NATO has stepped up airstrikes on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli in recent days, bombing an underground bunker and, early Monday, an office building and reception hall. Gadhafi's spokesman called the attacks "an attempt to assassinate the leader and unifying figure of this country," and some Western officials don't think that's such a bad thing. British Foreign Secretary William Hague left the door open to targeting Gadhafi with the U.S. Predator drones now flying over Libya, and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) have all endorsed killing Gadhafi. Is that even legal? And if so, is it a good idea?
Let's kill Gadhafi if we must: "Gadhafi has joined the list of deranged dictators whose acceptability is at an end," says Christopher Hitchens at Slate. The pathetic rebel army can't oust him, but the special forces of any NATO nation can, and must. "If he can't be arrested, he can certainly be killed," both legally and morally. If we don't target Gadhafi, innocent civilians will almost certainly continue to die in this bloody war, so "to refuse to soil our hands with this homicidal lunatic is an odd way of keeping them clean."
"Go after Gadhafi"
Assassination is a messy and dangerous business: "In a situation like this, it is obviously tempting to think you can solve the problem by removing the bad guy at the top," says Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy. But that's a dangerous and slippery slope. Innocent bystanders would almost certainly be killed, too, and more importantly, it sends our enemies the signal that killing U.S. leaders is "a perfectly legitimate way of doing business."
"Taking Gadhafi out (and not for dinner)"
The best scenario is scaring him from power: The introduction of deadly U.S. Predator drones should make killing Gadhafi pretty easy, regardless of its wisdom, says Peter Goodspeed in Canada's National Post. But this war doesn't have to end with Gadhafi's death. The drones' "biggest benefit may be merely psychological — impressing upon Col. Gadhafi that he should consider retiring, since he can now be hunted 24 hours a day."
"NATO drones bring the war to Gadhafi's doorstep"