Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Thought on Proportionality

A fellow called Gavin left a comment here, and it includes something I admit to not having thought of, though it's quite obvious once he said it:
Here's the problem. Israel has already responded to those rocket attacks, one assumes proportionately. They've been retaliating to Hamas rocket attacks throughout the entire 5-8 yr history of them. Now if Israel has already responded to the rocket attacks with proportionate force, which they have done, then by Cole & his tame lawyers logic Israel can't even (legally) retaliate or attack at all. Have I missed something or are these legal buffs with big letters after their names just showing themselves up as buffoons?
Yup. 8 years of proportionality, and nary once a pat on the back from Juan Cole for our being so nice.


Anonymous said...


"Proportionality" is a bogus argument. It's like saying to a man whose leg just got cut off; "but, gee, your cancer tumor was so small no one saw it on your leg."

It's a bogus argument that comes from the UN. If you think it's caught on? What can I tell ya. It's about as popular in America, as Bush.

Not that most of you see any trouble, yet, with Dubya. (Only that it's there.)

Sort'a like Nixon. I can tell you that Nixon was an antisemite; and you can say "I have no proof of that." WRONG. I've heard Nixon's voice on the recorded Oval Office tapes. Nixon was an antisemite. Who began to worry, when Israel was attacked in October 1973; (and Golda didn't expect it) ... that he'd make his administration "look silly" if Israel's demise happened on his watch.

So the key? Israel can't be gone on any particular American president's watch. But that doesn't stop the mischief!

While most Americans, still could care less about europeans. Yup. Believe it or not. Americans are still ISOLATIONISTS, for the most part.

How will Obama do?

He's a student of FDR's. And, right now, right this minute, I'm reading: THE DEFINING MOMENT. It's written by Jonathan Alter. And, it's a historian's view of FDR's FIRST HUNDRED DAYS.

What do I know about FDR? (Well, I'm well read enough to know that besides his legs, he managed to keep his tongue paralyzed, while other people did most of the talking.)

Obama is a student of FDR!

FDR's PERSONALITY is what made him famous. (And, nobody could catch what he was thinking, because he told no one who made a record. He probably talked, in depth to HOWE, who was a terrific friend of his. But other than that? All you have is the story that came out in CHRISTMAS 1941, when Winston went to the White House for 3 weeks of secret meetings. While these two men put their action plans on the table.)

Winston came to America sure that he could convince FDR to "go back to the alliance between England and America, that our FOUNDING FATHERS BROKE APART.

Sure. The picture was painted of a "friendship." But Churchill had no luck in this department. Still, he was articulate. And, in one side-trip to Thomas Jefferson's house in Montecello; Winston was talking away ... while both Eleanor and Franklin sat in the car. For the ride, there.

After about seven minutes of listening to Churchill, Eleanor (who didn't like him all that much), piped up:

"Winston. Just because Franklin keeps saying "yes, yes, yes," doesn't mean he's agreeing with you. ONLY THAT HE'S LISTENING!"

It's been told that all great politicians possess such an art! You can't read them. But you can come away feeling "blessed" that your propositions have won the light of day.

Nothing is further from the truth.

As to Dubya? America has survived Jimmy Carter.

And, from Jimmy Carter, onward, the saud's have thought they've bought each and every American president! Well, they've got receipts. They've spent the money.

But do they have results?

Sure, imbedded in America's military are real haters of Israel. I'd bet most of the navy is this way! (Hence, the Liberty, and it's mischief, never got told straight. But LBJ was the president, then. And, he was booted back to Texas. His reputation in tatters. But the story, in this regard, untold.)

Why? Well, in June 1967, Israel successfully accomplished military gains against an array of arab armies. That story was told as a success story! BY HOLLYWOOD STANDARDS.

While LBJ? Who knows? He could have participated in JFK's assassination plans. My cousin just told me a new book ALSO blames the elder bush, George Herbert Walker, for having been not just involved. But an instigator. (Well? His father was a known antisemite. In the senate. During the 1930's.)

Sometimes? You've got to read a lot to see the stories.

What did I make of my cousin's recent remark? I haven't read the book.

On the other hand, the military doesn't run America! And, Obama is up next.

And, as I said, I'm reading about FDR's first 100 days. Because they were so successful! Hand Herbert Hoover was such a lout!

In a Republic you don't have mob rule! You get to elect representatives. They then become the politicians. Certainly, a mixed bag. But the aims of most men is to be thought of as excellent.

Not that I expect the winnahs to show up in headlines either at the NY Times, or the Jerusalem Post.

Don't be afraid to think outside the box.

The saud's didn't get the real estate they thought they paid for! They're NOT the new "Ottoman Empire." Dubya just dug an expensive dry well. Do tell.

Well? Some historian, some day, will.

Anonymous said...

Gavin fails to understand proportionality.

Proportionality is about doing the minimum necessary to accomplish the military objective, and not, for example, doing a Dresden style firebombing of Gaza in response to one rocket attack.

During the last 3 years, Israel's attacks were nearly always so restricted that they were NOT STRONG ENOUGH to accomplish the objective (stopping the rockets).

The main exceptions were targeted assassinations of HAMAS leaders, which proved to be pretty effective at scaring HAMAS leaders into pressing for ceasefires and lulls.


Anonymous said...


Yup. Slaughter House 5 was written by an American soldier, who was a prisoner of war. IN DRESDEN. When it was fire-bombed. Kurt Vonnegut (one of my favorites!)

Doesn't mean I didn't see the bigger pictures. This includes that Kurt Vonnegut had no sympathy for the Brits. And, what happened during the BLITZ.

It was left to Winston Churchill to argue the need to "show the German People" that the BLITZ had a price tag. And, that's why Dresden got reduced to rubble.

Sure, it takes a good understanding of european history. Sorry, most people are just clueless.

But europeans have been fighting wars for a very long time! How did that slip under the rug? Heck, when we had the American Civil War, they had the Crimean War. And, if anything, the death tolls were far beyond the carnage, here. And, for the europeans? That was the way it was! Bismarck was no panty-waist, if you get my drift. Either.

So there you have it. For the 20th Century you got WW1 and WW2. Between them, because of the carnage of WW1, a great pacifist movement began. Even Einstein was against more wars!

This is when the europeans bought the shovel (1932), and decided to let hitler fester. Instead of "taking care of business, early."

By the time England did get involved, it was really a question of survival! Hence, the BLITZ. Which was how hitler introduced himself to the British People. (While the french couldn't get into bed with hitler, fast enough.)

Hamas ain't hitler!

And, the saud's have been unable to fund anymore real estate. After they did, in fact, fund Dubya's race back in 2000. They then funded 9/11.

Bandar thought he was so welcomed in by Bush, too! Because on 9/12, with all air traffic in America forbidden. And, jets flying overhead. Bandar got special privileges. And, the saud's were able to escape. Flights out of three airports, I think. New York, and Texas. And, maybe, DC. All because Bandar asked. And, Bush said "yes."

They have said Bush is a great poker player. But in my book he plays deuces as if they're aces. And, he's been playing to GET a goal for the saud's. Who thought they'd be the new Ottoman empire.

Saddens me that Israelis can't see this. But if Olmert wasn't in charge in 2006, you'd now have Assad dead. Just like Saddam is dead. And, syria (with so many sunni within its population), would have become a satellite of saudi arabia.

Imagine, now, if you will, what Hamas would have had, if Assad wasn't still playing ... and messing up saudi plans!

Egypt will be very happy to remain a player. This is true in Jordan, too.

And, Dubya's about out the door.

Even if I'm the only human alive who thinks so; I think Dubya's unconscionable defense of Condi, was a huge error! You have to really hate Jews not to see this.

But open the door!

So many of our super duper rich kids are brought up in homes with long records of antisemitism, it amazes me that it escapes notice.

Even so, the elder Bush doesn't have much of a record, either. And, Jimmy Carter is a JOKE!

Obama doesn't want to be a joke.

So don't assume the arabs get the gifts Dubya couldn't deliver.

The Lebanon War in 2006 didn't lead to anything in the literature.

But Gaza, now? It has that potential.

Or as I wrote to my son the computer programmer; just wait. This mishigas translates into a video game easily. (And, then I included the little gem that ran in Ha'aretz. Someone's already provided a great cartoon.)

Sometimes? It's just a matter of time.

Just as there are women who know, almost to the day when they get pregnant; it can take at least 3 months just to have a "little bit of a body change," to show. And, then the whole nine months begins to feel like years. (So, you just gotta wait.)

As good as Kurt Vonnegut was, he's not read so much, anymore.

One of the things that changed. People don't read. Except on the Internet.

Bet'cha, sooner or later, the dialog about what's going on now, will start in earnest.

Gavin said...

Zvi. I understand it quite well, not least because I read Yaacov's discourse on it.

I think Yaacov picked up where my reasoning led to, so I won't expand on it. I was just using Israel's critics arguments against them. The logic behind their legal argument makes their own statements false. Gavin.

adam d. said...

In any case, what is left out of these considerations is that Israel is responding to a risk more than to a reality. Whoever says that the reality of Hamas rockets is not that bad compared to what is happening in Gaza now certainly has a point, but it's a point that completely overlooks the fact that Hamas is steadily increasing the range of their rockets and that the payload of these rockets can never be predicted.

Israel is not really 'responding' to the last 8 years of rocket attacks, it is responding the unacceptable risk of a single long range rocket with a biological payload in a major Israeli city.

This is also where Thomas Friedman misses the point. The 'education' of Hamas is irrelevant, and of course the eradication of Hamas is impossible. His whole range or considerations is a collection of meaningless straw men. What is meaningful is to act against the Hamas weapons infrastructure in all its forms, a simple and concrete goal the achievement of which is wholly proportional to the risk that those weapons pose to Israelis.