Bombing Vindicated is the title of a 1944 book by J.M. Spaight, an official in the U.K. Air Ministry during World War II. An anti-Semitic Web site actually offers the book online, which is the only reason why I'm linking to it.
Spaight's argument is quite simply that the saturation bombing of German cities by Allied bombers was perfectly justified. To say that this position has been disputed would be a marvel of understatement.
I believe the carpet bombing of Germany by the Allies was a war crime. However, I recently suggested in a diary that Israel respond to rocket fire from Gaza (or Lebanon, for that matter) with an exactly proportional response, i.e., the same number of rockets, with the same amount of explosive, fired right back in the direction the rockets came from, and — I guess this was the rub — without regard for where the missiles fell.
We'll do this diary in the form of an FAQ.
Madness! Won't Israel be labeled a terrorist state?
Yeah, too late on that one. For better or worse, no matter how justified Israel may be in the action that it takes, the slightest violence that it perpetrates, even if solely in self-defense, is "terrorism" to some people. These people will never learn.
Won't innocent people would be killed?
Too late on that one also, on both sides of the border. However, as one reader pointed out, fewer innocent people would be killed on the Palestinian side if what I suggest were implemented. After all, apologists for Hamas all through the war this past winter constantly talked about how "Qassams don't kill anybody" or "They don't kill very many people" or what have you, while we heard how F-14s were being used to take out members of Hamas and "commit genocide" against the Palestinian people.
We can gauge whether or not Qassams actually kill people by seeing whether anyone in Gaza is killed when they get launched into Gaza rather than out of Gaza.
Can we reasonably suppose that the U.S. would continue to support Israel if Israel took up such a military strategy?
Why not? As noted, it would take fewer lives. Furthermore, Israel has undertaken larger-scale operations with poor accuracy, famously hitting the Lebanese village of Qana in 1996. Israel didn't lose U.S. support over that.
Also, consider that the U.S. is currently undertaking a less than accurate policy of bombing right now in the Afghanistan war, using unmanned drones that are sometimes dropping payloads on Pakistan and not Afghanistan. Not exactly a whole lotta room for criticizing others when your own country does the same.
So you're really serious?
I honestly don't see why not. Look at it this way: Let Israel take one week where it does everything that it's supposed to do under a truce agreement. Let's assume that the siege and/or blockade of Gaza is totally lifted, with everything that this entails (water and humanitarian aid arriving, etc.). And now let's assume (because it's a fair assumption, given whom we're talking about) that Hamas will launch Qassams at Israel.
Let Hamas launch them and let Israel not respond for one week. Then let Israel respond rocket for rocket. Nobody will be able to argue after a week of unanswered bombing that Israel has not exercised restraint. Further, no one will be able to argue that the response was disproportionate when the response, when it comes, is identical.
Come on: really?
OK, I'll cave and put one twist into my argument here, if people are genuinely still concerned about Israel "keeping the moral high ground." Let Israel aim rockets of equal weight and destructive power to Qassams before firing them back at Hamas. That would be one leg up on Hamas.
Doesn't this violate principles of just war?
Depends. Questions of jus ad bellum, i.e., is it right to go to war, are academic once the war itself begins. Jus in bello, however, translated roughly as "just conduct during war" asks three things: (1) Distinction, i.e., distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants. If Israel aims its missiles, then it meets this criterion, while Hamas doesn't; (2) Proportionality (see above); and (3) Minimum force, i.e., that the least amount of force is always used. A small rocket, we're frequently told, is no big deal.
What are you trying to achieve?
The bottom line here is that, if Israel plays ball and Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel, then Israel has the following choices: (1) It can do to Hamas what it did to the PLO in Beirut in '82 and risk taking that large a number of innocent lives; (2) It can ignore the attacks and allow itself to be kicked in the shins by a shrieking infant of a "political organization"; or (3) It can respond proportionately.
What Israel can't do is a repeat of what it just recently did, i.e., bomb Gaza for a month and send in ground troops and not finish the job. Nor can its response to so disproportionate that so many innocent people die. But when dealing with an enemy like Hamas, which doesn't play by fair rules to begin with, Israel should do what it has to do and maintain its integrity to some extent.
Sorry if firing back weapons of equal caliber upsets people. Apparently some people can't be pleased at all.