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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Live by the sword…

die by the sword.

If your community is built around a terrorist organization, and relies upon that organization for infrastructure and funding, you should not be too surprised when that infrastructure gets ripped out by irate victims of said terrorist organization.

And before anyone starts whining about ‘disproportionate force’ being used by the Israelis, I would encourage them to reflect on what force used in self-defense is supposed to be proportionate to. If someone attacks you with a knife, are you only allowed to use a knife to defend yourself, or can you pull your firearm and put them down with that? No one would say that a firearm is a ‘disproportionate’ response to a knife.

And that is because force is only disproportionate if it is (far) in excess of what is reasonably necessary to bring the aggression to a halt. A solid case can be made that, far from being disporportionate, the Israeli response has fallen far short of what they are entitled, and perhaps even obligated (to their citizenry) to exert.

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25 comments to Live by the sword…

  • Jacob

    The linked report states:
    “In sum, after the current Lebanon war has ended, a long period of rehabilitation will be required to get Lebanon back on its feet. The effort will require significant international action…”
    Let’s hope that the international community will insist upon the disarming of Hizbollah as a precondition to providing any reconstruction assistance.

  • ic

    “No one would say that a firearm is a “disproportionate” response to a knife.” May be not in Texas, but definitely put you in jail for a couple of months, if not years, in good old Britain or any one of the wimpy Euro countries.

  • “No one would say that a firearm is a “disproportionate” response to a knife.” May be not in Texas, but definitely put you in jail for a couple of months, if not years, in good old Britain or any one of the wimpy Euro countries.

    Of course, it would be much better to let the assailant kill you with the knife than defend yourself with the gun.

    <- Sarcasm

  • Eric

    I sympathise with Lebanese civilians in the areas of Lebanon that didn’t support Hezbollah, and I don’t think Shiite civilians in the south should be deliberately targeted by the IDF (and I don’t think they have).

    That said, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for terrorist supporters. If the price for allowing your villiage to be used as a launch site for an attack on a neighboring state is merely impoverishment, then I’d say you got off easy. Perhaps they can spend the next few years rebuilding roads and water systems instead of stirring up trouble.

  • fiona

    Israel’s previous venture into Lebanon in the early ’80s is what created Hezbollah in the first place.
    So all of Samizdata’s cheerleaders for Israel and Bush will, I’m sure, be really happy when some far more ruthless organization gets created as a result of this mayhem.

  • Hans Grietzer

    So all of Samizdata’s cheerleaders for Israel and Bush will, I’m sure, be really happy when some far more ruthless organization gets created as a result of this mayhem.

    Please explain how an organization can be more ruthless than Hezbollah. And people on Samizdata cheering for… Bush? Please cite some examples.

  • There she goes, fiona doing here typical lefty collective guilting all over the place. Of course, don’cha know, anybody who speaks up for Israel is a racist, a facist, or both, and obviously in league with the great and evil, er, bumbling and stupid, er, President Bush and his Vast C-Average Conspiracy.

  • Hezbollah certainly started young then,they killed 241 US Marines when they bombed the barracks in Beirut in 1983.
    Small matter of Hezbollah being an Iranian and Syrian backed organisation with cells around the world,not important that Hezbollah was created as a proxy force to do its master’s will.

  • veryretired

    Very good over at Belmont Club about this stuff.

  • CujoQuarrel

    Proper use of force

    “You wanna know how you do it? Here’s how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”

    Untouchables

  • R C Dean

    Israel’s previous venture into Lebanon in the early ’80s is what created Hezbollah in the first place.

    And this justifies Hez aggression since the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon several years ago . . . how, exactly?

  • guy herbert

    No one would say that a firearm is a ‘disproportionate’ response to a knife.

    They might, and with justification. It depends on the factual circumstances.

    If someone attacks you – genuinely attacks you, not threatens to do so – with a knife and you shoot that person once or twice, as necessary to stop the immediate attack, then few people are going to hold you in the wrong.

    If someone lunges at you with a knife (perhaps even causing you some injury), and then joins bus queue of similar-looking people hoping to escape on the bus, are you justified in producing an automatic weapon, firing at any buses in the street to crash them rather than let him get away, and meanwhile blasting away at anyone in the crowd who might be him or one of his friends, without worrying about the crowd? No one who’s not a gangsta would think that’s reasonable behaviour or that it should be normal. Yelling, “Get out of my way!” a few seconds before emptying your magazine doesn’t make you less of a maniac, either.

  • Brian

    Carl von Clausewitz…

    “The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility”

  • If someone lunges at you with a knife (perhaps even causing you some injury), and then joins bus queue of similar-looking people hoping to escape on the bus, are you justified in producing an automatic weapon, firing at any buses in the street to crash them rather than let him get away, and meanwhile blasting away at anyone in the crowd who might be him or one of his friends, without worrying about the crowd?

    In the context of civil society, with functioning police services with after-the-fact investigative capabilities, clearly such behaviour is unacceptable. In the context of a war, that is EXACTLY what is appropriate behaviour.

  • He has not joined a random bus queue, but he is your neighbour who has just gone back into his house where he has been living for decades, throwing rocks, fire and hate over the fence and digging under it to attack your children.

    You let rip with the automatic rifle into the house.

    Now THAT is a comparison.

  • That’s an incomplete analogy. As it stands it’s a platitude.

    It needs information on how many bulllets could be fired, whether you could attack with grenades and rockets and whatnot aswell, and the number of bystanders that can be killed or injured.

  • R C Dean

    No one would say that a firearm is a ‘disproportionate’ response to a knife.

    Obviously, I underestimated the eagerness of some people to try to wiggle and avoid the rather obvious point of my example. Allow me to amend it to read no one considering the issue in good faith would say . . .

    If someone lunges at you with a knife (perhaps even causing you some injury), and then joins bus queue of similar-looking people hoping to escape on the bus, are you justified in producing an automatic weapon, firing at any buses in the street to crash them rather than let him get away, and meanwhile blasting away at anyone in the crowd who might be him or one of his friends, without worrying about the crowd?

    This would not be legitimate self-defense regardless of what you were attacked with. Bad example: it doesn’t illuminate the issue of what is proportionate at all, but rather goes to the issue of what constitutes self-defense. Try again.

    That’s an incomplete analogy. As it stands it’s a platitude

    .

    Its a platitude that illustrates my larger point about proportionality. A point, I observe, that no one has cared to dispute openly.

  • earl west

    regarding proportionality, in canada it is illegal to use a gun to defend against a knife. there have been numerous people prosecuted and convicted for defending themselves against an attacker. if you kill someone with your bare hands who has attacked you with a weapon, you will automatically be charged with murder.

  • What is the point of drawing platitudinous analogies to attempt to find righteousness and good in a complex, tangled, and hideous situation?

    If populations who hate each other do everything in their power to destroy and discredit each other, the hypothetical man in the street in generally best served by jumping the next train (or high-speed ferry) out of town.

  • R C Dean

    What is the point of drawing platitudinous analogies to attempt to find righteousness and good in a complex, tangled, and hideous situation?

    The point is to illustrate the vacuity and the hidden (and indefensible) assumptions of those who prate about “proportionality” when what they really have a problem with (see, e.g., Canada) is individuals or nations taking responsibility for their own self-defense, rather than surrendering this fundamental right to the Almighty Collective.

    Still not arguing my point that proportionality is rightly measured against what is necessary to bring the aggression to a halt, not the force actually being used by the aggressor, hmm?

  • J

    Since no-one else is biting…

    Still not arguing my point that proportionality is rightly measured against what is necessary to bring the aggression to a halt, not the force actually being used by the aggressor, hmm?

    Firstly, the root question is not what is proportional, it’s what is reasonable. Some might argue that a reasonable defence should be proportional to the threat, but that’s not obvious to me at all.

    So, should we take effectiveness of a defence into account when considering what is reasonable? Of course. Does that mean that any action is reasonable, if it is the least bad effective defence? Obviously not. The seriousness of the threat must also play a part, and most people (I think) would agree that even self preservation does not justify all acts.

    Were the Russians justified in deliberately gassing several hunded innocent people to take out a terrorist threat in their capital city? Most people thought their tactics were bad – too much guaranteed collateral damage to mitigate a too low risk of more damage. Same in Lebanon

    My (and perhaps others) objection to Israel’s tactics is just that. They have every right to invade Lebanon and mitigate the threat to their people. But not at any cost. The ends do not justify the means.

  • Joshua

    The seriousness of the threat must also play a part, and most people (I think) would agree that even self preservation does not justify all acts.

    This is good point. The appropriateness of Israel’s reponse has to be measured in terms of the threat they are trying to eliminate. In this case, we’re talking about a paramilitary organization approaching nationhood in terms of its ability to control and keep order in its “territory” which has stocked piles of rockets that can and do hit Israeli civilian targets. This organization also receives generous amounts of aid from two of Israel’s biggest enemies and seems like a convenient tool for proxy wars. Most importantly, this is an organization that has stated that Israel is illegitimate and must be destroyed. So in R C Dean’s analogy of the man who stabs you, you’d have to imagine a man who is sworn to kill you, you know that if you let him live he will continue to try, and the police (the UN/International Community) are not going to arrest him.

    I think under the circumstances, shooting to kill is the only option.

    Israel, by the way, has not used “all acts” in self defense. They have not carpet bombed Lebanon, there have been no massacres and no targeting of civilians. In other words, Israel hasn’t sprayed “the bus” with bullets from an automatic rifle. What they’ve done is take aim at knife-wielders who sometimes grab passangers and throw them into the line of fire. And yes, sometimes Israeli aim is bad and they hit passengers on their own.

    Unlike a man sworn to kill you attacking with a knife on a bus, Israel doesn’t get the luxury of just injuring him and then waiting to take him out later when he’s not surrounded by passengers. In real life, the man never leaves the bus, and there are always passengers around to get hurt.

    Israel can’t do better than it is doing. It is doing the right thing and going about it in an acceptable manner. Possibly it is not being as efficient or careful as some people would like – but these are not your homes being bombed, and it is not your families Hezbollah believes it is on a mission from God to kill (although there’s reason to believe that your families are next if Israel falls).

  • David L Nilsson

    Off-topic. Deleted.

  • Most people thought their tactics were bad – too much guaranteed collateral damage to mitigate a too low risk of more damage. Same in Lebanon

    This both (a) discounts the threat from Hez to Israel and (b) is rather sanguine in accepting undoubtedly inflated reports of “collateral damage” to civilians from Hez. I’m not so sure.

    Given the continued attacks on Israel as this campaign goes forward, how can anyone say that the Israeli response has been excessive, whether your benchmark is “proportionality” or “reasonableness”? If anything, the Israeli response has been too little, not too much.

    I do not, by the way, regard destruction of dual use facilities like roads and communications networks that are being used by Hez as being “collateral” damage. Those are all legitimate targets in wartime.

  • The Jabberwock

    For an alternative (presumably Maronite) view of the unfolding tragedy in Lebanon, see the following link.

    Would that I have the courage to say this if my country were under attack:

    We knew that Iran, by means of Hezbollah, was building a veritable Maginot line in the south but it was the pictures of Maroun el-Ras and Bint J’bail that revealed to us the magnitude of these constructions. This amplitude made us understand several things at once : that we were no longer masters of our destiny. That we do not possess the most basic means necessary to reverse the course of this state of things and that those who turned our country into an outpost of their islamic doctrine’s combat against Israel did not have the slightest intention of willingly giving up their hold over us.

    The defeat of the Shi’a fundamentalists of Iranian allegiance is imminent. The figures communicated by Nasrallah’s minions and by the Lebanese Red-Cross are deceiving: firstly, of the 400 dead declared by Lebanon, only 150 are real collateral civilian victims of the war, the others were militiamen without uniform serving Iran. The photographic report “Les Civils des bilans libanais” made by Stéphane Juffa for our agency constitutes, to this day, the unique tangible evidence of this gigantic morbid manipulation. Which makes this document eminently important.

    Like the overwhelming majority of Lebanese, I pray that no one puts an end to the Israeli attack before it finishes shattering the terrorists. I pray that the Hebrew soldiers will penetrate all the hidden recesses of southern Lebanon and will hunt out, in our stead, the vermin that has taken root there. Like the overwhelming majority of Lebanese, I have put the champagne ready in the refrigerator to celebrate the Israeli victory.