[Reader-list] Disproportion and the Justification of War

iram at sarai.net iram at sarai.net
Fri Aug 4 15:50:17 IST 2006

Dear all,

Let me begin by saying that I do not doubt the sincerity of the drafters of
the petition (which I haven't read) and the signatories. My objection still
is to the usage of the word 'disproportionate' in the call to protest. It
acts a qualifier and has been read as a call to protest a disproportionate'
war as opposed to a 'proportionate' one. If this is not enough to econsider
the word, then nothing will be.

The word 'disproportionate' as we all know and would agree forms a part of
the discourse around this 2006 war in Lebanon. I wonder if it was used in a
similar manner in protests and petitions in earlier wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. I am also sure that the protests against these wars were not
mere philosophical positions on War in general but then again I may be

I understand the need to highlight the disproportionality of the war in
Lebanon, but can't it be done by having a clause, one of the points in the
petition rather than the word being used in its title? Can it be rephrased
to avoid this misreading?

I do understand that the legal framework requires the usage of the word
'disproportionate' to describe the war , but then again to me it seems like
an invitation to misreading and possible misuse. Excuse my ignorance and
naivety or call it cynicism but word play in the course of this war had
made me wary. It is not easy to forget the manipulation of the word
'immediate/ ly' by Ms Condoleezza Rice regarding the ceasefire in Lebanon.


On 8:28:48 pm 08/03/06 "Monica Mody" <monica.mody at gmail.com> wrote:
> Whether a war is just or not is a more philosophical response.
> To add to Jamie's comment, the term "disproportionate" has also been
> used very specifically to refer to the rules for conduct of war under
> international humanitarian law, and becomes important when you are
> trying to determine the legality or otherwise of Israel's actions. In
> other words, Israel could be charged for war crimes because of its
> disproportional conduct.
> (For a more detailed analysis, see the Human Rights Watch O&A on
> Israel and Hezbollah, available at
> http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/07/17/lebano13748.htm)
> Cheers,
> Monica
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