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July 27, 2006

Comments

"Well, Rilkefan, if I were their defense counsel"

I would strongly them to find a lawyer who can read. Oops, sorry.

I certainly hope they won't end up on trial for simply having said the above before they get the chance to see the situation for themselves, and I hope any soldier who shoots a child faces a fair court martial.

Charles Bird says:

"...when a combatant is standing behind a woman and child and that combatant is firing at you, you kill the combatant and pray that the woman and child survive, and then you hope the combatant rots in hell for the evil act he did, and for which that combatant is responsible for."

*No you don't*. That right there illustrates everything that is wrong with warmonger morality. *No you don't*, not if you are a minimally sane and moral person.

In that situation, you step back and try to get out of the field of fire and then find another angle at which to shoot the combatant without putting the woman and child in danger. If you do what Charles suggests-- shoot without qualm and cry crocodile tears over the graves of the innocents you've killed-- you're a manslaughterer, and you *as well as* the combatant are responsible for the atrocity. (Responsibility needn't be divided up like a fixed-size pie; multiple parties can each be fully responsible for a crime).

And if you try to make a propaganda success out of such an action, you will be condemned by the vast majority of people in the vast majority of countries in the world. The people proposing that Israel try to make more propaganda hay out of its actions in Lebanon are utterly morally blind. To make propaganda hay out of such things you have to have a plausible-sounding story about why you have the moral high ground, and modern military forces when targeting hospitals, ambulances etc never ever have this, nor should they. It is indeed unfair and frustrating that guerrilla underdogs, terrorist or not, have an advantage here; they can often make their story sound plausible even when it is false, since people have a natural tendency to root for the underdog. But that doesn't make it any dumber of an idea for the likes of the IDF to try.

I'd strongly advise them to get a lawyer who can write, too.

I certainly hope they won't end up on trial for simply having said the above before they get the chance to see the situation for themselves, and I hope any soldier who shoots a child faces a fair court martial.

I doubt they can be tried for simply saying such things; what I meant was that, if they were accused of war crimes, the journalist's report would not tell in their favor.

Oh dear. This thread is overheating.

Anderson,

I do think there is an honest distinction to be made between einsatzgruppen and soldiers who decide that a particular area is a battlefield, where they will fire anything they have at anything that moves. Soldiers who make that decision may be war criminals - it depends on the intensity of the fighting and maybe also on other variables such as the importance of their immediate objective - but not all war criminals are in the same league as the Nazis. Put it like this: any civilian who took a stroll through Hue city while the fighting was in progress had no valid complaint about getting shot. (Of course I am not endorsing the disgusting suggestion of Dershowitz that they are "complicit"; but they are foolish.) Circumstances alter cases.

I second Billmon's remarks about Dan Gillerman. Anyone who believes the attack on the UN peacekeepers was an honest mistake simply doesn't know the score and probably doesn't want to.

I do think there is an honest distinction to be made between einsatzgruppen and soldiers who decide that a particular area is a battlefield, where they will fire anything they have at anything that moves.

Well, when the decision that "everyone's a terrorist" is being promulgated by the regime's justice minister, the distinction becomes harder to see. Hell, even the EG mostly began with shooting only male Jews, not *everybody*.

The Israelis are not as bad as the Nazis, but then, who is? That said, the two items I've quoted in this thread raise the question: why are Israeli officials and soldiers trying so very hard to *sound* like Nazis?

And certainly, trying to eliminate UN observers shortly before such statements are made, certainly fits the idea that whatever the Israelis are planning to do in south Lebanon, they're not wanting anyone watching while they do it. That would seem like a paranoid thought, were it not for the kill-them-all rhetoric that we're now hearing.

But you may be right about the thread's overheating, so I will wander off for the evening.

The Hezbollah terrorists are the ones who are responsible for most of the civilian deaths in Lebanon. The best solution for stopping this practice is to make the terrorists pay dearly for it.

So, if I follow your chain of thought:

1. Hezbollah deliberately hides among civilians.
2. The only way to stop them is to "make them pay dearly."
3. Presumably that means killing more of them.
4. While they're hiding among civilians.

So . . .

5. ??
6. Profits!

That about cover it? I mean, aside from the other implicit suggestion of putting out a sternly-worded press release concerning just who endangered whom, which should really get them shaking in their boots.

. . . ou kill the combatant and pray that the woman and child survive, and then you hope the combatant rots in hell for the evil act he did . . .

You actually hope for people to go to hell? Like, literal, fire-and-brimstone, presided-over-by-the-devil, wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth aitch-ee-double-toothpicks hell? You hope for it? Does your, like, church condone that?

That right there illustrates everything that is wrong with warmonger morality.

Nicholas, the immorality belongs to the Hezbollah combatants who hold the lives of their fellow Lebanese in such low esteem. Granted, Dershowitz is a partisan in this debate, but here goes:

It should be obvious by now that Hezbollah and Hamas actually want the Israeli military to kill as many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians as possible. That is why they store their rockets underneath the beds of civilians. That is why they launch their missiles from crowded civilian neighborhoods and hide among civilians. They are seeking to induce Israel to defend its civilians by going after them among their civilian ``shields." They know that every civilian they induce Israel to kill hurts Israel in the media and the international and human rights communities. They regard these human shields as ``Shahids," or martyrs, even if they did not volunteer for the lethal jobs. Under the law, criminals who use human shields are responsible for the deaths of their shields, even if the bullets that kill them come from policemen's guns.
Emphasis mine. I also give you Articles 28 and 29 of Geneva Conventions IV:
Art. 28. The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.

Art. 29. The Party to the conflict in whose hands protected persons may be, is responsible for the treatment accorded to them by its agents, irrespective of any individual responsibility which may be incurred.

The only way to stop them is to "make them pay dearly."

To stop Hezbollah from using civilians as human shields, Phil, all I'm saying is that the cost to them should exceed any sort of benefit they think they derive from it. This is why the information front to this war is so important. I don't know if "killing more of them" is the answer, but those responsible for these morally depraved tactics should be held accountable in some fashion or other. A war crimes tribunal for the Hezbollah leaders would be one idea.

You actually hope for people to go to hell?

So I should hope they get their 72 virgins after they've come to Allah?

Under the law, criminals who use human shields are responsible for the deaths of their shields, even if the bullets that kill them come from policemen's guns.

Charles, as has been pointed out several times, responsibility needn't be zero-sum.

Also, I don't see how article 29 helps your case either.

A war crimes tribunal for the Hezbollah leaders would be one idea.

Held by whom? Are you suddenly approving of the ICC? If so, great! I agree.

You actually hope for people to go to hell?

So I should hope they get their 72 virgins after they've come to Allah?

Well, someone who professed to follow Jesus might hope that they repent and are saved. (Some denominations believe this is possible even after physical death.) I don't expect you to actually answer the question, though; it's merely revealing.

To stop Hezbollah from using civilians as human shields, Phil, all I'm saying is that the cost to them should exceed any sort of benefit they think they derive from it. This is why the information front to this war is so important., it isn't for

But everything you've endorsed seems mostly mmataimed at the civilian population of Lebanon.

Moral concerns aside, the current Israeli operation in Lebanon is a public relations disaster for Israel -- just as Hezbollah wanted it to be. Issuing more sternly-worded memos will not change that. Bombing more ambulances won't, either.

So I should hope they get their 72 virgins after they've come to Allah?

A Christian might point out to you that your "hopes" in this regard are utterly irrelevant. Whatever fate befalls their souls ain't up to you.

And, by "mmataimed," I meant "aimed." Sorry.

Charles, Dershowitz is indeed *such* an extreme partisan in this debate, and so utterly morally depraved himself (see e.g. "torture warrants"), that I trust nothing he says about Hamas, Hezbollah, or the law. In any case, a policeman who sees a criminal using a human shield and doesn't take every possible step to try and find a way to apprehend the criminal without harming the civilian is certainly morally responsible for the death of the civilian, and if he/she isn't in fact legally responsible, that's a defect in the law.

Again, you are of course correct that Hezbollah is a nasty and immoral organization. The false inference is that therefore Israel must hold the moral high ground despite its careless killing of civilians. The alternative you're missing is that this war is, like a large majority of all wars, essentially one gang of criminal thugs fighting another. Doesn't mean that one gang can't be less bad than the other; Israel is clearly the less bad gang here; but they're both pretty damn bad, and neither should be surprised or affronted by the condemnation they receive.

Israel is clearly the less bad gang here; but they're both pretty damn bad

Why is that such a difficult concept for so many people? I really think we're hardwired for the disjunctive syllogism.

I really think we're hardwired for the disjunctive syllogism.

I don't think that's quite right; I think it's so damn useful for progandists (in which category I include good ol' fashion corporate advertising) that we end up absorbing it at far too deep a level. It can be hacked out but it takes a hell of a lot of work.

I don't think that's quite right; I think it's so damn useful for progandists (in which category I include good ol' fashion corporate advertising) that we end up absorbing it at far too deep a level.

Really? I was thinking it was connected to "binary thinking," which the Pythagoreans were trying to codify way back in the day. Of course, early religion may just be early propaganda, but it seems to me it must be appealing to something pretty basic.

Maybe if we raise a few bloggers on desert islands, we can find out the answer.

I don't know if it's hardwired--I kinda think it is. (Being Christian I'd say it's part of being sinful.) But I think the Israelis and the Shiites who cheer for Hezbollah and the Palestinians who cheer their suicide bombers are all manifesting the same narcissistic tendencies you see in people whenever there's a war. For months after 9/11, you could hardly mention the thought that American foreign policy might have had anything to do with 9/11 or that we had done some pretty bad things ourselves--if you did, you were accused of saying that the people who died "had it coming"

But I also think you can go against your wiring--you can hack it out, as Anarch says. You can also do what some misguided lefties do, leave it in place and just switch the labels on who is good and who is bad.

BTW, on the topic of hell, no serious Christian who believes the place exists or might exist should be wishing anyone would go there--it's the kind of chestpounding thing you hear people saying in the movies all the time, just as the villain is about to die in some spectacular way (yes, I watch such movies), but if you take the traditional theology seriously (whether Catholic or Calvinist or something else), it's the height of presumption for one sinner to be wishing that another be eternally damned. To take an example from fantasy, nobody gloats when Saruman dies and is rejected by the Valar. One of the disgusting things about the Peter Jackson movie ROTK (which I mostly liked) is how people cheered in the theater when Denethor died--they were bringing their Bruce Willis Diehard sensibilities to the wrong story. (Partly Jackson's fault.)

I know conservative Christians whose political views on Lebanon are identical to those of Charles. I've never heard any of them ever wish that someone would go to hell. Not once. I can't imagine them saying it.

One of the disgusting things about the Peter Jackson movie ROTK (which I mostly liked) is how people cheered in the theater when Denethor died--they were bringing their Bruce Willis Diehard sensibilities to the wrong story. (Partly Jackson's fault.)

ALL his fault. Denethor in the book resembles Aragorn so much, Pippin initially thinks that's who he is. He's a tragic figure, not a boorish buffoon. All 3 films suck, but ROTK is the worst by far. What a terrible waste of resources.

You can also do what some misguided lefties do, leave it in place and just switch the labels on who is good and who is bad.

Slave morality at work. The Genealogy of Morals should be required reading in high school.

And of course you're right about Christians & hell; I think Christians are obliged to hope that no one will ever be condemned to hell, and that it won't be permanent if they are. (Hell's existence is a great mystery, as Dante's proposed gate-inscription suggests.) Note that I speak as a self-proclamed bad Christian.

I've never been able to figure out Hell - or Heaven, for that matter.

Condemning someone to an eternity of torture seems so disproportionate as to be morally vacuous, no matter what sins they committed. Esp. when you think that Hell is supposedly the punishment for masturbation or adultery as well as for mass murder or genocide. I'm not sure what the point is supposed to be.

And Heaven also makes no sense. Whether it's a bunch of angels sitting on clouds singing or "gazing on the naked face of God," the usual descriptions of Heaven make me think of what Rita Rudner said about childbirth: "I don't even want to do something that feels good for 18 hours." Mormonism strikes me as a silly religion in a lot of ways, but at least their version of Heaven involves actually doing something meaningful and interesting.

I've never understood hell either. I think it's probably had a bad influence in history in some ways--if you believe in hell then why not torture people in this life? And it's a short step to saying the heresy is the worst of crimes and that heretics should be persecuted, since heresy sends people to hell. Of course there are pacifist Christians who believe in the traditional version of hell, so it's not as simple as I'm tempted to make it. Jesus talks about hell a lot, so that makes it difficult for me. I might read Nietzsche someday, but doubt it will matter to me much what he says.

Probably this belongs in the open thread, but Jackson's ROTK was the worst of the three. The first film was great, I thought. Some of Jackson's cheapening started to weaken the story (IMO) in the second film. (Tolkien's Ents are not stupid and Legolas doesn't skateboard in the book.) The third film--well, you're right. What Jackson did to Denethor's character ruined that part of the film for me. I was looking for a truly great man brought down by hubris and Jackson gives us a medieval version of George Bush.

"A war crimes tribunal for the Hezbollah leaders would be one idea.

Held by whom? Are you suddenly approving of the ICC? If so, great! I agree."

Since no one is going to arrest Hezbollah members I rather think it is a waste of time.

Since no one is going to arrest Hezbollah members I rather think it is a waste of time.

What? Haven't the Israelis claimed to have taken numerous Hezbollah prisoners? Half a dozen just today, no?

I suppose it's damned unlikely that Israel will turn them over to the ICC. But a "waste of time" it clearly was not. Unless you're saying something about the Israeli operation as a whole ...

The UN peacekeepers were brave past my imagining. Probably the UN should have withdrawn them when it became clear they were being used as shields.

"I suppose it's damned unlikely that Israel will turn them over to the ICC. But a "waste of time" it clearly was not."

I believe you were proposing as an alternative to making war against Hezbollah, not an after-effect. Was I incorrect about that? Do you forsee a case where Hezbollah members turn themselves in to the ICC without fighting? Do you forsee a third party picking them up?

I don't understand the UNIFIL mandate. When they were actively being used as shields for Hezbollah were they really not allowed to shoot at the Hezbollah members?

Probably the UN should have withdrawn them when it became clear they were being used as shields.

An e-mail written nine days before the strike isn't particularly useful evidence as to the situation on the day. In any case, if the IDF was hindered by UNIFIL's presence they could simply have notified them that their position was now a target and given them an opportunity to get out.

Sebastian, were you really under the impression that UNIFIL has authority to open fire on the belligerents? Do you expect them to take on Hezbollah while under fire from the IDF?

I don't understand the UNIFIL mandate. When they were actively being used as shields for Hezbollah were they really not allowed to shoot at the Hezbollah members?

When being shelled by the IDF is UNIFIL allowed to shoot back in self-defense?


The UN peacekeepers were brave past my imagining. Probably the UN should have withdrawn them when it became clear they were being used as shields.

Nice choice of words. If the IDF was aware that the peacekeepers were being used as shields it should have warned them to evacuate their post before killing them.

Sebastian:

I believe you were proposing as an alternative to making war against Hezbollah, not an after-effect. Was I incorrect about that? Do you forsee a case where Hezbollah members turn themselves in to the ICC without fighting? Do you forsee a third party picking them up?

I confess that I have no idea what this paragraph means. You said nobody would be willing to arrest Hezbollah members, I responded that the IDF now had several in custody. Did I suggest that Hezbollah members would turn themselves into the ICC? Hmmm ... no, I did not.

On the other hand, in re the hell thing, it did give us Sam Jackson's memorable movie line, "Yes, they deserved to die and I hope they burn in hell!" Especially great as interpreted by Dave Chappelle in the commercial for Samuel Jackson Beer.

Certainly one of the things that has made hell more bearable has been the reanalysis of hell as simply a place where all of one's desires are frustrated and reimagining hell in works like No Exit or Waiting for Godot. Alas, this will probably be taken as another instance of liberal nihilism.

The first error is in thinking that the rules of war are interested in the underlying justice claims of the combatants.

Oh dear.

Sebastian, I think you'll find that there's a long tradition of thinking about just war, and that it has two components jus ad bellum and jus in bello. You are quite correct to say that jus in bello doesn't address (and rightly so) the justice claims of the combatants. Did I (or Rodin) say that it should? No.

So what was the interaction between jus ad bellum and jus in bello? Simply this, that whilst jib doesn't address the justice claims of the combatants, jab says that a war cannot be fought justly if it can only be fought be flouting the jib restrictions.

The problem is then this, that we may sometimes think that peoples/irregulars/guerillas have a right to violent armed resistance against injustice. (Note, Sebastian, we don't have to agree with one another about our judgements of the justice of particular cases, you and I just have to agree that there may be some such. French resistance? Polish underground? You get the picture.) But jus ad bellum says that they have no such right because of the just means restriction: it says that they may not fight a war because their only means of doing so are unjust means.

Rodin's proposal (which I don't endorse btw, just thought it was interesting enough to blog about) is one you are at liberty to reject. But not that it too does not involve taking a view about the justice of either of the causes in a particular conflict. All it says is that jib restrictions should be applied with special stringency to forces of a particular type (regular armed forced).

If the terrorists are firing missiles from orphanages and hospitals and using UNAFIL units as shields it should be relatively trivial for Israel to document this. Some actual evidence would do wonders for convincing the world.

It's very simple: people fighting colonialism, foreign invasion or foreign domination are entitled to use pretty much any means available to them. Whatever means they find appropriate: mixing with civilians, targeting civilians, whatever it is, it's all the responsibility of the oppressor, not the victim.

I think if we accepted this simple rule, the world would be a better place - and more logical too.

people fighting colonialism, foreign invasion or foreign domination are entitled to use pretty much any means available to them.

I hope that was intended as a sarcastic rejoinder to the idea that if we bomb a hospital because there are enemy in it we're absolved of all responsibility. Because the idea that anyone can be absolved of responsibility for their actions based on what someone else has done is morally repellent.

Not to me, to me it's not repellent. Try to invade my house and to kill or enslave me - and you'll see. I'm not going to be thinking about following any rules for one second.

Well, abb1, let's get specific. I have little doubt you'll agree that the Viet Cong were fighting colonialism etc., hence they were covered by your principle.

Among the methods they found appropriate for ensuring that Vietnamese women didn't fraternise with the enemy were torture and gang rape, followed by execution.

If I understand you correctly that's fine by you?

Modern asymmetric warfare is about turning the rules of non-combatant immunity and proportionality on their heads. Guerrillas tend to target civilians and civilian objects.

I was going to comment how this is naively wrong, but others beat me to it.

Since most of the post is built around this flawed premise, the reasoning just wanders down a blind alley.

Sometimes guerillas engage in terror against civilians -- it is a sure fire path to failure for most such guerillas, who failed to read Mao's little book about how to properly operate a guerilla action within the populace from whom they seek to gain favor. Or they are attacking the enemies' civilians -- something that has unfortunately become fair game even for state actors (WWII bombing for example). So much for the rules of war.

Funny how this posts seems to forget that what started the current Arab-Israeli war was an attack by irregular forces on the Israeli military, resulting in the deaths and capture of soldiers. That was so irregular of them -- they forgot to read this post first.

One interesting but depressing suggestion is that if Hezbollah cannot be dealt with soon, the IDF will have to have a spin off a similarly unaccountable militia group to fight it.

You mean Negraponte death squads? Already been tried. Has nasty blowback.

Modern asymmetric warfare is about turning the rules of non-combatant immunity and proportionality on their heads. Guerrillas tend to target civilians and civilian objects.

The real point here is that this is the terrorist's formula -- something quite different from guerrilla movements (although terrorism may be one tactic of the guerrilla movement). Terrorism and asymmetric warfare are not the same thing, and conflating the two is the error.

Kevin, it's not fine with me personally, but if this was indeed their policy, it was their call to make, their judgement.

See, I have never been inside the skin of a Vietnamese in 1968 or a Palestinian in 2001. Their experiences just gotta be so far from anything I have experienced in my life or have seen around me or, in fact, anything I can realistically imagine - that I absolutely refuse to judge them.

Ask me about an office situation and I may be able to judge there, but humans generally have no ability to predict their own behavior in critical situations and therefore, it seems to me, shouldn't judge others.

As far as women sleeping with the enemy, didn't the French execute a bunch of them after the WWII as well? They didn't physically torture or rape them, of course, but that was after the war. Apparently there is some very strong psychological force at work here.

abb1,

I'm not asking you to judge anybody.

You advocate acceptance of the principle that "people fighting colonialism, foreign invasion or foreign domination are entitled to use pretty much any means available to them".

My response is that this is not a good principle. "Judge not and ye shall not be judged" is a respectable principle, but a very different one.

I'm not asking you to judge anybody.

I think you are; you asked me if torture and gang rape followed by execution for women fraternising with the enemy was acceptable in Vietnam, didn't you?

There are limits, of course, yes, sure, there are limits to everything. But the initial assumpting should be biased towards the weak, oppressed side, that's what I'm trying to say, I guess.

When one wants to argue that they crossed the line - he would have to convince me, he has the burden of proof.

Chris, you write: "Sebastian, I think you'll find that there's a long tradition of thinking about just war, and that it has two components jus ad bellum and jus in bello. You are quite correct to say that jus in bello doesn't address (and rightly so) the justice claims of the combatants. Did I (or Rodin) say that it should? No."

You had previously written:

Of course the reason people don’t line up to be shot at, wearing proper uniforms, distinguishing themselves from the civilian population, and so on, is that it would be suicidal so to do. And here lies a real difficulty for conventional just war theory. If recourse to war is sometimes just—and just war theory says it is—but it may only be justly fought within the jus in bello restrictions, then it looks as if an important means to pursue justice is open to the strong alone and not to the weak.

and then you write in the comment to me:

The problem is then this, that we may sometimes think that peoples/irregulars/guerillas have a right to violent armed resistance against injustice. (Note, Sebastian, we don't have to agree with one another about our judgements of the justice of particular cases, you and I just have to agree that there may be some such. French resistance? Polish underground? You get the picture.) But jus ad bellum says that they have no such right because of the just means restriction: it says that they may not fight a war because their only means of doing so are unjust means.

Both of these quotes are calling in to question the current understanding of JIB rules because you feel that they unfairly restrict the ability of some guerillas to pursue what they see as justice.

The fact that certain actors may or may not have just claims has no place in those rules. JIB claims are not designed to make sure that all those with just claims and a right to fight will be successful in using military force to pursue their claims. You agree to that and then immediately try to argue for changes in the rules based on the inability of certain groups to pursue claims using violence. Furthermore you are not asking for general changes to the rules, but rather specific changes in the rules that are designed to help only those actors who you believe aren't able to pursue their justice claims through violence under the current system. In doing so, the certain result is to increase the length of wars--a definite problem for civilians.

We don't make the JIB rules based on tweaking the balance of power of the parties. JIB rules aren't about who wins. Your approach attempts to change that.

"Some actual evidence would do wonders for convincing the world."

That's an optimistic view of things, but not very reality-based.

people fighting colonialism, foreign invasion or foreign domination are entitled to use pretty much any means available to them.

I take it then that since Israel is fighting domination by Hezbollah it is, in your view, "entitled to use pretty much any means available?"

Well, if you can successfully defend this analysis, then sure, why not.

Perhaps a study of Hezbollah's policy statements would do the trick.

Or do you suggest that it's only after you've been invaded, etc., that your right of self-defense expands? Stated intentions, backed by concrete actions, don't count?

Sebastian- Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but it seems to me that what you are saying hurts your case rather than helps it.

I don't have any real problem with the idea you seem to be advancing; that guerillas are necissarily war criminals. The thing is that while some few might view that fact as so much the worse for resistance movements, most people will see it as so much the worse for the laws of war.

Bernard, I'll admit that the current Hezbollah/Israel conflict is not exactly a cut and dry case (that's taking the Hezbollah/Israel conflict separate from the current Israel/Lebanon conflict).

I tend to view Israel as a colonial enterprise rejected and intensely hated by a vast majority of the indigenous population in the region. It's true that Hezbollah exists outside Israel (except for those Sheba farms), so they can't exactly claim the 'national liberation' status. However, if you consider Hezbollah a part of the wider anti-colonial movement in the region, then it can easily be viewed as national liberation movement.

Notice that apparently even most of the Israel Arabs (Israeli citizens), and even in the North where the rockets are falling, support Hezbollah: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743227.html

That's a powerful testimonial.

One of my grandfathers served during the Spanish-American War and would often dramatically lament the loss of courage and manhood during wartime, wherein, he would fulminate, a man looked another man in the eye and then killed him.

I would probably die of fright, hopefully in a hedgerow. Though I would certainly be talking real tough right up until push came to bullet time. Actually, I prefer the John Wayne method, whereby you look the guy other guy right in the eye, then turn as if you're going back to the bar to finish your drink, and then kill him. It's sneaky, but jaunty.

In fact, I think submarines, high altitude bombing, guided missile systems, machine gun nests, camoflage, stealth aircraft technology, satellite lasers, robotic technology, and bunkers, especially that cave in Colorado Springs, are the rational way out for a tough guy like me who likes the idea of wearing a clearly marked uniform, you know, as long as I can hide from the enemy. The less he can see of my clearly marked uniform -- the better.

The only time I would wear my clearly marked uniform would be when I go into town to pick up girls. Actually, I would borrow an officer's uniform for that.

In fact, I want to wear a clearly marked uniform with lots of medals and high rank stripes on it and watch other guys in less fully-adorned but neveretheless clearly marked uniforms through laser binoculars go at it. Putting faceblack on at night for those after-hours forays into enemy territory, while it might seem a little cowardly, is wholly rational behavior. And flanking maneuvers. You can't get enough of those.

And ducking. I never forget to duck.

Hiding behind women and children to shoot at the other guys does seem a little shameful, but nevertheless rational.

I mean, I look down on that guy in the old Clifton Webb Titanic movie who donned a dress and a babushka to sneak on to the lifeboat with the women and children.
Not a brave thing, that, but entirely rational. When you compare it to standing on deck as the icy waters close around your only available breathing holes.

Were I a woman or a child viewing that scene from a lifeboat, a little part of me would thank my Aunt Betty that I happen to be a woman or a child at that particular time and not a guy in a tuxedo with stoical manners, who manages to finish his cigar and martini just before swimming with the fishes. He gave his life for us ... now row, for God's sake.

It would seem that rational, fair rules of engagement would involve nothing more harmful than say, a quick game of paintball, or perhaps throwing some dice, two out of three, all in full sight and clearly marked. We could wear hockey uniforms and call it manhood.

Or, perhaps, tapping on a keyboard and hitting the send button.

And then we could call it a day. Here's to Falstaff.


Abb1: Hezbollah was originally a national liberation movement of sorts, designed to liberate southern Lebanon from Israel. Ever since Israel withdrew, it has been functioning as a combination of a decent social service provider and a military wing casting about for a reason for existence. It is not part of the Palestinian struggle, though it is trying to glom onto it. But this doesn't make it a part of that movement, any more than, say, the Weather Underground was a movement of national liberation on account of its opposition to the Vietnam war.

Sebastian,

I suggest that you read Rodin's article, which contains some interesting discussion of the way in which metaphors involving games and tacit appeals to fairness do in fact infect the just war literature.

Hilzoy,
I think the Weathermen certainly can be considered a part of the anti-war and civil rights movement. We don't get to pick and choose here, every movement has its moderates and its radicals.

As far as Hezbollah goes, again, I agree, if you look real close so that you can see all the little details, borders, etc. - then they don't belong, but if you move far enough so that you can see demonstrations in Cairo, refugee camps in Syria, etc. - then they can certainly be considered a part of it.

But, yeah, like I said: it's not cut and dried.

abb1: it was certainly part of the antiwar movement. But what I meant was: it was not in virtue of that fact part of the Vietnamese struggle for national liberation (e.g., the Viet Cong/Viet Minh.) And that's the analogy to saying that Hezbollah is part of the Palestinian struggle for national liberation.

OK, fair enough.

Civilian, in the suburbs, ten minutes after he hears the nuke sirens going off: "Can I hide in the cave in Colorado Springs?"

Soldier, in clearly marked uniform, guarding cave in Colorado Springs, speaking from a microphone under 6 trillion tons of concrete reinforced by Pike's Peak: "Sir, step away from the cave. You are not wearing a clearly marked uniform, which disqualifies you from entering the cave from where we, who protect those who do not wear clearly marked uniforms, hide from those who want to kill people wearing marked uniforms."

Civilian: "O.K. Where should I hide"

Soldier: "Because you are not wearing a clearly marked uniform, you must hide under your school desk. If you do not have a school desk at your disposal, repair to your basement and hide with your wife and children."

Civilian: "You mean with the women and children?"

Soldier: (there is a pause) "Do they have clearly marked uniforms? If they don't, hide next to them, not under them. Fair is fair."

Civilian: "Uh, no. You know, this whole thing is just a little assymetrical for my taste. I'd just like to note that. By the way, may I borrow a clearly marked unifrom so I can hide the fact that I'm wearing a clearly marked uniform.

Soldier: "No! That would violate the clearly marked uniform code regarding civilians posing as clearly marked military personnel. Your concerns are duly noted. Now please move along."

Ah, yes John. Hezbollah is protecting the civilians. How could I have failed to notice that one?

Chris, what is the individual title of the article?

If the idea of "ends justifies the means" has entered the jus in bello discussion, perhaps it would be better to quash it rather than embrace it.

Sebastian, read again.

I'm not raging at you. I'm raging at the gods.

You apply rational discourse, to your credit, and I apply some amateur absurdist theater. Parse it either way, but what we've got here is a whole pile of dead civilians.

And that is accomplished by Hezbollah, the fuckers. And regarded as a clarifying moment by others.

It's got nothing to do with you.

Sebastian, it's "The ethics of asymmetric war". I haven't gotten it (and probably won't), but I did google this up when it appeared on CT

http://www.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/Staff/

and there are a PDF detailing his research program. Interesting stuff (he applies a Rawlsian thought experiment to untangle some questions about JIB asymmetry), though a bit above my pay grade.

And if you are reading John Thullen as defending Hezbollah, what we got heah is ah failyah ta camyunicate...

I think it is illuminating that this week Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of the attack on the King David hotel with a.o. a placque.

The original wording had presented as fact the IZL's claim that people died because the British ignored the warning calls.

"Warning phone calls had been made, urging the hotel's occupants to leave immediately. For reasons known only to the British, the hotel was not evacuated," it read.

But the British authorities still deny that they were ever warned and, even if they were, Ambassador Simon McDonald and Consul Dr. John Jenkins wrote in a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, "This does not absolve those who planted the bomb from responsibility for their deaths.

To prevent a diplomatic incident, and over the objections of MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud), who brought the matter up in the Knesset, the text was changed - especially in the English version.

In English, the text now reads, "Warning phone calls has [sic] been made to the hotel, The Palestine Post and the French Consulate, urging the hotel's occupants to leave immediately. The hotel was not evacuated and after 25 minutes the bombs exploded… to the Irgun's regret, 92 persons were killed."
The count of 92 includes Avraham Abramovitz, the IZL fighter who was killed inside the hotel. But only the Hebrew version makes that clear.

"I don't care about the English," said Yael. "I only care about the Hebrew, because that's our language. And the Hebrew tells the truth."


Sebastian, the title was in my original post. I'm afraid I clearly lack the talent to write in a way that you understand, but I'm not at all clear why you think "the ends justifies the means" has anything to do with what I (or Rodin) think on this matter.

"Sebastian, the title was in my original post."

Ah, yes I saw the book title, and had forgotten that you later mentioned the essay title.

"but I'm not at all clear why you think "the ends justifies the means" has anything to do with what I (or Rodin) think on this matter."

I think that because the entire argument is based on the premise that it just isn't fair that a weak but 'just' cause can't fight under the current rules without losing. You, and Rodin, both apparently think that the end (letting 'just' but weak casuses fight) justifies the means (applying the rules asymmetricaly to the different parties).

I argue that jus in bello rules aren't tilting one way or another who wins. Generally the stronger party will win. The proposed rule changes simply make that take much longer--having a probably counterproductive effect on the rules of war as long conflicts tend to see the rules break down.

In short--applying rules unevenly based on the idea that a more just party can't thrive under an even application of the rules--is 'ends justfies the means' thinking.

"what we got heah is a failyah ta camyunicate."

I'll take the blame for that. I shouldn't blog while wearing reflective sunglasses.
They make me look like I mean business.

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