[Reader-list] Disproportion and the Justification of War

aasim khan aasim27 at yahoo.co.in
Thu Aug 3 21:37:16 IST 2006

Well I see some genuine concern on Iram's part...and
feel a bit unnnerved by the way it got dismissed...

Well ofcourse I and everyone else here does understand
the meaning of 'disproportionate'...And I will not
dismiss her suggestion in the way someone has done

Like disproportionate amounts of food can cause high
cholestrol or disproportionate amount of icecream can
cause obesity.Similarly by saying disproportionate War
it seems the blame is not on the war but on what is
said before it.

I felt the point Iram made was important...by adding
disproporationate to war you are ignoring the idea
that the present war itself is 'unjust'( onother
grounds as well).And here I will refer to something I
found on the Net , on the idea of unjust/Just
Wars...and Israel's war fails on five out of the six
points laid out below to make its war a Just one....

If you read all the points ,'disproportionate' is only
the last thing on making it unjust War .Before it
there are three(maybe more important) points that will
be missed if we jump directly to the last one....

but thats that...I feel the protest to such a
disproportionate war should also be disproportionate
and to begin with lets drop the word from the
headline...What say ...?Atleast we have the intentions
(the first point below) right.


I want to refer here to the idea of what some call the
'Just War'.

. Right intention. A state must intend to fight the
war only for the sake of its just cause. Having the
right reason for launching a war is not enough: the
actual motivation behind the resort to war must also
be morally appropriate. Ulterior motives, such as a
power or land grab, or irrational motives, such as
revenge or ethnic hatred, are ruled out. The only
right intention allowed is to see the just cause for
resorting to war secured and consolidated. If another
intention crowds in, moral corruption sets in.
International law does not include this rule, probably
because of the evidentiary difficulties involved in
determining a state's intent. 

3. Proper authority and public declaration. A state
may go to war only if the decision has been made by
the appropriate authorities, according to the proper
process, and made public, notably to its own citizens
and to the enemy state(s). The “appropriate authority”
is usually specified in that country's constitution.
States failing the requirements of minimal justice
lack the legitimacy to go to war.

4. Last Resort. A state may resort to war only if it
has exhausted all plausible, peaceful alternatives to
resolving the conflict in question, in particular
diplomatic negotiation. One wants to make sure
something as momentous and serious as war is declared
only when it seems the last practical and reasonable
shot at effectively resisting aggression.

5. Probability of Success. A state may not resort to
war if it can foresee that doing so will have no
measurable impact on the situation. The aim here is to
block mass violence which is going to be futile.
International law does not include this requirement,
as it is seen as biased against small, weaker states.

6. Proportionality. A state must, prior to initiating
a war, weigh the universal goods expected to result
from it, such as securing the just cause, against the
universal evils expected to result, notably
casualties. Only if the benefits are proportional to,
or “worth”, the costs may the war action proceed. (The
universal must be stressed, since often in war states
only tally their own expected benefits and costs,
radically discounting those accruing to the enemy and
to any innocent third parties.)

--- Jamie Dow <jamie.dow at pobox.com> wrote:

  It is not an oversight, I think, to include theword
"disproportionate" in the wording of the statement.
On the contrary, the word is extremely well-chosen.

Its inclusion stresses that *regardless of what you
think in generalabout whether wars can be justified*,
there is something morallyscandalous and objectionable
here. I illustrate below.

If you think that no war, even proportionately
conducted, can bejustified, then of course this war is
unjustified. But notice that evenon this view, you
STILL might think that there is something
importantly*worse* about conducting a military
campaign in a disproportionate way.

However, if you think that *some* military action on
Israel's part wasjustified by the activities of
Hezbollah, then it will be somethingabout *how* they
responded militarily that makes their militarycampaign
objectionable. And that's precisely where
disproportion comesin.

The point is that it is not only pacifists, not only
those who arealways or nearly-always opposed to war
that should find Israel'sactions objectionable. The
word "disproportionate" signals that theobjection here
goes beyond a general objection to war. The claim
isthat there is a moral violation here that *everyone*
should object to.

This of course is why the more spineless of our
politicians havebaulked at using the word.

(Incidentally, it is not correct to take the use of
thisword to imply that a proportionate war would be
justified. It does notimply that.)


Jamie Dow
Tel: +44 131 467 2115
Mob: +44 7801 033499
Email: jamie.dow at pobox.com
Web: www.jamiedow.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk

-------- Original Message  --------
Subject: Re:[Reader-list] [Announcements] New Delhi:
Citizens protest   Israel's    disproportionate war
against Lebanon and Gaza
From: <iram at sarai.net>
To: reader-list at sarai.net
Cc: Monica Mody <monica.mody at gmail.com>
Date: 03 August 2006 11:21:37
Dear Monica,Its very commendable to have initiated and
put together a letter of protestagainst the present
situation in Lebanon. However I would request you
andother signatories to rethink the word
'dispropotionate'. Is a propotionatewar justified? -
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a dead child
for adead child, a wounded soldier for another wounded
soldier. It is not and Ihave a feeling that you and
eveyone else who has signed the petition willagree
with me.Yet including the word 'dispropotionate' in
what seems like a carefullyworded call for protest
does not seem like an oversight on the part of
thedrafting team. In fact it reads like a statement of
sorts. Though what'sbeing implied is not very clear to
me. Perhaps someone will shed light onthis, before
Saturday.BestIramOn 9:14:15 am 08/03/06 "Monica Mody"
<monica.mody at gmail.com> wrote:  
[It has been suggested by some of that post-protest,
this letter behanded over to the embassies of Israel,
US and UK, perhaps also theembassies of Lebanon and
Palestine.In the interest of transparency, would also
like to share that therehave been some objections to
the demand for US and UK to be prosecutedfor war
crimes. Just to clarify that these two countries have
beenincluded in the demand as they have provided
logistical support toIsrael's ongoing war in Lebanon
and Gaza, by sending bombs (US) viatheir own airports
(UK) with the knowledge that these are likely tocause
civilian deaths. This is a war crime.As the letter
would be in final form only on Saturday morning, when
wewill print it and carry to the protest, please do
continue to send inyour signatures or to retract
AGAINST LEBANON AND GAZADear friends,We have watched
with horror as Israel's disproportionate use of
forceagainst the citizens of Lebanon and Palestine has
increased daily andwith impunity in light of sanction
for Israel from the United Statesof America and the
United Kingdom. Israel's aggression continues inopen
defiance of calls from the rest of the international
communityfor an immediate cease-fire, and continues to
take a heavy toll ofinnocent life.Until today, the 2nd
of August, 850 Lebanese including 290 childrenhave
been killed and 9,00,000 Lebanese refugees have been
displaced inresponse to the kidnapping of two Israeli
soldiers by Hezbollah 22days ago. The number of
Israeli dead in the conflict thus far is 55,including
19 civilians, as Hezbollah continues to target Israel
withrockets.Despite this, yesterday, the European
Union too provided implicitsanction to Israel's
disproportionate actions by failing to call foran
immediate and unconditional ceasefire. Almost
immediately, Israelhas launched a ground invasion in
southern Lebanon, involving tens ofthousands of
troops.We, the undersigned, condemn this brutal
targeting of unarmed civilianpopulations and the
systematic destruction of the infrastructure ofLebanon
and Gaza. We demand an immediate and unconditional
cease-firein Lebanon and in Gaza and that the leaders
of Israel, the US and theUK be tried for war crimes
against the Lebanese and Palestinianpeople. We mourn
the loss of innocent Lebanese, Palestinian andIsraeli
lives.We urge groups and individuals to join in a
citizen's protest againstIsrael's targeting of
civilians which goes against all laws of war andethics
of combat.Do come with banners, slogans and
solidarity. Please do forward widelyinformation about
the protest on all activist lists, and to the
media.WhenSaturday 5th, 11 amWhereIsraeli Embassy, 3,
Aurangzeb Road(As police do not permit protests
outside the embassy, the rendezvouspoint is the UPSC
building)In solidarity,1. Aarti Sethi, editor2.
Ahtushi Deshpande, travel writer3. Aman Sethi,
journalist4. Amar Kanwar, filmmaker5. Anand Vivek
Taneja, researcher-writer6. Aniruddha Shankar,
concerned citizen7. Anita Roy, editor8. Anita Vasudev,
writer9. Annie Zaidi, journalist10. Anubhav Gupta,
writer11. Apoorvanand, teacher and writer12. Ashwin
Aishwaria, artist13. Bindu Menon, educator14. Charu
Soni, journalist15. Colin Fernandes, journalist16.
Danish Husain, actor and writer17. Gautam Bhan,
activist18. Gayatri Reddy, educator19. George Kurian,
filmmaker20. Harpreet Anand21. I. Priya Thangarajah,
student22. Indira Pathak, activist23. Jaya Sharma,
activist24. Jeet Thayil, writer25. Julia Dutta,
journalist26. Kanchana Natarajan, educator27. Kaushiki
Rao, concerned citizen28. Kishore Kumar Singh,
freelance consultant29. Lesley A. Esteves,
journalist30. Madhu Mehra, human rights lawyer31.
Mario D'Penha, historian-activist32. Maya Sharma,
Parma33. Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, writer34. Monica
Mody, writer35. Mujtaba Farooq36. Dr NK Afandi37.
Narayani Gupta, consultant INTACH38. Neelima Sharma,
theatre activist39. Niharika Gupta, editor40. Nishant
Natya Manch, New Delhi41. Ponni Arasu, activist42.
Pranav Kumar Singh, lawyer43. Prism, New Delhi44.
Radhika Kolluru, lawyer45. Samit Basu, writer46.
Sanjay Kak, filmmaker47. Shabnam Hashmi, social
activist48. Shakti Bhatt, editor49. Dr. Shamsul Islam,
theatre activist 50. Shivam Vij, blogger-journalist51.
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, media practitioner52. Siddharth
Narrain, journalist53. Subasri Krishnan, filmmaker54.
Sumit Baudh, lawyer55. Sumit Roy, filmmaker56. Sunil
Gupta, photographer57. Susan M Koshy, writer58.
Vaibhav Vats, student59. Vineeta Bal, peace
activistSuggested placards/ slogansNo to the WarAmir
Peretz-They Wait for You in the HagueNo to the
Destruction in Gaza and LebanonChildren in Beirut and
Haifa Deserve to LiveListen up, soldier &acirc;€“ it's
your duty to refuseSave Lebanon, Stop IsraelLebanese
children are not terroristsIsrael pulverises, US
supervisesIsrael kills UN observers, world remain mute
expectatorInnocents killings, US dealingsJang to khud
hi ek maslaq haiJang kya mas-alon ka hal degiJang,
jangon ke phalsafe ke khilafAman pur aman zindagi ke
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