American and European liberals are of course complaining about Israel's attempt to root out the terrorists in Gaza. The response is "disproportional", they say.
But while that implicitly acknowledges that Israel is defending itself (being in response to mortar attacks by Palestinians against civilian Israeli targets), it also presupposes that a response must be proportional. Why?
War is not about fairness. War is about defeating the enemy so thoroughly that he gives up and admits he was wrong to attack you in the first place. It's about discrediting him with a giant argumentum ad baculum, the appeal to force, because none of your valid arguments appear to work. Like all such appeals, it must be accompanied by the valid arguments or it will not prevail.
Because while the appeal to force and its direct application in the form of military attack is not a reasoned argument, it is not an invalidating one. That is, the application of force doesn't mean the side using it disproves its point; it simply doesn't prove it.
In practical terms, the use of force will fail as long as the opponent fails to internalize defeat. If reason is on his side, he will fail to be defeated, no matter how badly he's beaten on the battlefield.
The true danger therefor in the use of force is not using enough to win. And when the opponent is using it, not using force is a sign that you don't believe in your own position.
It's been said before but it is worth repeating a thousand times: if Hamas, Hezbollah, and most of the Arab states (and Iran) laid down their weapons tomorrow and forgot about their plans to dissolve Israel, there would be peace in the Middle East. The Israelis could forget about the fences and the Palestinians might one day have something approximating a Western standard of living. On the other hand, if Israel laid down its weapons tomorrow, the country would be utterly annihilated, the Israelis killed to the last man, woman, and child.
- Gabriel Malor
Update (20081229 0848): Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs does a more thorough job of defeating "proportionality":
To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.
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