Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dictating retaliation 

Palestinians shoot rockets at Israelis, the Israelis retaliate, and the Palestinians complain about the intensity of the retaliation.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas labeled Israel's actions to counter the constant firing of rockets into the Gaza Strip "worse than the Holocaust."

Abbas said that Israel's response to the continuous bombardment of western Negev towns by Palestinian terrorists was too severe, saying that its operations which have left at least 33 Palestinians dead on Saturday were unacceptable retaliation to the firing of rockets.

This idea that there are narrow legal or moral limits on the "acceptable retaliation" for an attack is false as a matter of law, morality, or history. It also increases the likelihood of war.

The entire idea behind deterrance is that the retaliation for an attack might well be out of proportion to the attack itself. One would think that the reason for this is obvious, but it seems lost on the Palestinians and their sympathizers.

If law or morality or God were to require that retaliation for an attack be commensurate with the attack itself, then attackers would essentially dictate the force that could be used against them. The attacker could then calmly decide whether it was more able or willing to absorb losses than the defender and structure the attack accordingly, all with the comfort of knowing in advance that law, morality, or God would not allow the defender to inflict losses that the attacker was not able or willing to sustain.

In other words, if the attacker can control the extent of the retaliation against him, he will not be deterred from attacking in the first place. Effective deterrance requires that the attacker not be able to predict the losses he will suffer in retaliation. A prospective attacker will only be deterred if he know that there is at least the possibility of massive retaliation out of proportion with the original attack. This is why, for example, Dwight Eisenhower loudly declared that any nuclear attack on the United States, no matter how limited, would be met with massive, unconditional, and total retaliation. Anything less might not have deterred such an attack in the first place.

So, the next time you hear some fool bleating witlessly about the Israelis -- or anybody else -- responding to an attack "disproportionately," take the time to point out to them that the morality they propose would result in more war rather than less.


By Blogger rickl, at Sun Mar 02, 01:17:00 AM:

I'm sure it's been said before, but a "proportional" Israeli response would be to simply drop a few old-fashioned dumb bombs on civilian neighborhoods. Would that satisfy the peaceniks and appeasers?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 07:34:00 AM:

On one hand, I agree that a response is supposed to be greater than the provocation, to discourage future acts. But you fail to realize the ability of some (groups of) people to simply "not get the point". In this case, was your retaliation useful?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 08:29:00 AM:

I think that's exactly why this retaliation, like so many past such events, isn't big enough to actually accomplish a military goal. It's more a violent ongoing negotiation than a true military act.

Responding with a full, unbridled war wouldn't stop this Hamas insanity, and so it seems the Israelis respond in a carefully proportionate manner. I can't imagine living in Israel; the day-to-day bravery required is incredible. What will it take for the Saudis to stop funding this pathological state of affairs?  

By Blogger joated, at Sun Mar 02, 09:59:00 AM:

How did that line from The Untouchables go again....Oh, yeah:
"He pulls a knife you pull a gun, he sends one of yours to the hospital you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way."

Should work just about everywhere there are cowardly bullies like the PAL and Hamas.  

By Blogger Papa Ray, at Sun Mar 02, 10:18:00 AM:

Almost everyone agrees that killing Hamas and other PA radicals and even civilians has accomplished nothing over the last few decades.

But what to do?

Well, I'm a bloodthirsty, right wing American, I am supposed to say "kill them all and let Allah sort them out".

While that might work in a way, the rest of the world wouldn't like it one bit.

Hit them where it hurts, just like in any business or enterprise, in their pocket book and in their day to day lives.

Cut off all money, all electricity, all fuel shipments, all food and even water if you can.

Oh the horror...we can't do that, they will all die anyway, except it will be a long and horrible and inhumane death.

Well, no, not exactly. They will just pack up and go somewhere that they can get food, water and the other things that they require to live.

Or they will come running out in human waves, RPGs and AK's and such, in a last gasp of trying to save themselves.

Well, in the last instance, that is when we kill them all and let Allah sort it out.

The ones that are smart will just go into other countries and refuse to leave. If those countries take them back and dump them back into a wasteland, then the faith of the Palestinians is on them.

Papa Ray  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 10:42:00 AM:

I apppreciate and understand the futility of trying to impose rules on war. However, don't the Geneva Conventions say something about porportional response to attack? Not that I actually care but something to consider.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 11:51:00 AM:

Whenever I have heard the proportional response argument, it has usually been coupled with a concern about accuracy; having an Israeli do something doesn't mean Israelis generally support it, and vice versa for Palestinians. The fear I have heard articulated is that with swift, sure, and devastating responses, you tend to miss your targets, kill civilians, and breed more terrorists.

That being said, I think that the whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict is one that there are no good answers for, so these concerns appear trivial.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 12:21:00 PM:

"However, don't the Geneva Conventions say something about porportional response to attack?"

No, they don't. That's a liberal myth. (no that isn't just partisan rhetoric, Mr. Chambers... there is a school of international relations called 'liberal' and they propagate that idea)

What the Law of War forbids is disproportionate attacks against military forces in civilian areas, in order to reduce collateral damage. For example, if there is an enemy platoon holed up in a structure in a town overlooking a bridge you want to cross, bombarding the entire town is unacceptable. Shelling the structure (and the surrounding structures, since artillery isn't super accurate) is perfectly fine.

If the enemy kills 8 of your guys, it is not somehow against the law to kill 9 of theirs. That's absurd, as Hawk points out.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Mar 02, 03:22:00 PM:

All this talk about the Geneva Convention or "proportionality" is frankly nonsense in this case. Hamas, as does Hezbollah, deliberately puts civilians in harm's way for the purpose of securing propaganda advantage by their deaths.

It is unlikely that the Geneva Convention foresaw that a combatant would have no more respect for the lives of its own civilians than for its enemies. I do not believe even the Nazis stooped this low. And the well-meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) leftists who try to draw moral equivalence between Israel and these enemies are doing nothing but sanctioning and encouraging this savage, barbaric practice.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 07:35:00 PM:

It is truly amazing! There is no shortage of people out there that don't want to take responsibility for their actions! Consider this http://newsdroppings.blogspot.com/2008/02/man-dies-after-shark-attack-off-florida.html  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 02, 09:22:00 PM:

Multistep process -
First Israel should file a complaint with the UN, with specifics, reporting the relentless rocket attacks and demanding that the UN take actions to stop the attacks immediately - ie 24 hours. That simply establishes that the country is being attacked. The UN cannot and will not do anything.
Second - after 24 hours fire indescriminate dumb rockets on a 5 back to 1 received ratio into Gaza. Simply "proportionate" response to attack.
Third - simultaneously shut off all power, food, fuel, other supplies and water. No ticket no shirt.
Fourth - take pictures of every Israeli casualty (like the Palis do from the correct angle) and publish them widely "Utube".
Fifth - keep it up until there are no more rockets or human bombs and the "leadership" of Hamas and Fatah beg for forgiveness.
Many years ago my parents taught me pacifist response. After getting beat to a pulp a few times I learned that the pacifist response was crap. Amazing how things changed in my miserable life when I fought back.  

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