International Relations Essay

1. As a ‘graduate student’ researching your favorite subject in a Middle Eastern country. On your journey to a remote area, you come across a small village surrounded by local paramilitary forces. They have lined up all the villagers, accusing them of being terrorists, and are getting ready to shoot all of them. You are outraged by this injustice and intervene. The paramilitaries listen to your concern, take your argument into account, and make you an alternative proposal: you shoot one of the villagers yourself, and we will let the rest go.

The paramilitaries know that most of the villagers are innocent, but they are also convinced that the terrorists they are after are among them. They are allied with the US, and are promising to forgo collective punishment for the village if you kill at least one of them. If you refuse to kill, they will proceed with their plan and shoot them all.
– What do you think?
– Will you kill a potentially innocent villager or let the paramilitaries execute all of them?
– What is the most expedient decision?
– What is the right decision?

2. If you had a chance to rewrite history and change the future, would you do it? The setting is Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is summer of 1957, you have been transported back to that time, and now you are standing in a room with an infant. You are contemplating to kill the baby boy, who is 4-5 months old. You are contemplating whether to kill him. If you decide to do it, you will be immediately transported back to the 21st century and will be beyond the reach of the Saudi police.

The infant is Osama bin Laden. He was born in a wealthy bin Laden family. He is a normal, cute baby. His parents love him, and the extended family thinks he is adorable. Unlike anyone in 1957; however, you know what the future holds. Baby Osama will grow up to be world’s most infamous international terrorist, who will initiate a series of attacks on the United States and its allies killings thousands of innocent people.

You know that he will die on May 2, 2011 – he will be killed in a shoot-out with a United States Special Forces unit in his home compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But by that time it will be too late: tens of thousands of people will have died in attacks on American cities, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. Should you kill the baby now?

This is a macabre proposition, but the point here is that sometimes the laudable ends justify distressing means. Such moral dilemmas are frequent in foreign policy decision-making, especially in times of war.
– What do you think?
– Should you rewrite the script of history by taking a pillow and smothering baby Osama?
– What is the most expedient decision?
– What is the right decision?

Last Updated on February 10, 2019