Michael Wolraich's picture

    Good Assassinations and Bad Assassinations

    Iran's government condemned the suicide bombing that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria yesterday.

    "The Islamic republic, the biggest victim of terrorism, believes terrorism endangers the lives of innocents," stated Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast.

    But Israel's leaders blame Iran for the attack. They say that the bomber was a Hezbollah agent acting at Iran's behest.

    "The attack yesterday in Bulgaria was carried out by Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran," charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Perhaps. Iran does sponsor Hezbollah, and prominent Iranian clerics have called for retaliation against Israel for its suspected assassinations of several Iranian nuclear scientists. Israel also claims that Iran was behind two recent failed attempts to assassinate Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia.

    But the the victims on a bus in Bulgaria were tourists, not diplomats. They were not killed because they worked for or represented the Israeli government or military. They were not killed because they were involved in hostilities between Israel and Iran. They were not killed by mistake. They were killed because they were Jewish citizens of Israel.

    Whether or not Iran was involved in the attack, its leaders either do not or pretend not to understand the difference.

    Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's Parliament, drew a parallel to the bomb that killed these tourists to the bomb that killed Syria's defense and security ministers.

    "By not condemning the assassination in Syria," he argued, "the Americans show that they believe in good assassinations and bad assassinations."

    He may be right that America's leaders believe in "good assassinations and bad assassinations," but that is irrelevant. The bomb in Bulgaria was not an assassination.

    It was a massacre.

    Michael Wolraich is the author of Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies about the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas, and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual



    I've been guilty of this in the past, and this might be having just finished reading "Hitch-22" talking, but it really seems absurd to see the Iranian government claiming moral equivalence with the U.S.

    Yes, we do believe in good and bad assassinations.  But our government is ultimately accountable to its people over such issues.  Accountable enough?  Are the people informed enough?  You know I don't think the answer is yes to either.  But Iran's mullahs and dictators can shut up about it.

    Not everyone can afford a missile-equipped drone. If we're going to be supporting targeted assassination of nuclear scientists or trumping up nonsensical terrorist plots in India or acting as the de facto government of Yemen in announcing drone strikes, we're going to be building up the urge for asymmetric warfare. Israel has been urging war with Iran for quite a few years now with the US supporting the talk- is continuous sabre rattling over a decade not a form of terrorism, especially backed by the major arms supplier and regime changer in the region? Our drone strikes create massacres too. Our intervention in Iraq resulteed in 9 years of civilian casualties in civil war and retribution killings. While maybe Iran doesnt get the difference, maybe we're drawing too many distinctions as well. Israeli behavior in the west bank and gaza is overwhelmingly focused on civilian retribution-from checkpoints to embargos. Maybe it's time to recognize we're all too clever for our own good and just encouraging more and more violence

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