Friday, July 21, 2006

I've got your "proportionality" right here

From The American Enterprise:
As Israel defends itself from terrorists intent on the country’s destruction, many foreign leaders have had the audacity to criticize Israel for using disproportionate force. The United States had to veto a United Nations draft resolution sponsored by Qatar, which, among other things, restated the proportionality test that seems to apply only to Israel.

Specifically, the resolution “[c]alls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to halt its military operations and its disproportionate use of force that endanger the Palestinian civilian population and to withdraw its forces to their original positions outside the Gaza Strip.”

President Chirac echoed this same concern. “I find honestly—as all Europeans do—that the current reactions are totally disproportionate.”

The notion of proportionality sounds reasonable on its face, but after a second’s worth of thought, it crumbles quickly. The “disproportional” critics imply that Israel should act in a manner that is equal to, but doesn’t exceed the Hezbollah attack in its degree of force.

These critics also imply that Israel’s actions should be at the level necessary to punish Hezbollah—a criminal justice type of reaction, such as an eye for an eye.
You know, that whole Clinton-Kerry "terrorism is a nuisance, a law enforcement problem" mentality that makes the American electorate distrust their ability to properly understand the true nature of our enemy. Continuing:
When the United States was attacked on 9/11, the appropriate response was not to define what an equivalent act would be or to think of a just punishment. The response was to do whatever it took to defend the country and ensure that future attacks didn’t occur.

Israel isn’t reacting, nor should it, based on a one-to-one response to Hezbollah’s actions. Instead, it is identifying the means by which future—not past—attacks will cease. It is hard to imagine any other country being so roundly criticized for such reasonable self-defense.

If “disproportional force” were used in its proper context, there wouldn’t be any criticism of Israel. Certainly, a country can fairly be criticized for acting disproportional to a provocation if it is going beyond what is necessary to defend itself. For Israel, it must meet a much tougher standard—a standard that has nothing to do with self-defense.

Even France, if it had rockets pointed at it directly across from its northern border, likely would take immediate action to diffuse the threat. This was an action that Israel chose not to do, even though it certainly would’ve been well within its rights.

If some of those same rockets were fired into France and two French soldiers kidnapped, the French would take immediate action. Proportionality never would enter into their discussions.
Yes, France indeed would take immediate action to diffuse the threat. She would frantically find the person/nation/group to whom she should surrender. Continuing:
The current fighting will not desist unless Israel can feel comfortable that border security is stabilized—so rockets aren’t pointing at innocent Israelis. The destruction of Hezbollah certainly remains the goal, but as has been recently indicated by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel is seeking more obtainable short-term solutions.

As reported, if the two soldiers are freed, rocket attacks stopped, and the Lebanese secure the border, Israel will stop using force within Lebanon. This is a major concession by Israel. For many countries, the attacks wouldn’t stop until Hezbollah were completely squashed within Lebanon.

There should be no illusion that Israel’s solutions can be quickly achieved. Even if the soldiers are returned and rocket attacks stopped, it seems unlikely that Lebanon’s military could secure the border without Hezbollah “voluntarily” choosing to give up the border (likely from external pressures). At best, border security would be short-lived, until Hezbollah repositioned itself there again to attack Israel.

If there is a cessation of violence but attacks from the North ultimately resume, let’s be clear that a proportional reaction would be for Israel to act like any other sovereign nation. It should do what is necessary to protect itself and its citizens. Instead of being caught by surprise, the United States and its allies should get on the same page now and acknowledge that self-defense is never a disproportional use of force.
What would a "proportionate" response have been to Pearl Harbor? Bombing Okinawa, then telling Japan "Now don't do that again, or we may have to attack another one of your same-sized targets"? I'm sure that would have shaken Hirohito to his core!