Friday, January 9, 2009

Thinking About Proportionality

Michael Walzer, who is one of our greatest current thinkers on just war theory, faults the news media, political commentators, and the peace protest racket for abusing the concept of "proportionality" in war. The notion is used far more frequently in favor of the use of excessive force, not as a criticism againt it. Proportionality is used correctly when posed as acceptable levels of civilian deaths in relation to the war's aim: "How many civilian deaths are "not disproportionate to" the value of defeating the Nazis?"

Walzer raises serious questions for current critics of Israel, and this one is particularly good:

Is the attacking army acting in concrete ways to minimize the risks they impose on civilians? Are they taking risks themselves for that purpose? Armies choose tactics that are more or less protective of the civilian population, and we judge them by their choices. I haven't heard this question asked about the Gaza war by commentators and critics in the Western media; it is a hard question, since any answer would have to take into account the tactical choices of Hamas.
We haven't heard this question by critics of Israel because Hamas wouldn't pass the test of fighting a legal war respective of civilian life.

2 comments:

Norm said...

Did anyone say proportionality when the USA was bombing the crap out of Belgrade. When Hezbollah turned its guns around and starting wiping outsunni villages in Lebanon, did anyone hear the term "proportionality".

I see, so actualilty, "proportionality" means that if you hit your enemies hard, and at the sametime are Jewish....you're bad.

Well, here is reality. If you poke the lion, and keep poking the lion then one day that lion is going to turn around a swipe you with his claws.

What amazes me that Arab "men" goad Israel to attack on TV, on the radio, by shooting missiles into schools; and then when Israel turns around and hits them, whine like a bunch of babies: They're hitting me too hard.

What don't the lefties try selling the idea of proportionality to the marines.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks Norm.