The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
11 Points

Targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 13,136 times Debate No: 21123
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)




The first round is for acceptance and rule clarification only:
I am the Pro and will be arguing that TK is a morally permissible foreign policy tool,
This debate shall be in Lincoln Douglass (LD) format,
Second round is for arguments,
Third round is for rebuttals,
Fourth round is for voting issues only.

I look forward to having this debate and any clarification questions after second round my be asked in the comments area if wanted.

Good luck to whoever accepts and I once again look forward to a great debate.


Great debate topic. I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


the appearance of the right may often lead us to the wrong"
It is because the fact that most often the best looking object isn't the best overall option, and because behind the lesser appealing object is more logical options while the more appealing object is a cover for despair. this is to say that just because people might not like the sound of targeted killing at first it proves to be more logical then allowing many more to die.

Resolved: Targeted killing is a morally permissible foreign policy tool.

Targeted Killing- the premeditated, preemptive, and deliberate killing of an individual or individuals, known to represent a clear and present threat to the safety and security of a state through affiliations with terrorist groups, or individuals
Morally- concerned with or derived from the code of behavior that is considered right or acceptable
Foreign policy- The diplomatic policy of a nation in its interactions with other nations

the highest value in today's debate is that of utilitarianism or the greatest good for the greatest number of people, because of the fact that targeted killing takes out the few individuals who could hurt the global community on a mass level.

i uphold this with the value criterion of ethical motives, or the motivation based on the ideas of right and wrong

Contention 1) The morality of targeted killing is clear when compared with alternative options.

First, invading a civilian area inevitably leads to the deaths and injury of far more people,
mostly innocent people, than careful use of targeted killing. Second, such actions bring death, misery, and destruction to people who are only minimally involved (if at all) in, or responsible for, terror or military attacks, whereas with targeted killing, collateral damage is significantly reduced (though not prevented altogether). Hence, targeted killing is the preferable method not only because, on a utilitarian calculation, it saves lives—a very weighty moral consideration—but also because it is more commensurate with a fundamental condition of justified self-defense, namely, that those killed are responsible for the threat posed.

Contention 2) The argument that only courts can properly administer retribution is flawed because most terrorist cannot be tried.

sub point A) Courts are a good thing but or illogical when discussing foreign killing

No doubt there are powerful social and moral reasons or making the courts the only body that administers retribution in society, but these reasons bear no relevance on the justification of retribution per se, which, in principle, can be achieved outside the courtroom too. In the case of terrorists, the problem that arises is that retribution through the legal system is not an option with regard to most of them, because the countries that harbor them hardly ever bring them to trial within their territories, nor do they extradite them to be tried in a foreign domestic or international court. Since in such cases, retribution through the legal system is unfeasible, and if we take seriously the idea that evildoers deserve punishment, the inevitable conclusion is that retribution can, or must,14 be imposed by some other entity, such as the army of the injured country.

sub point B) The role of the courts is limited as there is less need for the establishment of fact

Second, the role of courts in establishing the facts of the matter and the blameworthiness of the alleged criminal seems less significant in the context of terrorists because many of them are only too happy to admit their participation in the relevant crimes or their active membership and roles in the relevant organizations.

Contention 3) Targeted killing is allowed by international law and therefore is shown to be morally and legally permissible

As for international human rights laws, the possibility of using deadly force against individuals who are threatening the security of the state has not been rejected altogether even by international human rights bodies. The Human Rights
Committee, in its response to the Israeli report on the practice of targeted killings, notes only that "before resorting to the use of deadly force, all measures to arrest a person suspected of being in the process of committing acts of terror must be exhausted."It adds that such operations must never be carried out for purposes of retribution or revenge, thus implying that they may be legitimate if intended at preemptive.

This is to say international law allows targeted killing which means it is already ok with a high majority of the global community and therefore is morally permissible

Daniel Statman (2004) "Targeted Killing," Theoretical inquires in law: Vol, 5: No, 1, Article 7
Gabriella Blum and Philip Heymann, "Law & Policy of targeted killing," Harvard National Security journal. June 27 2010


Targeted killing is another word for assassination.

It does more to galvanize the enemy than it does to actually accomplish military objectives.

It places discretion as to who lives into the hands of the State without judicial oversight.

It violates the national soverignity of other nations.

It doesn't always work. Consider the case of Khalid Mash'al.

Terrorism will not defeat terrorism.

Thank you. I continue this debate under protest as Pro copy and pasted every single good part of his argument from his "sources".
Debate Round No. 2


... so i am under the impression that you guys or mad because of my coping and pasting may materials. the fact is that considering i gave credit where credit is do it is not theft of intellectual property. i don't understand... instead of valid evidence that can be shown you would rather me make stuff up? If this is so then i would rather not be on DDO. Its a debating site and if we don't use valid evidence then we will not improve any of our debating skills.. my Quote is a quote by Horace... my definitions come from the following places; "Thomas B. Hunter, "targeted killing: self-Defense, Preemption, and the war on terrorism, operational studies, April 29, 2005", "American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language", "Compact Oxford English Dictionary"... my contention 1 comes from Daniel Statman (2004) "Targeted Killing," Theoretical inquires in law: Vol, 5: No, 1, Article 7... contention 2 comes from Daniel Statman (2004) "Targeted Killing," Theoretical inquires in law: Vol, 5: No, 1, Article 7... contention 3 comes from Gabriella Blum and Philip Heymann, "Law & Policy of targeted killing," Harvard National Security journal. June 27 2010... summary of contention three comes from my intro comes from me value and value criterion are chosen by me... a good argument isn't made by random things that pop into your head its made of credible sources and staying accurate to those sources... if you believe that i really did a bad thing then fine give your votes to him but considering that he could have easily gone in and found credible sources himself and formed a reasonable argument, but instead decided to ignore all my arguments and protest the debate is just... well its just silly... anyways I will leave it to you to decide if getting credible sources and staying true to them as to not twist the contention is really a bad thing especially when I credited the people who i got it from... once again i say... a good argument isn't made up of useless thoughts that pop into your head but rather accurate sources assembled in a logical way


The highest value in today's debate is intent. It is solely the moral intent of an action that determines its rightness or wrongness, and the intent of a targeted killing is to take life without due process, which is against American Law, international law, and the Geneva Conventions, specifically article 4.

Targeted killings are illegal, without exception, and in direct violation of international humanitarian law.

Targeted killing is a word used to frame the debate in a pro-assassination way. Some other terms that are functionally equivalent to "targeted killing":

"Summary Execution"
"Pre-meditated Murder"
"Extrajudicial Killing"Pro sacrifices his own morals by espousing utilitarianism and targeted killings at the same time. When Shahade, a Palestinian terrorist, was killed by an Israeli one ton bomb in a densely populated neighborhood of Gaza City, fifteen people were killed, including his wife and 9 children. Fifty others required medical attention. By Pro's own admission, this was an immoral act.First, invading a civilian area inevitably leads to the deaths and injury of far more people, mostly innocent people, than careful use of targeted killing.Not true at all. The capture of Osama Bin Laden proves that we can invade, and capture a military target (the compound) without the deaths of multiple civilians. He wasn't killed because he was Osama Bin Laden, he was killed because he resisted arrest. American forces were able and willing to capture him.

What is the authority to decide who is the target of assassination? If a Private is being shot at, he makes animmediate determination based on the right of self defense.

If a blogger creates a web site with instructions on how to make a bomb in Arabic, is that author a valid target of targeted killing?

Our study shows that the 288 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 5 in 2012, from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 1,741 and 2,712 individuals, of whom around 1,448 to 2,241 were described as militants in reliable press accounts. Thus, the true non-militant fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 17 percent. In 2010, it was more like five percent.*
Pasted from <;

I challenge Pro to reasonably demonstrate that in all 2,241 cases, the targeted killing was

2.Proportional to the crime
3. The Actual Target and not someone else by accident (distinction)
4. Limited to the individual
5. A valid military target

As I seriously doubt Pro can, let's assume that he cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt, all points in all 2,712 cases. That is the reason why we should not let any Government carry out a policy of targeted killings, because there is record of proof.

Take away the famous cases like Osama Bin Laden and Al Aliki or whatever that dudes name is. What about the other 2,000 people where there hasn't even been a media trial? We know Osama was evil, what about the other 2,000 people the US Government has killed in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other countries? What do we know about them? Nothing.

If we give this "process" legal sanction, we are basically giving a Government the authority to kill anyone without trial as long as it is not on U.S. Soil. Is our morality based on Geography?

Let's discuss the burden of proof. For which crimes should a targeted killing be applicable? Murder? Accessory to murder? Incitement?

Exactly what burden is necessary to authorize lethal force? Is reasonable doubt enough to stop a mission? Probable cause? Clear and convincing? Beyond Reasonable Doubt? Beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Without answers to these questions, a Government is just committing murder, claiming it is in the defense of the Nation, but not required to prove it. Without clear evidence and transparency in every case, which Governments have not offered to date, we can safely say, targeted killing is not morally permissible as a foreign policy tool.
Debate Round No. 3


Basicaly the Con wants to bring this down to 3 issues:
1) That Tageted Killing Kills Inicents
2) Terrorist can be captured rather then Targeted for killing, or "assasinated" in the Cons words
3) That not 100% of Targeted killings were
2.Proportional to the crime
3. The Actual Target and not someone else by accident (distinction)
4. Limited to the individual
5. A valid military target

So lets discuss these along with his Value.

First off his Value of Intent, when appling Intent as a value it leads to an amount of................

okay sorry... im too tiered to right a good case and a lot of stuff has been going on lately... just give the my opponite the win... sorry again... bye


Hope everything is okay and I look forward to a better debate next time. Vote con.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Money 6 years ago
love cons vc
Posted by trippledubs 6 years ago
Sweet. I look forward to your next round.

I also messed up on some of my arguments. When I wrote "there is record of proof" i meant "no record of proof". I also quoted your earlier words and it did not get separated so it looks like I am debating myself near the top
Posted by C-L-Fox 6 years ago
ok i see your point that maybe i didn't give credit as thoroughly as i could have and i do apologize for that... ill continue the debate and i thank you for not reporting me over this, well this easily resolved issues... i will try to be more thorough in the future... i look forward to thoroughly reading your argument and (in my own words) argue them effectively.
Posted by trippledubs 6 years ago
You're basically saying there is no middle ground between copy and pasting whole sections of copyrighted works and "just using stuff in your own head". Not the case. Also, the difference is that when you debate online, whatever you post is there forever, not like an oral debate. The harm to the copyright holder is greater when it is online.

I seriously doubt you would not be accused of plagiarism if you went up there and read your argument ver batim as you posted it.

Taken from

"Dishonesty (fabricating, plagiarizing, misusing research sources, etc.) should be reported to officials immediately after the debate."
"We should not teach our students that knowledge is best gained through intuition and plagiarized ideas from unacknowledged publications."

"It is very important - no matter how tempting it may be - to not plagiarize or copy and paste from the Internet or any source. "

I'm not really in a debate group so I don't know for sure, but I do know technology, and you can't repost copy written works.

You should definitely not quit DDO over this and I think we should continue the debate
Posted by C-L-Fox 6 years ago
if you really think getting logical arguments and citing my sources are bad, and that trying to stay true to the contention as to not switch its meaning then fine just but anything down and will just end the debate with one letter arguments and you can have the win or you can go ahead and report me... i don't care either way anymore... now if you want to formulate a real argument using other creditable sources then that's fine to, and i will actually debate you... but saying that we should just use stuff already in my head and not research the topic then i wouldn't be getting any actual knowledge from DDO and it wouldn't help me in my actual debating... all my sources by the way are from a packet my debate coach gave me that was put together by the NFL (national forensic league) and by NFL rules if i wrote and presented a case just like i did here i would not be accused of plagiarism... just saying...
Posted by trippledubs 6 years ago
Thank you for responding innomen. I was curious as to what would happen if I reported C-L-Fox's using the red flags since it is obviously copyright infringement. I assume one would win the debate if their opponent got banned for infringing on the intellectual property of others?
Posted by innomen 6 years ago
I see the point about plagiarism, but this should be a conduct point, and he or she should lose on that merit, not by some admin function, because honestly I am unsure how to resolve it with the tools I have.
Posted by C-L-Fox 6 years ago
you can address them if you think they are important issues in the debate but you cant start any new arguments on them. Thank you for asking
Posted by trippledubs 6 years ago
Pro am I allowed to address your argument in the second round?
Posted by C-L-Fox 6 years ago
I as well am a novice... you could debate me on this topic if you like :) its up to you though.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Xerge 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession
Vote Placed by Zaradi 6 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: FF