OK, so I have more to say about the war, after all…
Several days into the fighting, the Israeli Foreign Minister addressed the principle of “proportionality.” She said that the judgment of whether a state’s military retaliation was justified or not had to be based on proportionality to the threat faced by the state.
But this misses the point. In fact, the actions would not even pass the Foreign Minister’s test, as Israel fought this as though it was facing a conventional state enemy in Lebanon, while at the same protesting that it wanted that very state to come to its–Israel’s–aid in fighting what it called simply a terror threat. In other words, the justification, like the strategy, was schizophrenic.
The enemy Israel is facing is more the armed militia of a political party and religious social movement than it is a terrorist organization. And it certainly is not the state of Lebanon or its people, writ large.
The real test is–or should be–whether the actions can be justified by some plausible political outcome at the end of the fighting–the Clausewitzian principle in which military operations are the continuation of politics by other means.
I have never, from the beginning of this war, seen how Israel’s stated aims could be achieved through its miliary actions. Is Israel going to emerge from this safer? Is the larger region going to be more stable? Will Lebanon’s halting political and economic progress be advanced? Will Hezbollah be less popular among the 40% of the Lebanese population that is Shia? Are the plausible political gains worth the civilian carnage and turning as much as 20% of Lebanon’s civilian population into refugees?
I can’t see how anyone can say that a massive aerial assault on Lebanon, including much of its civil infrastructure, and a depopulation of wide areas of the country, could be thought to be a step towards any reasonably achievable political goal.
In that sense, Olmert’s war is grossly out of proportion to the political gains.
More–much more–on these general themes from Arms and Influence.