What Pres. Obama & SecState Kerry cannot grasp....
Shoshana Bryen offers a plain-English tutorial on proportional reponse in waging war:
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
Bryen cites widely-recognized legal authorities that establish: (a) civilian deaths, if unavoidable--even though predictable--are not a war crime: (b) civilians must not be targeted (principle of distinction); (3) means must not be disproportionate to legitimate ends (principle of proportionality).
The Left construes proportionality to mean that the scale of response not exceed the scale of the attack. But this favors terrorists, because tit-for-tit denies Israel the chance to effectively eliminate the threat. The aggressor can keep attacks on a small enough scale to prevent effective action being taken, and thus control how the conflict unfolds.
THE HIDDEN HERO IN SAVING PALESTINIAN LIVES? IRON DOME.
HOW SO? Without Iron Dome rocket intercepts over Israeli cities, the rain of rockets would cause hundreds, perhaps over a thousand Israeli casualties. This would force Israel to rapidly destroy rocket havens via massive aerial bombardment, which would take many thousands of Palestinian lives.
Israeli Amb. to the US Ron Dermer says--aptly--that the IDF deserves a peace prize for its "unimaginable restraint" to limit collateral casualties--"Israeli soldiers are dying so that innocent Palestinians can live." It takes vastly greater force to find & destroy tunnels--potentially more dangerous to Israel than rocket barrages--than it takes for Hamas to use the tunnels to infiltrate terrorists into Israel to kill or take hostages Here is a prime example of a tunnel attack. An Israeli entrepreneur is developing a tunnel detection system that might in a few years neutralize the Palestinian tunnel threat. Great force is precisely what America used after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, in order to destroy al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It is what we used to hunt Osama bin Laden for a decade.
Instead Team Obama, obsessed with Palestinian "civilian" casualties (often not easy to know in human shield wars), is pressuring US allies Israel & Egypt to invite Islamist Qatar & equally Islamist Turkey into the negotiations, which would of course redound to the benefit of Hamas. The phrase "moral idiocy" applies to this conflict with special force, in equating Israel & Hamas in the mindless "cycle of violence" trope. Also in prime "moral idiocy" category: the UN turning over the 20 Hamas rockets found in its Gaza school to--NOT making this up--the Palestinians. And yesterday a second cache of rockets was found at a UN school in Gaza. Oh, Hamas also hid rockets in children's playgrounds. Here is an IDF video (1:39) of Hamas rockets near a Gaza agricultural school, loaded on launchers, some ready to fire. Hezbollah, for its part, is sitting this one out, preoccupied with shoring up Iran-backed Bashir Assad in Syria.
Meanwhile an Israeli mom wrote an open letter to Palestinian moms, asking them to think like mothers who love their children. Compare her anguished plea to a recent statement by the mother of one of the Palestinians who last month kidnapped & murdered three Israeli teens: “If [my son] truly did it — I’ll be proud of him till my final day.”
Record numbers of female reservists have volunteered, including pregant women. Andy McCarthy sees the problem as not Hamas, but the Palestinians, who freely elected Hamas in 2006 because of its desire to annihilate the Jews.
Jonathan Tobin sees Hamas's war undermining the liberal critique of Israel. Eugene Kontorovich sees in the FAA's ban on US flights to Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Int'l Airport a harbinger of rising economic pressure on Israel; in this case he believes--rightly, I think--that Team Obama pressed the FAA to make this move, in order to force Israel towards a ceasefire, which would come before Israel's goal of crippling Hamas could be completed. To his credit, ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Tel Aviv (on El Al, as few other airlines are flying in) to chastise the FAA for its rash decision. Israel's transport minister said that the FAA's action is "giving a prize to terror."
Not only do America's leaders not understand the enemy. Team Obama does not even understand our ally, Israel, and its domestic politics. Even super-dove Tzipi Livni, long an advocate of concessions to the Palestinians, publicly refused to rule out Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. This exchange between SecState Kerry and Israeli PM Netanyahu captures Kerry's total confusion as to Palestinian incitement against Israel & Jews:
Kerry: “When I fought in Vietnam, I used to look at the faces of the local population and the looks they gave us. I’ll never forget it. It gave me clarity that we saw the situation in completely different ways.”
Netanyahu (shouting): “This isn’t Vietnam! No one understands Israel but Israel.”
Kerry's own combat experience should inform him that Israel is using a small fraction of its destructive power, else Gaza City would lie in ruins. Yesterday he pushed for an immediate ceasefire while in Cairo, as lefty Livni told an interviewer: “First of all, it won’t happen before we really finish the tunnels project which was laid out as a strategic objective.”
Today Kerry arrived in Israel, no doubt to twist Israel's arm once again.
In stark contrast, the normally anti-Israel European Union has called upon Hamas & Islamic Jihad to disarm. Calling the rocket attacks "criminal and unjustifiable acts," the EU proclaimed: “The EU calls on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm.” Ex-Israeli amb. to the US Michael Oren sees demilitarization of Gaza as necessary.
So Israel fights Hamas militarily as it fights the administration of its most vital ally diplomatically.
Mideast scholar David Goldman writes that this time Israel must finish the job. Time is not on Israel's side. Next time Hamas will have GPS-guided precision-aim rockets that could overwhelm Iron Dome, which today lets errant rockets (most of them) fall untouched. Goldman sees Israel with a broad spectrum of backers in Europe & the Mideast, making this the time to neutralize Hamas once and for all.
Bottom Line. It is hard enough to combat terrorists. Allowing them to use our legal system & media outlets against us gives them a weapon that can tip the balance of a conflict in their favor. We should never allow this. But because Western leaders & their publics loathe seeing carnage on their tv, often we will allow ourselves to be gulled by our adversaries.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, National Security, Conservative Politics