October 30, 2007
EUGENE VOLOKH: “First, killing an enemy military leader — and apparently a highly competent one — in the middle of a war almost always is the humanitarian decision. It takes little consideration, it seems to me, for our military to properly come to this conclusion. That Yamamoto was ‘highly intelligent’ and that he had lived among us might have emotionally humanized him to people who are considering his fate. But it surely didn’t entitle him to any exemption from military attack. . . . There’s nothing humanitarian about preserving an enemy military leader — and instead focusing only on killing enemy line soldiers — when that means more likely deaths for our soldiers. . . . Indeed, if Yamamoto’s killing were analogous to the death penalty, then the death penalty should be acclaimed as a high moral imperative: Rather than wondering whether the death penalty saves innocent lives, we’d be nearly sure of it.” Read the whole thing.