In defense of Israel's 'disproportionate' response in Gaza
It's war. Victory requires a superior military advantage.
It seems that whenever Israel responds to violent overtures from groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, leaders of the international community are quick to assign equal condemnation to Israelis and Palestinians regardless of whether one is legitimately acting in self-defense.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Whether it is due to a latent anti-Semitism, the desire to avoid inflaming fundamentalist Arab passions, or simply an unrealistic belief in equality, world leaders are focusing too much on buzzwords.
In the case of Israel, the buzzwords are the "disproportionate" and "excessive" use of force – terms used in the 2006 Lebanon war and most recently spoken by French President Nikolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in response to Israel's Gaza offensive.
This is a particularly puzzling criticism of Israel. Would the international community truly prefer a proportionate or equal response? If Hamas launches three crudely-fashioned rockets into Israel, should the Israeli government respond with three equally-crude rockets? If three Israeli Defense Forces are kidnapped by Hezbollah, should the IDF respond by kidnapping an equal number of Hezbollah foot-soldiers?
The notion of "proportional" response lacks both merit and logical support for several reasons. In war, there are winners and losers, and the only palatable means of victory come from a disproportionate use of force. Victors are inherently more skilled in combat, tactics, and in the effective deployment of (generally superior) technology.
It does not make sense to demand one technologically or militarily superior belligerent to refrain from fighting to their full potential, simply because they are able to enact "disproportionate" damage on a weaker foe.
Should the United States have refrained from using the atomic bomb because Japan did not yet possess one? Would it have been better to extend Lend-Lease to Nazi Germany as well as Britain so that neither side would gain the advantage? Simply put, a militarily superior force should not limit itself due to the international community's desire to root for the underdog.