Monday, July 17, 2006

A Matter of Proportion

The “D” word came up again today in the news. This time it was the Lebanese prime minister who said it.

According to Brunei Direct:

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer” that the Israeli attack had opened “the gates of hell” with what he called a disproportionate response to Hezbollah’s Wednesday raid. [emphasis added]

I’m a fan of Disproportionate ResponseThe whole business has driven me to create a new graphic for the occasion.

The idea of a “disproportionate response” from Israel has been floating around a lot lately. Try using Google News to search for “disproportionate Israel Lebanon”, and you can click through the resulting links until your arm is crippled from carpal tunnel syndrome. The EU, the French, and the British left-wing press are all prominent proponents of the concept, but UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Capo of the World Mafia, has been the most notable. The first instance I noticed was Kofi Annan’s initial response to the crisis on July 13th:

I condemn all actions which target civilians, or which unduly endanger them due to their disproportionate or indiscriminate character. I would like to remind the parties that under the law of armed conflict, attacks must not be directed against civilian objects. In particular, they have an obligation to exercise precaution and to respect the proportionality principle in all military operations so as to prevent unnecessary suffering among the civilian population. I call on all parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and international agreements. [emphasis added]

If you could cut through all the Kofi-speak to the heart of the matter, what do you think would be a “proportionate” response to the provocations Israel has endured? Do the Israelis have to fire Qassam rockets into Gaza at Hamas? Do Jewish kids have to strap on bomb belts and blow themselves up in Ramallah?

Do Israeli commanders have to get on the phone to UN headquarters and clear their orders with the General Assembly before having their subordinates carry them out?

“So what do you think, Kofi — can we use a 1000-kilo bomb to take out this particular missile launcher? No? Artillery shells only? Right-o; will do.”

As someone recently said, it’s like a bank robbery — when the call comes in that three men are robbing a bank, then the cops can only send in three patrolmen to stop them.

Or imagine that you’re woken up in the middle of the night by a burglar in the living room. You grab your twelve-gauge and creep down the stairs very quietly. But when you flip on the light and surprise the burglar, he’s armed with only a knife! What do you do? Why, you drop the shotgun, rush to the kitchen, and rummage through the drawers for a knife. And not just any knife — it has to be no longer or sharper than the one the burglar has!

Of course, if you’re a British householder, you don’t have the shotgun to grab in the first place. Not only that, you can’t pick up a knife of any size to confront the thief with; otherwise you could end up in court on serious charges yourself. No, all you can do is sit down on the couch and say, “Help yourself, mate. Can I get you a cup of tea?”

Come to think of it, the UN prescription sounds like modern British law writ large, scaled up to resolve international conflicts. Lie down, be non-threatening, let the thugs take whatever they want, and wait for the coppers in the blue helmets to arrive. If they ever do. And, when they do arrive, prepare to be cited for human rights violations if you failed to provide your enemies with the proper handicapped accommodations.

I’m a fan of Disproportionate ResponseI say, “To hell with all that! Bring on the Disproportionate Response!”

As an American, I recognize my constitutional right to take whatever measures are necessary to protect myself, my family, and my home. If someone comes after my wife and child, tearing him limb from limb would not be disproportionate. If I showed mercy, and subdued him by other means, that would be my prerogative. But I am in no way required to.

I’m a fan of Disproportionate ResponseIt’s the same for Israel. Personally, I think the Israelis have shown remarkable restraint in the face of intolerable provocation. They not only bend over backwards — and take extra casualties — to avoid hurting civilians, they rush the enemy wounded to Israeli hospitals and give them the best treatment Western medicine can provide.

Based on what’s been done to them, they’d be justified in clearing Lebanon and Gaza of people and paving both places over. They haven’t; but that’s their prerogative.

I don’t think Israel’s enemies have seen even the beginnings of “disproportionate”.


Steal the graphics for your sidebar! Fight back against Kofi-speak!

And thanks to Naval Air Station Lemoore for the fist-and-lightning-bolt graphic.

22 comments:

Voyager said...

Actually since Hezbollah intends to destroy the State of Israel and has an avowed intention of doing so by whatever means, and has stated it has only just begun......................it seems hard to think of anything Israel might do, even the destruction of Southern Lebanon in its entirety, as being disproportionate.

Since the physical existence of the State of Israel is being imperilled and that is the stated intention of the aggressor, there is nothing whatsoever in an existentialist battle that could be considered disproportionate.................of course there are actions we would call "war crimes" but they are not "disproportionate" they are outlawed just as firing rockets at civilian population centres makes Hezbollah guilty before any world tribunal should one ever bother to deal with such criminally insane terrorists.

The Philistines tied Samson but could not prevent him bringing the roof down on their heads

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I'm sorry. Israel's response has bein reprehensibly disproportionate. All those empty Hamastan goverment buildings. The Beirut airport runway. Fuel tanks! By God! They killed fuel tanks!

Those poor defenseless, inanimate objects can't help being used by ARAB MUSLIM TERRORISTS BACKED BY SYRIA AND IRAN.

Voyager said...

Should do Damascus airport too so those planes from Teheran cannot transport any more missiles

cathyf said...

Well, of course the Israeli response has been disproportionate! A proportionate response would be to match the Hezbollah & Hamas war crimes tit for tat. And given the superior moral character of IDF troops, the Israelis would never be able to find more than a few random sociopaths, and they would never be able to keep up the pace set by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Greg Brown said...

In 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, killing 2500 Americans. A short time later Germany declared war on the US. In our "proportionate" response we devastated both countries and killed millions of Japanese, Germans and quite a few Italians.

Greg

Karridine said...

Baron, Dymphna: I'll post this directly above Pamela (Atlas Shrugged!)'s REPORT to the world, via Rush Limbaugh!

The MP3 of her breathless, glorious report is up there, for YOUR friends to send to THEIR friends, and friends of freedom and Israel everywhere!

Great Graphic! I get it (but then, I'm ex-ASA!), seeing the WHOLE POINT OF Armed Conflict to be a response (disproportionate, proportionate, leveraged, jiu-jitsued, wise, cunning or loopy) that causes your attackers SUCH DEATH AND PAIN that they no longer stomach attacking you! (see greg_brown's comment, above!)

Keep up the good work, Baron!
Karridine,
BrainSurgeryWithSpoons.blogspot.com

Jessica Rabbit said...

don't forget 'collective punishment' - that's also amongst the new cool words buzzing around

Voyager said...

we devastated both countries and killed millions of Japanese, Germans and quite a few Italians.

Let's be fair...........you declared neutrality on 5th Sept 1939 and waited for the japanese and Germans to invite you to join in - up to then it had been the British Empire fighting alone on 3 continents.........until the USSR joined in in June 1941

Milhouse said...

Thanks for the graphic. It now appears at Neo Warmonger.

Richard G. Combs said...

Thanks for the great graphic. I argue that you not only may, but must respond to aggression with sufficient force to stop it, to punish the aggressor, and to prevent repetition of the aggression in the future.

You owe innocent bystanders some consideration, but no more so than you owe the potential future victims of the aggressor.

Justice requires a disproportionate response.

AtlasShrugs.com said...

I love this. I took your idea and made a more detsiled one. Some guy saw it on my site and wants to make tee shirts with it. He wants to crib my graphic. I don't care (there is no $ in it for me.) But I don't think its my place to say ok, it was your graphic that inspired me. So let me now and I'll tell this guy......
Pamela
Atlas Shrugs.com

Charro99 said...

Extra-double disproportionality, please.

PS - honored to post next to Atlas. Keep it up, chica.

ScottSA said...

Either the trackback isn't working or I'm not working...I can't get it to work on the post of the graphic I did.

Baron Bodissey said...

ScotSA -- sometimes those trackbacks take a while to kick in. Also, they will mysteriously disappear and then reappear.

Mysterious indeed are the ways of Blogger,

hank_F_M said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hank_F_M said...

Baron

I know this is late. I have been spending a lot of time in the hospital with my friend who is very sick. Prayers are appreciated.


Proportionality governing warfare is part of the Western cultural heritage, I would not be quick to throw out the traditional meaning of the term, but there are a large number of people who use it in a way that makes a joke of the original meaning.

It is both a part or the Christian Just War Doctrine and International law.

Military actions are subject to proportionality in International Law unless there is a treaty mandating or prohibiting a specific actions, which must then be followed without regard to proportionality . I think there is very little addressed in Just War Doctrine discussions about what should be done if a treaty prohibits action that is proportionate thus mandating disproportionate action.

So what is proportionality?

That the harm done be less than the good obtained.

Which brings us to the irony of the debate

Israel’s justification for its action is to take out Hezbollah’s offensive ability for at least several years.

The quotes you cite accusing Israel of disproportionalaty miss the point. The question is not “are Israel’s actions proportionate to the damage done by Hezbollah?” rather "is the harm done by Israel’s actions proportionate to the good done by destroying Hezbollah’s offensive ability?"

Any force less than Israel is using is disproportionate because it will cause harm with out any hope the good (taking out Hezbollah’s offensive capability.) One could argue that destroying Hezbollah's offensive ability is not enough of good for the harm done, or one could argue that it is proportionate. I think we would make the same choice.

Ironically, to argue, as many who should know better are doing, that Israel’s level of operations should only be reduced is to argue that Israel act in a disproportionate manner. Of course the persons who are arguing that Israel act in this immoral and illegal manner seem to claim they are calling for proportionality. One hopes they are only confused.



I do not see how the Israeli government can claim it is fulfilling it’s side of the “social contract” with it’s people if it allows the type of terrorist attacks Hezbollah has been launching. Hezbollah has announced a goal of destroying Israel which would violate the Genocide treaty on several counts. Ensuring national survival and preventing the genocide of it’s citizens is a pretty large good, and the type of action envisioned by UN Charter Article 51.

Despite the items you quoted, Israel’s action meets the Just War doctrine and International law requirements for proportionality.

hank_F_M said...

Baron

Can you delete my first post. After I clicked to publish I noticed several typo's

Baron Bodissey said...

Hank,

First comment is deleted. You can delete them yourself, you know...

Unfortunately, "proportionate" is now one of those Humpty-Dumpty words that means what the left chooses it to mean.

Instead of:
"The military force necessary to accomplish a just end in a just manner."

It means:
"No more force than your underdog enemy is using against you."

I don't think we can do anything about the change of meaning, any more than we can reclaim the original meaning of the word "gay".

FreeBohemian said...

Awesome graphic and outstanding message. This is now posted at www.freebohemia.com

Alex said...

Hi

Please consider writing news pieces or an op-ed for Jewrusalem: Israeli Uncensored News. We strive to present different views and opinions while rejecting political correctness. Ideally, we try to make the news "smart and funny." Thus, your input is very welcome.

Best,
Alex
www.jewrusalem.net/en

PATHOCRACYDetectorTHX23:59:01 said...

This is pathetic, Israhell is the terrorist here. Zionists occupy our governments and are taking us to WWIII. Get a clue. Politicians who are Zionists are traitors, and all our politicians are Zionist.

Look at the Bush administration, full of dual loyalty Israelis, and they are the ones who pushed for wars and are now pushing for war vs Iran.

Inflaming Muslims, and then blaming Muslims, just an old Zionist trick of divide and conquer.

Not that Islam is great, it is not.

But don't let yourself be manipulated by filthy terrorist Israhell.

It is the source of terror.

http://zionofascism.wordpress.com/

http://www.geocities.com/anarchore/zionistpols.html

Uzi66 said...

Blah blah blah! Hey get a life mate! Using the old "Zionist- Jewish" plot just doesn't wash. The Muslims are quietly reproducing at the rate of gutter rats behind everyones backs. Just go into any large department store anywhere and you'll see the guy with the long beard and the night shirt and his harem of black robed ninjas. They claim to support peace. They spout the Koran at every chance trying to show the world just how just and righthous they are. Bulldust!! They're trying to destroy not only Israel but the whole of western society as we know it! In South Africa where I live every product you pick up is "hallal". While you're still screaming blue murder about jewish world domination take a reality check see wake up! Islam is creeping up and growing like a cancer !