The Repercussions of an Assassination Policy

 

Russia is on the cusp of breaking apart, with each region/nation/tribe going its own way. The country’s army has been exposed, and its finest assets dashed on the Ukrainian rocks, leaving a thin veneer of central government authority backed with no real threat of military power. It stands to reason that more independently-minded regions will cut ties with Moscow.

There is really only one thing keeping any would-be secessionist leader from breaking away: Putin’s track record of murdering any who oppose him. His policy of assassinating dissenters of all kinds has been extremely effective, because it is clear to any Russian national (in or out of Russia) that even voicing the wrong opinion can lead to polonium in your coffee or unhealthy deceleration after a brief encounter with unrestrained gravity.

On the one hand, I abhor murdering people for merely exercising their power of speech. But from a strategic and historic perspective, it is intriguing: murdering people really seems to be working for Vlad and his goals.

Sure, there are downsides in the long run for Russia: anyone who can get out, does. This has been broadly true since 1990, with a burst of 2022 acceleration in emigration and flight. The long-term drain on human resources will doom Mother Russia in the end. But is that end 2023, or 2030, or later?

So is assassination a legitimate/productive policy for a government? I have long advocated the US targeting leaders instead of foot soldiers: if we could, for example, take out Iran’s leadership in one strike it would seem to have all kinds of net benefits. I still think this is true — but only for very specific and evil foreign enemies.

Yet I fear an American government that is capable of targeting individuals overseas is also capable of following Putin’s lead and murdering our own citizens. We have plenty of targeting already going on (the IRS, FBI, etc., are all demonstratively capable of political witchhunts). We would not sleep better at night knowing that federal agencies might keep going down this path of illegal targeting of civilians.

What think you?

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 123 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    In time of war, the enemy’s military  leadership should be considered a legitimate target. However, attacks on the political leadership, like attacks on civilian populations, are often counterproductive, because they harden resolve. In a century of bombing civilians campaigns, only the Hiroshima/ Nagasaki bombs actually achieved the aim of convincing the political leadership to surrender. Likewise, assassinations like that of Lincoln only made life worse for his Southern enemies. Assassination creates martyrs, not surrenders.

    Second, I reject the premise that Putin’s assassinations have worked for him. By so effectively quashing dissent, he has ensured that there is no one around him willing to tell him an unhappy truth, much less voice policy disagreement. This almost certainly explains the disaster of the Ukraine invasion. The assassinations aren’t just hurting Russia through brain drain; they have set up a situation that practically guarantees that Putin himself will be killed in a coup when those around him get the opportunity. 

    • #1
  2. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    This seems like wishful thinking and pure fantasy.

    The way that you state outlandish opinions as if they were fact is so strange.  It’s like you’re living in a dreamworld.

    I have little idea about what’s going on inside of Russia.  Neither do you.  Heck, I don’t have a very good idea about public opinion in my hometown.

    What does seem to be the case is that Russia continues its slow advance on the Donbas front, and that the Russians reportedly continue to launch heavy missile and drone attacks, even as they’ve supposedly been on the verge of collapse and of running out of missiles and drones for months.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Taking out a foreign leader invites retaliation-in-kind. If Vladimir were to take a header from the sixth floor* of some building, we might lose a valuable national leader such as . . . umm . . . .

    I’ll get back to you.


    * Triple score for difficulty if there is no balcony.

    • #3
  4. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    This seems like wishful thinking and pure fantasy.

    That parts of Russia want to break away? It is stated fact, much discussed. 

    It is even discussed in Russia:

    In an interview with the magazine Expert in April 2005, the head of the presidential administration, Dmitry Medvedev, said:[1]

    If we fail to consolidate the elite, Russia may disappear as a single state…The consequences will be monstrous. The disintegration of the Union may seem like a matinee in the kindergarten compared to the state collapse in modern Russia.

    In 2011, during a meeting of the government commission for the development of the North Caucasian Federal District in Gudermes, Vladimir Putin said that if the Caucasus were to suddenly leave Russia:[32]

    If this happens, then, at the same moment — not even an hour, but a second — there will be those who want to do the same with other territorial entities of Russia, […] and it will be a tragedy that will affect every citizen of Russia without exception.

    — Vladimir Putin

      

    The way that you state outlandish opinions as if they were fact is so strange. It’s like you’re living in a dreamworld.

    That Putin murders people? Is this not fact?

    That Russia has had its military dashed against the rocks? The numbers of dead and wounded, as well as the hardware destroyed or captured, is astonishing. And thoroughly documented. If you choose to pretend otherwise, then you are living in fantasyland. 

     

    • #4
  5. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):
    Second, I reject the premise that Putin’s assassinations have worked for him. By so effectively quashing dissent, he has ensured that there is no one around him willing to tell him an unhappy truth, much less voice policy disagreement. This almost certainly explains the disaster of the Ukraine invasion. The assassinations aren’t just hurting Russia through brain drain; 

    You are absolutely correct, at least in these points. I think assassinations work to quash dissent and to hold Russia together. I agree entirely that Putin has suffered a loss of information, and I point out that in the long run, this policy is certainly counterproductive even for Putin’s goals.

    they have set up a situation that practically guarantees that Putin himself will be killed in a coup when those around him get the opportunity. 

    I think we cannot know this in advance – in hindsight it will, of course, be obvious. :-)

    • #5
  6. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Here is a list of active separatist movements in Russia, from Wiki (YMMV):

    Ural Federal District

     Sverdlovsk Oblast[73][74][75]

    Volga Federal District

     Idel-Ural at the center of the Volga (Privolzhsky) Federal District Republics of Idel-Ural

     Idel-Ural[76][77]

     Tatarstan[78][79][80]

     Udmurtia[81]

     Bashkortostan[78]

     Chuvashia[82]

     Komi-Permyak Okrug[83]

    Northwestern Federal District

     Arkhangelsk Oblast

     Komi Republic[88]

     Republic of Karelia[89]

      •  
    • #6
  7. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Continued

     Kaliningrad Oblast[89]

     Leningrad Oblast[92][93][94]

     Astrakhan Oblast[95][96]

     Republic of Kalmykia[97][98][99]

     Krasnodar Krai[100][101]

     Rostov oblast[102][103]

     Republic of Crimea

    Main article: Political status of Crimea

    North Caucasian Federal District

    Main articles: Insurgency in the North Caucasus and Caucasus Emirate

     Abazinia[105][106][107]

     Chechnya

      Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus

     Circassia

     Dagestan[112][113]

     Ingushetia[114][115][116]

     Lezgistan

     North Ossetia-Alania[116][117]

    Karachay and Flag of Kabardino-Balkaria.svg Balkaria

    Main article: Balkar and Karachay nationalism

    • #7
  8. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator
    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker
    @AmySchley

    iWe (View Comment):

    they have set up a situation that practically guarantees that Putin himself will be killed in a coup when those around him get the opportunity. 

    I think we cannot know this in advance – in hindsight it will, of course, be obvious. :-)

    We certainly can’t know Putin’s fate in advance, but we can look to historical precedents for guidance. Those pretty clearly show that leaders who rule by fear don’t get to live through the decline of old age. They mostly get assassinated the moment they show any weakness, and the ones that don’t get killed die suddenly and unexpectedly while still relatively young.

    (On that note, has Putin gotten his Covid shots?)

    • #8
  9. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    iWe: There is really only one thing keeping any would-be secessionist leader from breaking away: Putin’s track record of murdering any who oppose him. His policy of assassinating dissenters of all kinds has been extremely effective, because it is clear to any Russian national (in or out of Russia) that even voicing the wrong opinion can lead to polonium in your coffee or unhealthy deceleration after a brief encounter with unrestrained gravity.

    The assassination policy was an interesting part of the alternate history series, Axis of Time. A carrier group from 2021 gets sent back to just before the Battle of Midway. Some of the ships on the edge of the time event get flung much further from Midway so the Soviets get access to one of the ships and the history books contained in it. Stalin sets about, in 1942, purging people who would become trouble for him much later.

    • #9
  10. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I have little idea about what’s going on inside of Russia.  Neither do you.  Heck, I don’t have a very good idea about public opinion in my hometown.

    I assume that the leadership model is like that of organized crime.   I only know about mafia operations from movies, but I pretend it helps me with Kremlinology. 

    • #10
  11. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    What total and complete dribble. 

    • #11
  12. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    iWe:

    So is assassination a legitimate/productive policy for a government? I have long advocated the US targeting leaders instead of foot soldiers: if we could, for example, take out Iran’s leadership in one strike it would seem to have all kinds of net benefits. I still think this is true – but only for very specific and evil foreign enemies.

    This was part of the logic behind our ill-conceived wars of “nation building”.  The deaths of leaders like Saddam Hussein, or Muammar Gaddafi have not been of much benefit to their respective countries.  The truth is that a nation’s leadership is seldom the result of chance.  Instead, it is a natural product of the people and culture.  This is the case even in what we would consider to be oppressive tyrannies.

    America needs to abandon its saviour complex in regards to foreign policy.  This is a delusion that came to infect us during the Cold War and it is long overdue that we put it to rest.

    • #12
  13. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Hang On (View Comment):

    What total and complete dribble.

    I think you mean “drivel.” 

    • #13
  14. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):
    The deaths of leaders like Saddam Hussein, or Muammar Gaddafi have not been of much benefit to their respective countries. 

    It certainly has helped the world, though! When Saddam stopped underwriting suicide bombers in Israel, suicide bombing stopped. Iraq is not the threat they were before – that is for sure. And kurds are freer than ever. Measured by freedom, getting rid of Saddam was a win.

    Libya is worse. Ghaddafi was a bad guy, and his death was good for the world. But Libya itself has been an enormous disaster. 

    The truth is that a nation’s leadership is seldom the result of chance.  Instead, it is a natural product of the people and culture.  This is the case even in what we would consider to be oppressive tyrannies.

    This is largely true, but not inevitable. Leaders can, on occasion, actually lead. The invasion of Ukraine was not an obvious, foregone conclusion; another leader may have decided a different course of action. Some leaders grow freedom. Most grow tyranny, as a matter of course.

     

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):
    (On that note, has Putin gotten his Covid shots?)

    I don’t know, but he has gone to extreme lengths.

    • #15
  16. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Percival (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):
    (On that note, has Putin gotten his Covid shots?)

    I don’t know, but he has gone to extreme lengths.

    One might suggest he likes to keep his distance.

    • #16
  17. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    This would be a policy that would make the US more unstable. The deep state would become even more of a Praetorian guard than it currently is, deciding who can and who cannot be elected to office. The CIA already has no qualms about coups and color revolutions, including carrying them out inside the US. Greenlighting of political assassination would only open things up to further assassinations as they did with the Kennedys. 

    As for Russia specifically, this is just WEF and neocon wet dream stuff, totally divorced from reality. That Putin has stood up to these monsters is all to Putin’s credit whatever else may be said about him. 

    • #17
  18. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    This seems like wishful thinking and pure fantasy.

    That parts of Russia want to break away? It is stated fact, much discussed.

    It is even discussed in Russia:

    In an interview with the magazine Expert in April 2005, the head of the presidential administration, Dmitry Medvedev, said:[1]

    If we fail to consolidate the elite, Russia may disappear as a single state…The consequences will be monstrous. The disintegration of the Union may seem like a matinee in the kindergarten compared to the state collapse in modern Russia.

    In 2011, during a meeting of the government commission for the development of the North Caucasian Federal District in Gudermes, Vladimir Putin said that if the Caucasus were to suddenly leave Russia:[32]

    If this happens, then, at the same moment — not even an hour, but a second — there will be those who want to do the same with other territorial entities of Russia, […] and it will be a tragedy that will affect every citizen of Russia without exception.

    — Vladimir Putin

     

    The way that you state outlandish opinions as if they were fact is so strange. It’s like you’re living in a dreamworld.

    That Putin murders people? Is this not fact?

    That Russia has had its military dashed against the rocks? The numbers of dead and wounded, as well as the hardware destroyed or captured, is astonishing. And thoroughly documented. If you choose to pretend otherwise, then you are living in fantasyland.

     

    This is quite unconvincing.  I’ve seen no evidence of any significant separatist movement in Russia.  Sure, you can find some people talking about it, as you can find people in the US talking or writing about a break-up of our country.

    Your claims are so vague.  Who has supposedly been assassinated by Putin.  I do remember one guy supposedly poisoned.

    Your claims about the war are also vague and unsubstantiated.  I have no idea about Russian losses, of either men or material, and I haven’t seen any good sources about this.  There seems to be a lot of propaganda on both sides.  

    Your source lists about 8,700 vehicles destroyed, damaged, abandoned, or captured.  Is that supposed to be a big deal?  Russia’s a nation of about 140-150 million people, right.  That’s not too many vehicles, a small fraction of Soviet losses in WWII.  It seems about comparable with the Battle of Kursk, which was a big battle, but just one of many.

    Your source, by the way, is just some online list.  Maybe it’s true, maybe not.  I have no way to tell.  But even if it is true, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.

    The tank losses claimed are about 1,600, out of about 12,000.  That’s not a very big deal after almost a year of war.

    • #18
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    iWe (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):
    (On that note, has Putin gotten his Covid shots?)

    I don’t know, but he has gone to extreme lengths.

    One might suggest he likes to keep his distance.

    This looks like another picture that I saw before, with a camera lined up facing Putin.  It looks like his advisors are at a distance so that they don’t end up in the picture.

    It seems very juvenile to use this picture to suggest that Putin never listens to his military advisors.  I’ve read reports at Critical Threats — which seems like a hotbed of pro-Ukrainian propaganda — but even there, it details a number of changes in the military command, which is normal when a leader is listening to, and paying attention to, his advisors.

    • #19
  20. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    One more thing.  Your statement that:

    iWe: There is really only one thing keeping any would-be secessionist leader from breaking away: Putin’s track record of murdering any who oppose him. His policy of assassinating dissenters of all kinds has been extremely effective, because it is clear to any Russian national (in or out of Russia) that even voicing the wrong opinion can lead to polonium in your coffee or unhealthy deceleration after a brief encounter with unrestrained gravity.

    is just incorrect.

    What about the forcible suppression of the rebellion in Chechnya?  That was more like war, not assassination.  What about the seizure of parts of Georgia and bombardment of Grozny?  That was forcible, and related to disputed territory, and would create fear on the part of any other potentially break-away regions.

    So Russia and Putin have something of a history of forcibly suppressing rebellion.

    As did a fellow named Abraham Lincoln, by the way.  Suppressing rebellion is one of the duties of a government.  If you do it with sufficient vigor, it tends to discourage future rebellions.

    • #20
  21. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Jerry, you live in your own universe. Putin’s history of assassinating enemies is extremely well established – polonium , oligarchs in early 2022, others, etc. . As you deny that, there is no point in trying to work with you on this. Without some commonly agreed facts, discourse is useless.

    • #21
  22. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry, you live in your own universe. Putin’s history of assassinating enemies is extremely well established – polonium , oligarchs in early 2022, others, etc. . As you deny that, there is no point in trying to work with you on this. Without some commonly agreed facts, discourse is useless.

    So what? American Presidents use drones. Russians use other means. In the end, they are both assassins killing those who oppose their regimes. 

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    This looks like another picture that I saw before, with a camera lined up facing Putin.  It looks like his advisors are at a distance so that they don’t end up in the picture.

    It seems very juvenile to use this picture to suggest that Putin never listens to his military advisors.  I’ve read reports at Critical Threats — which seems like a hotbed of pro-Ukrainian propaganda — but even there, it details a number of changes in the military command, which is normal when a leader is listening to, and paying attention to, his advisors.

    I meant to imply no such thing. Vladimir is maintaining extreme social distancing.

    Besides, there’s not much point in listening to one’s minions when all they ever say is “you’re right, Boss.”

    • #23
  24. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Percival (View Comment):

    Taking out a foreign leader invites retaliation-in-kind. If Vladimir were to take a header from the sixth floor* of some building, we might lose a valuable national leader such as . . . umm . . . .

    I’ll get back to you.


    * Triple score for difficulty if there is no balcony.

    Isn’t the point that it would be Russians doing it, not someone else?

    • #24
  25. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Percival (View Comment):

    Taking out a foreign leader invites retaliation-in-kind. If Vladimir were to take a header from the sixth floor* of some building, we might lose a valuable national leader such as . . . umm . . . .

    I’ll get back to you.


    * Triple score for difficulty if there is no balcony.

    JFK.  

    • #25
  26. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    they have set up a situation that practically guarantees that Putin himself will be killed in a coup when those around him get the opportunity.

    I think we cannot know this in advance – in hindsight it will, of course, be obvious. :-)

    We certainly can’t know Putin’s fate in advance, but we can look to historical precedents for guidance. Those pretty clearly show that leaders who rule by fear don’t get to live through the decline of old age. They mostly get assassinated the moment they show any weakness, and the ones that don’t get killed die suddenly and unexpectedly while still relatively young.

    (On that note, has Putin gotten his Covid shots?)

    Sounds like Putin is going to die of Cancer or other old age disease fairly soon.  I think he is evil enough to die peacefully in his sleep.

    • #26
  27. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    @hangon

    Yes it happens here all the time. With or without drones.

    Murder of those who are inconvenient to one party or the other’s official narrative.

    Seth Rich.

    Anthony Bourdain.

    Chris Cornell.

    Side bar – if you or anyone you know and love have a huge amount of insider dirt on Hillary Clinton, make sure that the individual makes a ton of copies and distributes them prior to the intended release date.

    Or better yet, do not  pull a Bourdain and mention how that in less than 2 weeks, a lot of damaging material will be out in the public domain to inflict major harm on Hillary.

    Also if you want to live a long and happy life, do not invest or start making a film about the world of sex trafficking,  which will detail the names of celebrities, police departments across the USA, and elected officials who are all major players.

    • #27
  28. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    they have set up a situation that practically guarantees that Putin himself will be killed in a coup when those around him get the opportunity.

    I think we cannot know this in advance – in hindsight it will, of course, be obvious. :-)

    We certainly can’t know Putin’s fate in advance, but we can look to historical precedents for guidance. Those pretty clearly show that leaders who rule by fear don’t get to live through the decline of old age. They mostly get assassinated the moment they show any weakness, and the ones that don’t get killed die suddenly and unexpectedly while still relatively young.

    (On that note, has Putin gotten his Covid shots?)

    Sounds like Putin is going to die of Cancer or other old age disease fairly soon. I think he is evil enough to die peacefully in his sleep.

    Not screaming in terror like the passengers civilians in his car country?

    • #28
  29. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    iWe (View Comment):

    Jerry, you live in your own universe. Putin’s history of assassinating enemies is extremely well established – polonium , oligarchs in early 2022, others, etc. . As you deny that, there is no point in trying to work with you on this. Without some commonly agreed facts, discourse is useless.

    Who?  How many?  

    Your link about the oligarchs is pure speculation.  It lists 7 people, if I counted correctly, and does not say that any of them were assassinated by Putin.  It says that the deaths were suspicious.

    So, your claim that this source proves assassination is false.  A lie.  Your source does not support your conclusion.  You may or may not be right.  But you have no idea whatsoever.

    Your link about polonium is about the one guy that I vaguely remembered.  That story, too, does not establish that it was assassination.  Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

    So you have a total of 8 people supposedly assassinated, without proof, over the course of 16 years.  (Most were in 2022 — the polonium guy was in 2006.)

    I have a vision of you as one of the Dothraki girls in Game of Thrones saying, about some strange claim — “It is known!”

     

    • #29
  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Percival (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    This looks like another picture that I saw before, with a camera lined up facing Putin. It looks like his advisors are at a distance so that they don’t end up in the picture.

    It seems very juvenile to use this picture to suggest that Putin never listens to his military advisors. I’ve read reports at Critical Threats — which seems like a hotbed of pro-Ukrainian propaganda — but even there, it details a number of changes in the military command, which is normal when a leader is listening to, and paying attention to, his advisors.

    I meant to imply no such thing. Vladimir is maintaining extreme social distancing.

    Besides, there’s not much point in listening to one’s minions when all they ever say is “you’re right, Boss.”

    What makes you think that they say that?

    The Russians made a strategic withdrawal, in both the north around Kharkov and in the south around Kherson, a few months back.  That’s an indication that they are adjusting their actions to battlefield conditions.

    How could you possibly know what goes on in Putin’s briefings?  I sure don’t know.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.