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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Israel's War and the Deaths of Civilians

No matter how tepid Israel's response is, the international condemnations quickly follow while relying on the usual mainstays, rhetoric such as "Perpetuating the Cycle of Violence" and "Disproportionate Use of Force" that have no meaning.

Now the EU has gone further by claiming that any activity that "endangers" civilians is in violation of international law.

USA Today - EU condemns "disproportionate" use of force by Israel

The European Union on Sunday condemned what it called "disproportionate use of force" by the Israeli military in Gaza after 54 Palestinians were killed in the highest single day toll since fighting erupted in 2000.

In a statement, the EU urged Israel to halt activities that endanger civilians saying they were "contrary to international law."

"The (EU) presidency condemns the recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces against (the) Palestinian population in Gaza and urges Israel to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from all activities that endanger civilians. Such activities are contrary to international law," said the statement issued by the Slovene government on behalf of the EU.

What the EU has done here is raise the standard for permissible military action to one that not only does not kill civilians, but does not even endanger them. Obviously enough such a military operation against terrorists simply does not exist. Even a targeted killing or an attempt to arrest a terrorist endangers civilians. The standard of barring any operation that endangers civilians, is not even one that civilian police within EU countries can conceivably follow. The objective of rhetoric like this is of course to cripple Israel's ability to carry out any operation at all.

It is striking that despite repeated condemnations of the use of "disproportionate force", what exactly proportionate force might be has yet to be defined. Would the EU find it acceptable for Israel to randomly aim hundreds of rockets into Palestinian Arab towns? I believe we can safely predict what the answer would be. Therefore the issue is not of "proportionality", which is another piece of meaningless rhetoric used to condemn just about any Israeli operation.

Similarly UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's call for Israel to exercise restraint and avoid "disproportionate force" is yet another sham, as what exactly restraint is has yet to be defined. Restraint is simply a synonym for inaction.

Let us consider the nature of war. No major war has been fought in the last century or in this century, without significantly endangering civilians or even without killing civilians. Europe's own military campaign fought by NATO for Kosovo using America and European military forces claimed a large number of civilian lives, both Serbs and Albanians, as civilian convoys carrying refugees were strafed, a commuter train was bombed and even the Chinese embassy was hit killing three journalists.

It is important to note that Israel has not been guilty of such negligent brutality or anything remotely approximating it. It is also important to note that these bombings were completely disproportionate in relation to the actual actions of Serbian military forces. Yet NATO and the press felt that this campaign was fully justified because of a potential genocide and because it was a moral war.

Yet nothing is more rooted in both morality and law than a nation defending its own borders and citizens against terroristic violence. If Europe and the United States had the right to bomb embassies, refugee convoys and commuter trains on behalf of a third party, then there is little doubt that Israel has the right to attack the terrorists striking at its towns and even major cities. No moral or legal formula can be construed to argue otherwise.

The nature of war is such that civilians will die in it. Civilians have always died in war and they will certainly die, when one side shuns uniforms, operates from civilian areas and carries on an undeclared war using terrorists disguised as civilians. By doing so the Arab side has made the decision that civilians will die, either theirs or ours. By counter-attacking Israel chooses its civilians over those of the enemy, as England and America did when their warplanes bombed German cities.

The rules of war must either apply to both sides or none. They cannot apply to only one side. Yet that is the steel trap Israel is consistently being forced into with fraudulent humanitarian rhetoric. It is the same trap the United States is being forced into in its own War on Terror. But if unilateral war is wrong, so is unilateral pacifism.

The right of a government to rule derives from its prime function of providing for a national defense. It is therefore the moral and legal right of a government to wage war to prevent its own civilians from being killed, even if by doing so enemy civilians must in turn die.

What is being demanded of Israel under the guise of restraint and warnings about disproportionate force, is pacifism, to turn the other cheek, to allow Israeli civilians to be murdered without any armed response. No such demand may be made, morally or legally, of any government, as this nullifies the fundamental duty of a government to the people and the nation.

5 comments:

Keli Ata said...

Yep. That's exactly what the international community is asking Israel to do--turn the other cheek and be a whiping boy until the Palestinians decide to become civilized.

It's a double standard. You don't win a war with proportionate response to aggression.

Notice that there's no one word of condemnation against Hamas. Not a peep.

steve klein said...

Sultan, you wrote: "UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's call for Israel to exercise restraint..."


That the UN Secretary General urges restraint and condemns Israel's use of an excessive and disproportionate response, albeit infuriating, is to be expected. That Mr. Bush and Dr. Rice also call for Israel to exercise restraint is outrageous, especially in light of America's own war against jihadist terrorism. Did not the Administration's call for restraint, as well as protecting innocent civilian deaths go unmentioned here?

Wasn't it the U.S. Administration that demanded Israel curtail her defensive actions in Gaza as Rice returned to the region for more peace negotiations?

Sultan Knish said...

yes it did, as it almost always has

my specific point was to discuss civilian deaths in war and to parse a specific phrase that further downgrades Israel's right of self-defense

LemonLimeMoon said...

If Israel did not put up with it, it would stop. Since they do, it will continue.

Yobeeone said...

"If Israel did not put up with it, it would stop. Since they do, it will continue."

Yip! Just like with the school yard bully. Let him beat the crap out of you and he will do it till you graduate.

The most ridiculous two words in the universe are "disproportionate force." There's no such thing. If you just slap each other once each, that slapping will go on forever. Someone slaps you - you beat the crap out of him till he dies or surrenders. If he saps you again - kill him.

It really is that simple.

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