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Some Reflections on International Law and Assassination Under the Schmitt Formula, 17 Yale Journal of Int'l Law 687 (1992)


Political murder has, alas, never gone out of vogue. Is its condemnation, too, in retreat? From Iraq's invasion ofKuwait to the present, more than a few commentators and government officials have observed that several hundred thousand lives might have been spared if Saddam Hussein had been "removed." Numerous reports have indicated that during the Gulf War Saddam was a target-authorized at the highest levels-of Allied air strikes. Although General Dugan was dismissed for broadcasting this objective, it appeared that i'affaire Dugan was a case of dispatching the hapless messenger rather than the message. The substance of Dugan's remarks drew scant protest in the United Nations, in Congress or in the media. Nor was Saddam's case unique. When the Reagan Administration mounted air strikes against Tripoli, it was difficult to escape the impression that Colonel Qaddafi was a critical target. When United States forces in Panama failed to lend substantial support to an abortive coup against General Noriega, much criticism followed-of American nonfeasance! All this, despite the fact that U.S. law prohibits assassination of foreign leaders.

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