People are disconcertingly accepting of torture as a means of getting information from people we detain, and it seems to me that assassinations are even more popular than torture. You just don’t see many people protesting the United States blowing up suspected terrorists in countries like Yemen with missiles fired from Predator drones. It’s sad, because there are many principled objections to be made to the use of assassination as a tactic for fighting terror. A recent study makes it clear that there are practical objections as well — a 2009 study suggests that assassinations are counterproductive:
killing leaders of a religious terrorist group seems to increase the group’s chances of survival from 67 percent to 83 percent.
This week’s New Yorker also has an interesting article about the latest social science on the subject of terrorism. The article is chock full of interesting opinions on terrorists, the causes of terrorism, and the most effective approaches to combatting terrorism.