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View Diary: Israel's Bombing Campaign Should Be Justified On Its Merits (62 comments)

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  •  Disproportionate (1+ / 0-)
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    JNEREBEL

    doesn't mean using more force or causing more harm, death, suffering than the other side. Proportionality is not evaluated in relation to the harm you have suffered. How many Israelis have died is irrelevant to whether its actions are proportional.

    Disproportionate means using more force than is necessary to achieve the military objective.

    So whether Israel's response to Hamas rocket attacks is disproportionate depend on whether the airstrikes are necessary to destroy Hamas's rocket arsenal and deny Hamas the ability to hold Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at risk.

    There's no moral or legal reason to limit defensive military action to the level of the other side. The legal and moral requirement of proportionality just says that you have to use only as much force as is required to achieve your military objective.

    So to claim that Israel's response is disproportionate, you have to argue that Israel could somehow destroy Hamas's rockets by using less force or causing fewer casualties.

    •  that's a pretty privilleged definition (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think gazans would see it that way.

      Either way--my basic point stands--defend their position on the merits--whatever you want to label the strategy as--defend it on the merits.

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
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        JNEREBEL

        You want to argue that disproportionate force is not justified -- and that Israel's actions are disproportionate, and therefore unjustified.

        If you use the actual ("privileged") definition of the term in international law and moral philosophy, then Israel's force is not disproportionate. It may or may not be justified, depending on conformity with other requirements of international humanitarian law. But it's not disproportionate.

        (To clarify and correct the definition in my previous post, how much force counts as disproportionate also depends on the military importance of the objective. Since the objectives of depriving Hamas of the capability to rain down rockets on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and allowing the people of southern Israel to live without the daily threat of rocket attacks are of overriding importance to Israel's security, a lot of force and harm to Gazans are still proportionate. If the objective was less important to Israel's security -- say, killing a low-level and easily replaceable terrorist -- then an attack causing even limited harm to civilians would be disproportionate.)

        If you use the colloquial meaning of disproportionate as just "more than the other side," then Israel's response may be disproportionate, but that has nothing to do with whether its justified.

        An oversimplified hypothetical to illustrate the point: Someone slaps me, then pulls a knife on me, threatens to kill me, and lunges at me. I pull out a gun and shoot him in the leg. I inflicted vastly disproportionate harm (gunshot vs. slap). But that has nothing to do with whether I was justified. That depends on whether shooting him was necessary to prevent him from stabbing me. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But the fact that the only physical harm I suffered was being slapped is completely irrelevant to whether I was justified in using "disproportionate" force. (I don't mean in any way to minimize the deaths of three Israelis or the wounding of dozens more as a mere slap.)

        And your larger ("on the merits") point, as I understand it, rests on your misunderstanding of proportionality.

        You acknowledge, at least for the sake of argument, that Israel has a right to defend itself. But you object to Israel's actions to defend itself on the grounds that they are "disproportionate." So what you seem to want defended "on the merits" is the "disproportionality" of Israel's response.

        And the Israeli answer -- "on the merits" -- is that Israel's actions are not disproportionate because they are necessary to significantly degrade Hamas's rocket arsenal, and that (because Hamas launches these rockets from civilian areas, and embeds its military forces and activities in civilian areas) it's not possible to defend Israel's population without inadvertently harming Palestinian civilians. If you want to argue that Israel's actions are disproportionate, you need to argue otherwise.

        •  You have wasted a lot of ink here (0+ / 0-)

          I am not expressing an opinion on whether Israel's actions are justified.

          I'm just asking that people justify them--with an argument that is not, "what would you do if your country was rocketed" but which actually addresses the moral justification for their bombing campaign.

          I think it would be a useful discussion to have and perhaps help end some of the logic loops that keep the violence going.  

          That's the only point I'm making.

          It seems to be a difficult one to grasp--perhaps I am not being clear enough although to me it seems clear.  

          •  See my last paragraph. n/t (0+ / 0-)
            •  that's fine (0+ / 0-)

              at least it's an argument on the merits...

              as far as it goes--it kind of flies in the face of history--we've seen repeated rounds of this--and sometimes actual invasion by Israel--and Hamas always seems to gain, not lose capabilities.

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                Yes, that's Israel's arguments on the merits.

                As far as flying in the face of history, the Israeli view is that such operations have to be repeated every few years to keep the threat from Hamas manageable. The goal is not to eliminate it; they don't think that's possible militarily. See the "mowing the grass" metaphor in this Times article.

                The operative metaphor is often described as “cutting the grass,” meaning a task that must be performed regularly and has no end. There is no solution to security challenges, officials here say, only delays and deterrence.
                In this view, military operations buy a few years of relative peace, until Hamas rebuilds its arsenal and resumes its attacks.

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