The Vilnius Murderer?

I recently bought The Hunt for Red October on Audible. It\’s a book I\’ve read before, and listened to before once, but the recording I had previously was horrible. Do not listen to the J. Charles one. It\’s just atrocious. So bad. The accents are mindbogglingly bad and distracting. The Scott Brick one I\’ve got now is far better. Still has some accents, but nothing nearly as revolting and distracting.

(Spoilers ahead.)

Anyway, in both the book and the movie, Marko Ramius begins the offensive by killing the political officer assigned to his boat. It\’s a kind of shocking moment, really. In the movie, Sean Connery does a pretty good job mimicking what is described in the book. He breaks the guy\’s neck brutally. The \”killee\” is an unlikable, self-important, chekist jerk, sure, but does that mean murder is acceptable?

The other thing that\’s weird about this is that it\’s pretty darn out of character for Marko. He\’s presented as kind of a grandfatherly sailorman (though brilliant) elsewhere.

I\’ve thought about this a little and think it really was murder and not justified. Here\’s why:

  1. Marko was not at war. He was a traitor to his own country, yes, but that\’s hardly the same thing. Granted, his country was arguably at war with us, but still, he wasn\’t a citizen of our country.
  2. Even if at war, there are limits as to what is moral in killing others.
  3. His life was not in imminent danger.
  4. The ends don\’t justify the means.

That\’s pretty much it. The only way I can think of justifying his actions is to attribute it to war. But he wasn\’t at war. Well, actually, I just considered the letter… He had fired that off already, which could be interpreted as a declaration of war… But probably not. If the shoe were on the other foot, a US sailor wanted to defect, mailed a letter, then murdered his political officer, would we be similarly OK with it because he was at war? Methinks no.

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