Change the words and the minds will follow
Posted by aogMonday, 24 July 2006 at 19:14 TrackBack Ping URL

One theme that has been heavily used by Caliphascist fellow travelers in the West is the concept of “proportionality” with regard to military operations. As usual, what we have here is the classic re-definition of a term to something completely different that is more useful to the Caliphascists.

When I first heard all the whining about Israel reacting “disproportionately”, I wondered where that concept had come from. I asked about this over at Brothers Judd and was pointed at some original documents.

It became clear after perusing them that “proportionality” in the Law of War had a specific meaning in international law. This was that military means should be proportional to military ends. If a nation decides to conquer a city, then it is required to avoid civilian casualities where possible. For example, if control of the city isn’t contested, then the conquering nation may not use force against it (this is the concept of “open city”) because such use of force is not needed or even useful for the accomplishment of the military goal.

I find this is a very reasonable principle, because it basically says “don’t be wantonly violent”. Note that it says nothing about the selection of military goals, only about what means are used to attain them.

The newly minted definition that I see much used is radically different because it is based on a comparison of military goals between two parties. I.e., Israel is being “disproportionate” because their military goal of destroying Hizballah isn’t proportional to the capture of two IDF soldiers. I found no mention of such a restriction in any of the original documents I read, which rightly leave such decisions to the political processes of the nations at war. That’s not acceptable and so the meaning was changed by a self selected set of elites in order to further their own goals.

This is precisely why so many of us who pay attention disdain international law, because it becomes not law but merely the pretext for implementing the political will of the unelected and unaccountable. Like arguing with people who simply redefine their terms when caught in a logic trap, there’s no point in treaties if the language has no fixed meaning.

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