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Semiformalishmaybe

Amnesty and Qaddafi

Amnesty International notes that the end of Qaddafi marks an end to a terribly repressive regime, but has called for an independent inquiry as to whether he was killed in combat or after capture. I ordinarily find myself prone to agree with AI on issues, but I dislike the call for an inquiry; it is not a simple call for information; rather it's a suggestion that if he was killed after capture that it was a war crime.

National leaders, particularly autocratic ones, implicitly accept that if the regime is to be securely toppled, their head will be on a pike. Executing a captive bureaucrat whose only stains are routine work in an immoral regime would be unacceptable. Summary execution without trial of a national leader as part of overthrowing a regime is prudent and part of virtu. For the sake of history, it would be nice to document Qaddafi's end, but in my eyes it is no crime nor even a bad thing to have summarily executed him during this time of national transition. Adding the circus of a public trial would not have made it any more valid; a true dictator *is* the law, and a competing law/social order can't find such a dictator guilty under the operational rules of the old regime. During periods where there are multiple credible claims to a nation and one of them is dictatorial, it is reasonable (but not mandatory) to summarily execute the dictator under basic rules of power politics and to eliminate rival claims to the foundations of a state.

This is not an argument that directly touches on who is right in a revolutionary context, just how exceptional situations in jurisprudence may be handled. To again touch on the Romanovs and the revolutionary forces in Russia, I would accept either side doing what they needed to do and summarily executing whatever leadership of the other was capturable during that time. By killing the Romanovs, the system of Tsardom was brought to a definitive end in Russia. If, by contrast, the Tsarist government had captured enough red army leadership, they might've put a definitive end to the revolution (at least for a time). I argue that there is implicit acceptance of risk of life inherent at certain levels of political leadership, particularly for dictators, and in the case of monarchies this is one of the rare circumstances where innocent members of a guilty family may be killed to end a dynasty.

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