In today’s Washington Post, Richard Cohen aligns himself with such bellicose pundits as Victor Davis Hanson as he argues for unhinged and indiscriminate violence against any and all associated (if only geographically) with Hezbollah terrorists. To suggest otherwise, as he *imagines* serious people have done, is pernicious anti-semitism:
>It also includes a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, *it seems*, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom.
>The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that *it makes you wonder* if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. [emphasis mine]
Two points. First, those who have urged restraint have not suggested (and even Cohen admits as much with “it seems”) Israel engage in a game of missile pong–one for one. Proportionality is a principle of just war–of *jus in bello* to be exact. Those who urge it have rightly suggested that Israel not obliterate innocent civilians who are no more capable of controlling Hezbollah than Israel is. This argument is made on two independent grounds. First, it’s morally wrong to kill civilians. Second, as a matter of prudence, Israel cannot achieve its goal of eliminating Hezbollah by advertising for it’s most extravagant claims–that Israel engages in terrorism.
Second, to criticize Isreal’s reaction to the kidnapping of two soldiers (remember that) is not anti-semitic:
>These calls for proportionality rankle. They fall on my ears not as genteel expressions of fairness, some ditsy Marquess of Queensberry idea of war, *but as ugly sentiments pregnant with antipathy toward the only democratic state in the Middle East.* After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of mayhem and murder, the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel’s enemies want that, they can have it in a moment. [emphasis mine].
First, no one seriously urges the kind of silly military policy Cohen suggests; second, sometimes, believe it or not, Israel can be in the wrong–not because it’s *Israel*, but just because, like anyone or anything human, it errs.
So, Cohen, show how Israel is not wrong this time, not how anyone who criticizes them secretly wishes its annihilation.
It’s hard to say the author of the following in today’s Washington Post has in mind a straw man: we have seen in recent days on this site various iterations of the argument he attacks. Read the whole thing, but especially:
>Unfortunately — as the United States itself discovered during World War II and Vietnam, to cite just two examples — strategic bombing has almost never worked. Far from bringing about the intended softening of the opposition, bombing tends to rally people behind their own leaders and cause them to dig in against outsiders who, whatever the justification, are destroying their homeland.
While this point had already been made by Mr.Grey in a comment a few days ago, it’s worth repeating.