Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 27, 2006
WAR: Proportionality

To my mind, the fact that Hezbollah has bought some folks' allegiance in southern Lebanon with bread and circuses just means that Israel is right to treat that whole sector of Lebanon as a hostile nation. That doesn't mean that the Israelis would be justified in targeting civilians, if they chose to do so in imitation of their enemies. But the moral calculus of dealing with civilian casualties does, it seems to me, depend at least partly on whether you see your armed forces as warring with a hostile people as opposed to a hostile non-state actor that has attached itself parasitically to an innocent populace of a peaceable state.

Of course, it bears reminding again that all of our legal and moral rules about war need re-examining in light of the rise of enemies who deliberately structure their operations around the moral and legal limitations we place on our use of force.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | War 2006 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Fair enough, Crank. While I'm not willing to go quite as far down that road as you are, I can certainly see your point.

While I am sympathetic to the cahllenges faced by Israel in battling a force woven through a civilian populace, I am not as willing to cast those civilians aside as easily.

Israel is reacting disproportionally, and in my view it is costing them immensely in public relations, and doing nothing to advance a long-term strategy. In fact, I think it's counter-productive in the sense that they are sowing much more anger than they are destroying rocket launch sites.

Posted by: Mr Furious at July 27, 2006 10:30 AM

I was explaining this to my 13-yr-old son. Israel can't sit and do nothing, but slaughtering Lebanon's population is going too far. But nobody has come up with any other solutions!! So, if you have two bad choices, you choose the one that is least bad. Now if Lebanon had taken care of Hezbollah in the first place...

I am waiting for the French to explain to Israel how they should be reacting.

Posted by: John Hitchens at July 27, 2006 4:20 PM

John, as in all things, when you want to know what someone will say, see what they did in the past.

Back in about 920, when the Gauls (now the French) got tired of losing to the invading Vikings (the North or Norsemen), they figured they would give them some prime land, figuring the battles they kept losign would stop. It sort of worked. They gave them some prime coastal areas. Called it after themselves: Normandy. Then in 1066, those Norsemen grew restive, crossed the channel, and started fighting with those other blond guys there. Almost lost too. Must have been in Gaul/France too long. Anyway, William and his Vikes went to war, and (this is the honest truth), the "real" Frenchmen started writing the first cookbook known in Europe (could I make this up?).

So in response John, my guess is the French would say the Israelis should write a falafel cookbook.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at July 27, 2006 5:07 PM

How would the French react if a terrorist group based in Italy fired hundreds of bombs into Cannes and Antibes and ambushed and kidnapped its soldiers? Even the French would invoke the maxim that terrorists and those who harbor terrorists are equal.

Posted by: Fair Play at July 28, 2006 3:34 AM

New to this site. Saw the reference in SI. Could not believe the post re: Lebanon/Israel. At first I was deeply disturbed then remembered , this is the same person who thinks Abreau is HOF material. Maybe we can start a fund drive for professional help. IPTMFN

Posted by: D. Werner at July 31, 2006 11:53 PM
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