: The nature of last night's missile and smart bomb attack to kill Saddam Hussein testifies to the nature of the regime. Formerly, as during WWII, " decapitation " attacks were specifically avoided because removing a country's high leadership would eliminate the only legitimate authority that could negotiate a surrender or a peace agreement. The war machine, in other words, might not be able to be " turned off " and the enemy nation, it was presumed, would continue fighting blindly. This was why the Allies targeted neither Hitler nor Emperor Hirohito during WWII despite the strategic and symbolic value in killing those two Axis leaders. Today, the assumption is that absent the horrific terror Saddam wields, few Iraqis would be willing to fight and die for him.
Regimes like Iraq are inherently illegitimate regardless of the conventions of international law that treat them as lawful and sovereign states. These states are rogues both externally and internally staying in power by criminal methods of mass terror that indicates they lack even the minimal consent of the governed or representation of national interests of past totalitarian dictatorships. Part of the upcoming revision of international law will be a gradual change to dempnstrate greater democratic accountability if states wish to claim sovereign legitimacy and have it be respected.