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  • Writer's pictureNate Rudquist

Book Review 1- "Surprise, Kill, Vanish" by Annie Jacobsen



I just finished an interesting book. This is first review only because I just finished it, and it has to go back to the library! But here goes! It's an investigative piece into the history of "the third option", or the "hidden hand" for the President to use when diplomacy and war don't make sense. This is assassination, or "targeted killing", or any other number of euphemisms to make is sound more palatable. The book is well researched, and chronicles many instances through our history, from WWII through Bin Laden. Anyone interested in history and the workings of our government may find this book interesting! It is relatively clean, with some language and discussion of violence. It's filled with accounts, both on the record, and anonymously, from operators on the ground. As is always interesting to me as well, there are several photographs of historical events and people included.


To me, the book raised a lot of thoughts. I have to speak carefully, as I couldn't find a definitive ruling by the Church on assassinations. The best I could come up with was that all actions must adhere to the "Just War Doctrine" defined by the Church. This doctrine is 1. The damage being done by the aggressor must be definite, lasting, and grave. 2. All other options other than war must have been tried, without success. 3. There must be a serious prospect for success. 4. The use of weapons/tactics must not bring worse evil than what the aggressor is doing. So there is that disclaimer. From MY understanding, and from a secular standpoint, here are some of my musings.


It's no secret that it's the average man, and usually just kids, who fight and die in wars. A politician, most times without any personal understanding of what war and death is, makes a decision to send other people to do the killing and dying. Our military stands ready to defend our Nation, but who defends them from being used? Us. Our votes put the people in power who make these decisions. So any time we are at war that you disagree with, stop and consider your own culpability in allowing the war in the first place. Second, while assassination has been frowned on by nations since I believe the Geneva Convention (don't quote me on that), would it really be so bad if, after war has been declared (this must be done in CONGRESS in our country), that the leaders themselves actually had some skin in the game? Would a president so willingly commit the lives of hundreds of thousands to a war in which HE also was fair game? Obviously to fit in with the Just War Doctrine there would be times where this wouldn't work, but when leaders can make war with impunity or nothing but political damage to themselves, that's not much to keep them from going.


Anyways, just some musings and thoughts I had. Again, I couldn't find a definitive teaching on it, but will continue researching. Thank you for reading, and I hope you found this helpful!

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