43-کتاب صوتی Understanding assassination دوره پیشرفته
Keri Phillips: Hello, welcome to Rear Vision. I’m Keri Phillips. Today, understanding assassination.
Journalist [archival]: The Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated while campaigning in Rawalpindi.
Journalist [archival]: President Kennedy shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas.
Journalist [archival]: Lucky escape for President Gerald Ford, the second attempt on his life this month, again in California, again the would-be assassin was a woman.
Journalist [archival]: Dr Martin Luther King, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights movement has been shot to death in Memphis Tennessee.
Journalist [archival]: Street violence has been reported from various parts of India in the wake of the assassination yesterday of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Keri Phillips: Assassination has a very long history yet each one is as singular as the life taken. So what can we learn from the study of assassination? Shortly, we’ll hear from three people who’ve looked at the subject from different angles—a historian, a forensic psychologist, and an economist. But first, the assassination that gave rise to this Rear Vision, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a onetime Saudi insider turned outspoken critic, had been living and working as a journalist in Washington DC. On the second of October last year he went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never came out. Martin Chulov is the Guardian’s Middle East reporter.
Martin Chulov: He’d been there three days earlier and been told to come back on the Tuesday. He did so, bringing papers with him that he needed to sign in order to facilitate a divorce and get married to a fiancée who was standing with him outside at the gate about 10 metres away from the main door into the consulate. So he had been given assurances by senior Saudi officials and decided to take the risk. He stepped forward, walked into the consulate entrance. And as soon as he got inside he was grabbed by Saudi officials who would have flown in from Riyadh that day. At least four of them were members of the security detail of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.
He was marched upstairs to the consul general office. He was injected with a substance, he was put in a headlock. After that he was strangled and moved into another room, and dismembered by the head of forensic science for the general intelligence directorate of Saudi Arabia. And then we believe that part of his body was put down a drain, and the rest of it was removed by car to the nearby Consul General’s residence where it was immersed in acid and tipped down a well in the back garden.
Keri Phillips: We’ll come back later and look at the consequences of this grisly murder. But first, let’s hear from the historian Michael Newton. His books on the subject cover hundreds of assassinations.
Michael Newton: I guess one thing which is distressing to the historian of assassinations is the history is never finished. It goes back a long way, and in writing about it there was the option to go back to Brutus and Julius Caesar, right up till now. And as I was writing the book, the longer I spent writing it, the more assassinations there were. So I decided to limit it by beginning with Abraham Lincoln who was an American president shot in a theatre by an actor, and ending with Ronald Reagan who was a president who had been an actor, shot by somebody whose motive was that they were trying to impress an actress, Jodi Foster. Nonetheless, within that period it’s very varied, and there are a lot of different kinds of stories.
One thing I think that they found in exploring the history of assassination, particularly with regards to America, was there was a kind of trajectory in the sense that the assassinations got more and more senseless. If you look back to the 19th century assassinations they were often motivated by a kind of idealism. Even Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and obviously he was performing a wicked deed, but by his own lights he was in the right. It was the last act of a war. I think there was no doubt that he saw it in that way. When you get to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, the meaning of the event is really absent, it’s just about fame. You kill somebody famous because they are famous, in order to retain fame. Hence Chapman shooting John Lennon or Squeaky Fromme pulling a gun on Gerald Ford in the mid 1970s. And that seemed to me to be something strongly discernible in how things are developed over those 120 years in America. Obviously outside America it’s rather different. People continue to be motivated by political ideas, however misguided.
Keri Phillips: Are most assassinations carried out by single individuals or by organised groups? Newton says this question illustrates the formative role conspiracy theories play in shaping our ideas about assassination.
Michael Newton: There’s a great film from the mid ’70s called The Parallax View starring Warren Beatty. The supposition, the basis, the idea of the film is that the government is behind all the assassinations and they are finding people who look like they are going to be solitary killers, lone gunmen, they mould them, create a kind of backstory for them and then use them, to quote Lee Harvey Oswald, as the patsy for the murder. They perform the killing, they take the blame for it, take the fall for it, but actually there are groups behind it.
Certainly from Lee Harvey Oswald onwards there’s a kind of clash in American life. Oswald is a great example of this. The image of the solitary killer has a long and inglorious cultural past in American life, going back to Natty Bumppo and James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, right through John Wayne, the western, the gangster, Alan Ladd as a kind of film noir hero. There is a strong interest in America with the solitary, with somebody who doesn’t fit in, an outsider figure, and an outsider figure who is murderous.
So when Oswald came along, that fitted people’s sense of what such a kind of killer ought to be. At the same time of course with Oswald there comes in the sense that Oswald is not a solitary killer, he’s part of a conspiracy, perhaps the underwriting part of it, and that dual sense in America is something which has permeated assassination. It was almost a kind of inevitable consequence. Whenever there was an assassination in America through the ’60s, ’70s, into the early ’80s, an assassination attempt, instantly people looked for the conspiracy behind it. People are very suspicious of the solitary gunmen story, although on another level it remained highly resonant in American culture. There is both a will to believe it and a strong will to disbelieve it, and it’s in that contradiction or paradox that a lot of the recent history of these stories bases itself.
Keri Phillips: What can psychology tell us about assassins and assassination? Dr Reid Meloy is a forensic psychologist who has been a consultant to the FBI for almost two decades.
Reid Meloy: What we found in the research that we’ve done which was to look at public figure attackers in the United States from the 1995 to 2015, our study in a sense was a follow-up to a study done by the Secret Service that looked at public figure attackers in the second half of the 20th century, is we found that these individuals generally are spiralling down in their lives. They are not the, in a sense, insidious Machiavellian figures that are portrayed in movies like Day of the Jackal when one looks at a particular assassin on film, but they are typically individuals that are functioning at the margins of society and have decided at some particular point in time that they are going to engage in this pathway to violence, which is typically planned and purposeful, to attack a public figure for a variety of motivations. Generally these individuals have histories of criminality. They also have histories of contact with psychiatric services, a large proportion of them have a major mental disorder. They tend to virtually always be males, and they tend to also target public male figures.
Keri Phillips: Dr Meloy’s research also revealed a shift in motivation.
Reid Meloy: Motivation is a very interesting question in these cases. Motivations vary, but when we compared our work in studying the last 20 years with the Secret Service work we found a striking difference in that a large proportion of the cases that were studied in the second half of the 20th century, the motivation focused on achievement of fame or notoriety, about a third of the cases were motivated by a desire to gain information and to be recognised for the act that they’ve carried out. So it’s what we call a very pathologically narcissistic motivation.
What we found in our recent study however in the past 20 years that the motivation has changed, it has become more personal and more grievance filled, and typically individuals are motivated to attack public figures because of the distress and anger they feel about certain decisions that the public figure has made, certain behaviours the public figure has engaged in, and they take the impact of these decisions very personally. So it’s a retaliatory grievance-filled act of violence where they feel they are completely justified in what they do.
So what we describe as narcissism has shifted from a seeking of infamy to a sense of entitlement that I have a right to attack this public figure as a way to, in a sense, seek retaliation or revenge for having been done wrong.
Keri Phillips: Although assassination targets are often politicians, Dr Meloy says the same underlying personal dynamic motivates the assassin no matter who the target.
Reid Meloy: In our most recent study, we found that in descending order of frequency, the most likely targets were politicians, athletes and judges. But about a third of the targets were politicians, and that has been also a pretty stable finding, even when you look at work that has been done previously by different groups.
But it’s a mistake to think that the motivation is primarily or only political. Typically there is a personal grievance that motivates the case, even though it may be framed with some kind of political statement. Usually these individuals have suffered losses, they’ve, again, from a relational perspective and from an occupational perspective have been largely failures. And they have then focused the blame for their losses and their angers and the humiliations on a particular figure.
However, you do have assassins of celebrity figures and musicians and in some cases religious figures and corporate figures, but oftentimes there is this sense of personal grievance towards that public figure. For example, with celebrity figures oftentimes there’s a sexual or a romantic fantasy surrounding the stalker of that public figure. And then that public figure engages in some kind of behaviour, such as marries another person or does something in a movie that is very offensive to the stalker, and he then makes oftentimes a fairly abrupt decision that he’s going to now pursue and attack that particular person.
In the study that we did over these past 20 years in the United States we had 58 different attackers, and I think we had four cases where the motivation was primarily politically motivated or was a terrorist attack on a public figure. So most of these cases do not fall into that particular category and are fuelled by a personal grievance. The grievance typically has four components to it; there is a loss, there’s anger, there’s a feeling of humiliation, and then there’s a blaming of the public figure for the personal failures and sufferings of the individual.
Keri Phillips: I’m Keri Phillips and you’re listening to Rear Vision on Radio National, RN. The subject is assassination and what we can learn from the study of these often political murders.
Journalist [archival]: Entering Kuala Lumpur airport in the grey suit, this CCTV appears to show Kim Jong-nam. He continues into the busy departures hall where an audacious assassination is apparently about to take place.
Journalist [archival]: David Mûrathe has this morning escaped an assassination attempt after seven bullets were fired into his car.
Journalist [archival]: On 6 October 1981, Egyptian President and Anwar Sadat was assassinated by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Keri Phillips: Michael Newton says that assassination attempts often unfold through a series of random unpredictable events. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Gavrilo Princip, a young Serbian nationalist, in 1914 is a prime example. It triggered a series of events which led to World War I.
Michael Newton: The assassination itself was an accident. Six people got together to kill Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo that day. One of them didn’t do it because he couldn’t lift his arm in the crowd because the crowd was so tight around him to throw the bomb. Another one saw the Archduke and his wife and just felt too sorry for them and went home. Another one tried and missed. Princip, the route changed and the car went past him too fast.
Princip then went to a cafe to get a coffee to cheer himself up, having failed, and just by an accident of the driver taking the wrong route, the Archduke’s car parked outside the cafe for a second. And because of that accidental parking, Princip just went over and shot him. It’s one of those imponderables of history where the spark is so absurd almost in relationship to the devastation to the devastation that it sets off that it’s hard to credit that millions and millions of people might have been killed because of events triggered by this student performing this absurd and ridiculous murder in a small Balkan city.
Keri Phillips: While many assassins hope that the death of their victim will somehow change the course of history, reality reflects a more nuanced story.
Michael Newton: I think what’s behind it is a kind of belief that the office is synonymous with the person. When you kill the president, there’s a feeling that you are killing the presidency. That usually happens and of course what naturally happens and rightly happens is that’s not the case; you kill the president and then there’s the vice president. You can’t destroy the democratic institutions by killing a person because the institutions are bigger than the people involved in them. So in that sense, all assassinations are futile.
However, at the same time, and particularly in America with the ’60s assassinations, I think the murder of the Kennedys, the murder of Martin Luther King and of Malcolm X, life went on. The presidency was unharmed, democratic institutions resolve themselves around these events and American life on one level was completely untouched by them. On another level, history would certainly have been otherwise if those people had not been killed. So in that sense assassinations do affect changes.
Keri Phillips: Given that, is it possible to identify effects of assassination? In an unusual research project for an economist to undertake, Ben Olken from MIT investigated the effect of almost 300 assassination attempts on political leaders around the world.
Ben Olken: We were interested in the broader question of what happens when there is an unexpected change in leadership in a country, and how does that affect the future history of the country? How important is the leader per se to the future of the country? And as part of that research program, we realised that assassinations provide one of those kinds of examples, providing you look at them correctly. So what we did in this paper is we tried to find all of the assassination attempts on leaders, either presidents, prime ministers, whoever was the main leader in a country, all around the world, going back 125 years. So our data covers the period from 1875 all the way to 2004.
Keri Phillips: He wanted to compare successful attempts with failed attempts. Given the assassin launched the attack (threw the bomb, fired the gun) what’s the difference between success and failure? Professor Olken says that on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy.
Ben Olken: It’s not a sure thing by any means but on average we find that you are about 13 percentage points more likely to become a democracy following a successful assassination of an autocratic ruler compared to a failed assassination attempt on an autocratic ruler. On the other hand, democracies seem much more stable. A successful assassination attempt of a democratic leader does not lead that country, on average, to fall back and become a dictatorship relative to a failed attempt.
I want to emphasise though that point I made before, this is successes relative to failures. What does that mean? If you think about it, it may be that following a successful assassination attempt, countries are more likely to become democratic. But conversely, if you make a failed assassination attempt against an autocratic leader and you fail, that leader may in turn crack down more, and those countries may become even more repressive or restrictive. You know, it’s not the effect of trying to assassinate per se, it’s the effect of success relative to failure, and that’s important to keep in mind.
Keri Phillips: So, how successful were the would-be assassins in Professor Olken’s study?
Ben Olken: Most assassination attempts in our data do not succeed. On average, of all those serious attempts that we coded in the data, you know, the bomb goes off, the gun is fired, about 24% of them succeed. So most attempts fail.
The one thing we did discover is there’s differences in the success rate depending on the weapon used, so guns are more likely to be successful than bombs, and you might think that there is a trade-off that the assassin is facing which is if you use a gun then you are definitely likely to get caught. It’s very hard to use a gun and them not to figure out who you were. If you plant a bomb you could leave and hope that you weren’t discovered. So it may be that would-be assassins who are willing to take a bit more risk use guns which are more likely to succeed, whereas people who are more cautious potentially use explosive devices which are less likely to succeed but might potentially impose somewhat less risk to the assassin. Obviously both of them are incredibly risky.
Michael Newton: I think the key thing that is clear from the history of assassination is that what’s required is proximity. One reason why I think there’s been a kind of falling off of high-level American assassination attempts since Ronald Reagan and since the chaos of the 1960s and 1970s when there were many such attempts and successful assassinations, the president now is so well protected that it is very hard, certainly for a solitary individual to get anywhere near them.
It’s not accidental that the assassinations that have happened in the last 10 years have been low level events. In Britain in particular, Jo Cox, the British MP who was killed, Gabrielle Giffords in America, the congresswoman who was shot and fortunately survived. Those people are much closer to the public than prime ministers and presidents are. But if you go back to the 19th century, up to the 1960s, it was easy to come close to, in American terms, the president. There’s lots of footage of Bobby Kennedy in the 1968 election campaign at the centre of the malaise of people trying to shake his hand or to touch him. It’s not at all surprising that Sirhan Sirhan could get close to Bobby Kennedy because hundreds of thousands of people got close to him in that time. Now such a thing just doesn’t happen.
Keri Phillips: While political leaders have most commonly been the target of assassination, in the 21st century political dissidents, journalists and others opposed to autocratic leaders have become frequent victims.
Journalist [archival]: There’s been an outcry in Russia after a prominent journalist known for her coverage of the war in Chechnya was shot dead in Moscow. Anna Politkovskaya, a staunch critic of the Russian president was found dead in the lift of her apartment block.
Journalist [archival]: British authorities have linked massive and deliberate doses of radiation to the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy who died yesterday.
Journalist [archival]: Malta is in danger of falling to dirty money, and the one journalist who dared the most to tell their story has been assassinated.
Michael Newton: The two major forms of assassination are those performed by the powerless and those performed by the powerful. When the powerless attack a president or a king or queen or a monarch or whoever, they are trying to assert a little bit of power in a situation where they themselves feel they have none. One way that works is they show the vulnerability of power. They have all the power and the trappings and the authority of the state behind them but on some basic level they are vulnerable. Assassinations from above when they are performed by states, as is the case with Russia and with Saudi Arabia in these recent examples is precisely the opposite. It’s assertion of the state’s power and its reach.
And in particular with the Khashoggi which was a murder which was so blatant and so poorly planned, one could only assume a kind of indifference to anything that could be said about it. That indifference itself is a kind of expression of power. There’s a sort of gangster element to such killings. You’re showing your reach, you’re showing that no one is exempt, no one is safe from you. It’s disturbing of course I think, and these recent killings have led people to feel, particularly in the political climate as it exists now, that rules are breaking down, and as rules break down authority departs, its halo of legitimacy, and in its place is just naked power. Actually of course that history goes back a long way, and states have killed journalists, ex-spies, certainly since the end of the Second World War and indeed before.
It is not a new thing but it is disturbing, and I think the disturbing thing about it is that in that assertion of power they show themselves to be above the law, and in effect they are above the law. And those acts, those deeds of violence, they have their propaganda effect, and it’s the propaganda effect of intimidation and fear.
Journalist [archival]: The United Nations expert investigating the death of Jamal Khashoggi say the journalist was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing by Saudi officials.
Journalist [archival]: In Turkey, Agnès Callamard and her team were given what the UN describes as crucial information into Jamal Khashoggi’s death, including an audio recording. That information, Ms Callamard said, points to a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by Saudi Arabian officials.
Martin Chulov: The effect of making him disappear was to terrorise, to intimidate opponents into silence, to ensure that he is seen as a strong man who has his way, who can do what he wants, and that anybody who opposes him in such a public manner will pay such a price. It must be said he didn’t intend to be caught. He wasn’t aware that the Turkish government intelligence agency had the whole consulate bugged. His intent was for this to just go away, for there to be plausible deniability, for the guy to walk into a building. They had a body double set up, hamfistedly he was wearing his own shoes, not Khashoggi’s shoes when he walked out the back door of the embassy, it didn’t even look like him. But they had a pretext that he’d left. They knew that that was going to be contested but they didn’t care, they just wanted to be able to say that we’ve made this guy disappear and we will never really know what happened to him. Implicit in that was the message that anyone that speaks up against us will meet a similar fate.
Keri Phillips: As the investigations continue, what might be the consequences of the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi?
Martin Chulov: I think they’re quite profound. For starters, the bubble has burst for Prince Mohammed. He had been seen as a reformer, a man who was going to make fundamental changes in Saudi society, to move the country away from its Wahhabist doctrine towards a more moderate interpretation of the face, to introduce civil freedoms, to make more of a contract between citizen and state, which allows entertainment, which allows a social life, which removes this accommodation that has existed throughout the modern kingdom between the house of Saud itself and the clerics who enforce this very hard-line doctrine.
A lot of the things he was trying to do were being acclaimed by the international community. It must be said that he’d never put political freedoms on the table, he had wanted to transition Saudi Arabia away from a hard-line theocratic state into an Arab nationalist police state. All of these things had been acknowledged, but at the same time he had taken a very belligerent posture as a thirtysomething, hard charging heir to the throne, he’d opened a festering diplomatic feud with Qatar, he’d joined a war in Yemen, he had taken on Canada in some silly diplomatic arguments, and then he had kidnapped the president of Lebanon after inviting him to the country. So there are many things that had led even his friends to question his judgement. And after the killing of Khashoggi, those who had stood by him started to walk away from him. So it does mean that aspects of his reform program, particularly the economic reforms, which were quite revolutionary in many ways, they are starting to be challenged, and so too is his fitness to lead the country.