be to send over a lot more armor for our troops and raise their hazard pay, rolling back some of those tax cuts for millionaires to pay for it.

Betsy

Rumsfeld did not send enough troops for the occupation because we do not have enough troops period. The Bush 1/Clinton downsizing has left to few troops to do too many jobs. Much of the Bush Post war planning has turned out to be awful, but you can't conjure up another 150,000 soldiers out of thin air and to create a larger force requires an act of Congress, not a Presidential decree.

Our recruitment and retention (from what I have read) has hit all targets in active forces. I don't know about reserves. The lack of armor is a MSM creation that at this point is a lie. Did they have enough armored Hummers in 2003, no. Not being omniscient they didn't realize they needed them ( I don't think they have armored Hummers in the Balkans) once the recognized the need, they filled it as quickly as possible, replacing older Vests with newer ones etc.

As far as assasins and death squads. That is a murky area. Its easy to say sure kill all the bad guys, but it usually doesn't stop there. But Sunnis lose sympathy because A. they were the bad guys previously and B. They keep doing bad things in the name of "insurgency". They might not like an Iraq w/o a US presence. It will be payback time.

Joe Katzman: They're consistently against any actual military action by the USA on any matter of self-defence.

Joe, that is not at all Henley's position, even within the quotes A.L. provided. Henley was for the war in Afghanistan because it was a matter of self-defense, he was against the one in Iraq because he felt it was not a matter of self-defense. And it turned out he was right about that: there were not even any WMD or WMD programs (regardless of Saddam's hypothetical deterrability from using them).

And it's an uncharacteristically low blow to use the example of an anti-Semitic bigot to illustrate your point, since Jim is nothing of the kind, neither anti-Semitic nor anti-American (the wider point of that post of yours).

About what was said about Afghanistan being "self-defense", some 19 whatever hijackers and most of them were Saudis. This meant Afghanistan attacked us? That's not self-defense, that's taking out a country that harbors terroists, period.

Therefore Henley and everyone else of that position, is just plain wrong that Afghanistan was self-defense but Iraq was not. Since Afghanistan and Iraq are the same thing. The proof for both was intelligence based, and there was not enough time for any recent data to be gathered. For all we know, the terroists might have moved out of Afghanistan by the time we got there. The point is of course, the CIA told us they were there, they were there, CIA told us they were there, they were not there in Iraq.

To think that Afghanistan was just or right or whatever, is simply an easy excuse for not criticizing an action that was right in order to criticize an action that was controversial.

The Taliban contributed nada to the 9/11 attacks. Those who say otherwise, have no proof. Because terroists don't give out proof, and neither do states who sponsor terrorism.

If we had invaded Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq, would people be calling that a self-defense action as well?

Ymarsakar claims that the invasion of Afghanistan was not an act of self defense. I disagree.

To briefly review the history leading up to the invasion, the United States asked Afghanistan to expell bin Laden. The Taliban refused. We then told the Taliban that we would hold them accountable if al Qaeda attacked the United States.

Al Qaeda did attack the United States (the Khobar Towers attack), and we decided not to hold the Taliban accountable, and instead told them that we would hold them accountable for any future attackes.

Al Qaeda attacked the United States again (the 9/11 attacks), and we demanded that Afghanistan shut down al Qaeda. The Taliban refused. And that's when we invaded Afghanistan.

It's no doubt true that the Taliban contributed no material support to the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda was supporting the Taliban, rather than the other way around. But the distinction between al Qaeda and the Taliban is not relevant here. If the Afghan army had invaded the United States, would you argue that we had no cause to attack Afghanistan because our only quarrel was with the Afghan army? That's ridiculous. When you declare was, you declare war on a nation, not on it's army or some other organization within the country.

The point is, you have just as much proof for Saddam and how that is in self-defense, as you have for the Taliban and after 9/11.

In fact, you have more proof for Saddam than you have for the Taliban, as we never signed a peace treaty with Saddam.

The point is also, not that I believe so, but the reasoning of those who would use Afghanistan as the model to discredit Iraq believes so.

" If the Afghan army had invaded the United States, would you argue that we had no cause to attack Afghanistan because our only quarrel was with the Afghan army? That's ridiculous."

Actually, I was speaking of people who believe that invading Afghanistan was justified and invading Iraq was not. Don't call what you don't even fully comprehend, ridiculous. That's jumping to conclusions, and is only half as bad as concocting conclusions to prove a desired point.

The Afghan army is ordered by people in the Taliban, we can say we know this. Prove that the Taliban knew of 9/11, aided Al Qaeda, ordered Al Qaeda, had officials working for Al-Qaeda. We cannot say we knew of this. We only suspect. Iraq, again, has more concrete information than this.

You can get some evidence. But not enough, not nearly enough to call it "self-defense". It is in fact, preemption. Relying, on faith and trust only, that they needed to be taken out. US warned Afghanistan that we would hold them accountable? US warned Saddam we would hold them accountable as well.

Prove the difference, if you want to assert your point that "I personally believe that Afghanistan wasn't a self-defense action".Since I believe both were for self-defense, then you better find some conclusions if you desire to separate one from the other.

Not my personal belief, but rather "it is your personal belief, that my position is that Afghanistan wasn't justified".

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