Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dissing "Disproportionate Response"...

Over the past few years a recurring plaint from liberals, their lamestream media lapdogs, and the losing side of a war (fascinating how that particular combination is seen so often!) is the notion of “disproportionate response”. The American military and most especially the Israeli military have often been accused of this. The general idea, apparently, is that when one country is attacked, it is under some kind of obligation to respond with a level of military intensity that is “proportionate” (by which they really mean “roughly equal”) to that of that attack that provoked it.

I've always dismissed such criticism as utter nonsense on the face of it, and really just aimed at trying to pressure the attacked country into not defending itself. In fact, I believe an overwhelmingly disproportionate response is often the very best military strategy. For example, in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas (operating out of Gaza), Hamas is attacking an Israeli city with missiles. Israel is being accused of disproportionate response because it has started military operations inside Gaza to rid themselves of the Hamas attackers. I think it would be very smart of them to rampage all through Gaza, capturing all the cached Hamas weaponry (especially those damned missiles) and killing every last one of those Hamas fighters and their sympathizers and supporters. But the lamestream media (and Hamas, of course) seems to believe that what Israel really ought to do is to lob a few missiles back at Hamas. How dumb is that?

This morning I read a post by Tigerhawk that says it much better than I could. Here's his conclusion (which is actually about half the short post):
If law or morality or God were to require that retaliation for an attack be commensurate with the attack itself, then attackers would essentially dictate the force that could be used against them. The attacker could then calmly decide whether it was more able or willing to absorb losses than the defender and structure the attack accordingly, all with the comfort of knowing in advance that law, morality, or God would not allow the defender to inflict losses that the attacker was not able or willing to sustain.

In other words, if the attacker can control the extent of the retaliation against him, he will not be deterred from attacking in the first place. Effective deterrance requires that the attacker not be able to predict the losses he will suffer in retaliation. A prospective attacker will only be deterred if he know that there is at least the possibility of massive retaliation out of proportion with the original attack. This is why, for example, Dwight Eisenhower loudly declared that any nuclear attack on the United States, no matter how limited, would be met with massive, unconditional, and total retaliation. Anything less might not have deterred such an attack in the first place.

So, the next time you hear some fool bleating witlessly about the Israelis -- or anybody else -- responding to an attack "disproportionately," take the time to point out to them that the morality they propose would result in more war rather than less.
What he said!

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