chapter  Chapter 41
Targeted killings
Perpetual war for perpetual peace?
ByRory Finegan
Pages 12

The killing of Osama bin Laden by American Special Forces in May 2011 was heralded as an event of massive symbolic importance. Some argued that the death of bin Laden did not mean the end of the threat from al-Qaeda, but bin Laden's death did, however, reignite the debate over whether the Targeted Killing (TK) of suspected terrorists is an effective strategy to follow. The increasing prevalence of TKs in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency suggests that a tactical evaluation is long overdue. Rapid regime change in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been followed by protracted wars involving heavy military and civilian casualties in which TKs are both a significant and ongoing component. Yet critically he acknowledged that the US was at "a cross-roads" in its fight against militants and that "a perpetual war" involving drone strikes and Special Forces would prove "self-defeating and alter our country in troubling ways".