Lethal targeting

Having the ability to synthesize a vast amount of information into a succinct and logical explanation is a skill that when mastered can help one be successful in graduate school. Within the field of intelligence the literature is vast and robust, so to aid in your understanding of this body of knowledge the assignments in this course require you to write a review of the literature. The purpose of this assignment is to help improve your depth of knowledge the different concepts covered, and to further prepare you to move forward in your scholarship.

For this literature review, you must select to focus on the literature covered during one of the following weeks.

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For example you may focus on clandestine operations, lethal targeting (of leaders, terrorists, etc), ethics and surveillance, ethics and cyber monitoring, ethics, or cyber warfare.

Your literature review must be developed using 12-15 or more scholarly sources, which should include the assigned readings covered during that week. Within each week there are a number of recommended readings that would serve as an excellent starting point to kick start your research (you should keep in mind that not all of these are available within the online library as this recommended list is simply a list of accumulated knowledge, not knowledge housed within the online library). Regardless of your topic of choice you should conduct an article search within the online library within EBSCO and JStor database, and also conduct a book search to help you develop your literature review.

The goal of this literature review is to demonstrate the scope of knowledge that is available on these key topic areas. As such a good literature review is a thoughtful synthesis of important information that pertains to the topic at hand. Literature reviews include a summary and critical assessment of the arguments that exist (including whether or not you agree with them) and are arranged thematically. At the end of your literature review, you should discuss where research should go next. Are you persuaded by the arguments/findings of one author or another? Why? How could the research be improved upon (theoretically, methodologically, relevancy-wise, and etc)? Be sure you present any idea that you might have regarding how you would look at the topic area.

Developing a clear and concise literature review can be challenging. NOTE: Literature reviews can be a bit tricky to write. Check out this video to help you further prepare to write this assignment. This will not be the last time that you are asked to write a literature review in your academic career so its important to master this skill. Also check out the following documents: 1) literature review tip sheet and 2) synthesis matrix. Together these documents will give you everything you need to carry out a successful literature review.

How many sources should I review?

This is a common question asked by students. Essentially the key to an excellent research paper is the research that helps back up its arguments. While this might be an unsatisfactory answer for those in need of a clear “magic number” a few additional observations can be made. Students writing a course paper 15-20 pages in length should expect to cite 15-30 peer-reviewed sources within their papers, though in order to get to this point they should expect to read 25-50 peer-reviewed sources. For this assignment your literature review should reference 12-15 or more scholarly sources.

Format: This assignment should be 8-10 pages in length not including title and reference page. Your paper should have 1-inch borders on all four sides, use times new roman-12 point font, be double spaced, and not have an extra space in between paragraphs. (You may need to turn this off in MS word by going to paragraph and selecting “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style). Since this is an INTL course you need to use the Turabian parenthetical citation style with a references page.

The literature review must be submitted as a Word Document Attachment in the Assignments section of the classroom by Sunday, 11:55pm EST.

As you proof read your assignment I encourage you to work with Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. “Editing Your Sentences” In Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Sage. This resource has a nice step by step process for enhancing your writing.

To help understand my point of view the following is a forum I have responded to.

Hello Class.

Lethal killing is commonly referred to as assassination, which is carried out by governments against their enemy targets. Because of lethal killings increased popularity, the question has been raised if this lethal targeting and killing is humane or justified.

Lethal targeting or lethal killing became widely used due to the events of 9/11 and the war on terrorism. The primary benefit of lethal targeting is having the ability to attack under the veil of surprise, and also destroying targets (primarily terrorist), without having to have human to human physical contact. Just like a regular killing, lethal targeting can be justified if all of the requirements are met. “We argue that armed intervention1 is morally permissible when (1) the target state is illegitimate and (2) the risk to human rights is not disproportionate to the rights violations that one can reasonably expect to avert. Moreover, once one accepts that such intervention is sometimes permissible, it becomes untenable to hold that political assassination is impermissible in principle.” (Altman, Andrew and Christopher Wellman. 2008) In short, lethal killing is justifiable, and can also serve as a safety measure for troops. In the United States military, these premeditated lethal killings are almost always carried out by RPA’s or UAV’s. The utilization of RPA’s or UAV’s has grown increasingly popular and will continue to remain a staple in warfighting. PRA’s are weaponized and able to employ, this gives war fighters the ability to target while also decreasing troop exposure. Along with their targeting ability, RPA’s also provide surveillance and can assist in overwatch and extractions.

The disconnect of not having troops on the ground to carry out objectives, can lead people to believe that lethal killing is too reliant on artificial intelligence, and cannot be relied on. The truth is that lethal killing prevents unnecessary loss of life by creating a physical barrier, and also delivers single targeting. This is imperative since now instead of full invasion or movement of plethora of material, a subject can be targeted without a ground invasion. Lethal killings become unjustified when it is carried out on inappropriate targets, or does not follow the in-place protocols. Just like anything else, too much or too little of something can prove to be detrimental.


Altman, Andrew and Christopher Wellman. 2008. “From Humanitarian Intervention to Assassination: Human Rights and Political Violence.” Ethics 118 (January): 228-257.

Ward, Thomas. 2001. The Ethics of Destruction: Norms and Force in International Relations. NY: Cornell University Press.

lethal targeting has a lot to do with RPAs

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