[Reader-list] Disproportion and the Justification of War

gowhar fazli gowharfazili at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 4 23:03:49 IST 2006

Sorry for the disproportionate reaction to the
"Disproportionate war"s earlier. Have been arguing
with Americans and Israelis in various communities
over the weeks who are completely enamored by the
war/s. It is hard to alter thinking when the positions
are already taken.

Though i still think draft under consideration is too
weak...to protest against indignation like war
especially this war.  I don't think statements can
stop wars.  The protests are only to register
indignation... louder the better... and not to explain
logic of war to those who are convinced and are in it
with clear speculation, a cool nerve and a clear long
term design.  They are prepared to defend any logic. 
It is evident from the build up to the war. 
Especially the day some 29 kids and women died in a
bombing, Israels defense for that barbarous act was so
well prepared.... with media statements on How the
cowardly 'hizbos' are hiding behind children and women
and if they had prior information this tragedy would
not have happened...  in the same breath but sorry we
must go on bombing as before.  Despite the figures at
odds the image registered is that Hizbos bomb to kill
civilians... Israelis do not deliberately target
civilians but civilian deaths are unavoidable.

The bigger truth is that we are being benumbed with a
constant flow of violence and they are preparing us
for the impending attacks upon Iran and Syria. Lebanon
is just a preparation for us to get comfortable.
Exactly the way occupation of Iraq was made acceptable
over a decade of demonization.

I can understand the logic of including people who may
not be really against wars yet, but may still have a
problem with 'disproportionate wars'.  I think the
logic makes sense if you are using it to mobilize
public opinion among those who have that kind of a
position on the war or wars in general.  Also if you
are wrestling with legal jargon... the rules that they
set... and then themselves violate...  But let me tell
you, it wouldn't make sense to a war battered publics
anywhere if you were trying to express solidarity.

I hope your aim is clear to you.

--- aasim khan <aasim27 at yahoo.co.in> wrote:

> hi...
> Just thought of playing devils advocate, one day
> before the rally...here are some second thoughts...I
> just got reading these posts ...on why protestors
> ( prospective) are sounding so passive, some almost
> guilty in propounding their anxieties...Should not
> the
> debate be clear.
> Frankly they seemed to to have slipped into a denial
> mode as far as acceptance of the war is concerned.I
> mean let us accept that Wars do happen and their
> pitch( wars per year) is only getting louder( or do
> we
> still think  that '68ers still live in the
> barracks).To deny it 'in principle' as Shudbrat from
> SARAI says seems a bit odd.
> Yes surely to support warfare that leads to the
> bloodshed of innocents is definitely not right.But
> then maybe that is not exactly how we should respond
> as we have;Wars are a reality that we live with(
> even
> if we don't accept it) .
> So what I suggest is that we do take an active
> stand,be stakeholders atleast in building opinion on
> the war.
> And here the question of taking sides comes into
> picture.
> Who do you support?
> And if I were to think of the latest war then there
> is
> to answer the question as Israel is not right.Becaue
> of the Hizbollah.Arent they commiting warfare.Yes
> then
> the answer has to be 
> We oppose Israel's war and Hizbollah's war.
> So if we are writng just Israel then we have to
> write
> 'disproportionate'( thats the excuse for not writing
> hizbollah) 
> There can be several versions on different grounds(
> I
> mentioned few in yesterday's mail)...But for now i
> think there is nothing wrong with
> ';Disproportionate'
> in the heading.Here is something i found ...worth a
> read,its conversation with an american war expert
> justifying( in my view) 'disproportionate' war...
> ----------------------------------------
> The Principle of Proportional Force in Warfare
> A major accomplishment of the Red Cross and other
> humanitarian agencies has been the adoption by most
> states of the principle that the use of force must
> be
> proportional to the objective and the opposition
> encountered. "This turn to principles is associated
> with the rise of courts, of judicial review of
> battlefield justice, of war criminals." While
> appearing to be a genuine limitation of the evils of
> war, David Kennedy suggested that this achievement
> has
> mainly given field commanders a set of guidelines on
> how to describe afterward what they would have done
> anyway, or to raise objections to perceived excesses
> of the enemy.
> "No professional commander says, I want you to go
> and
> commit disproportionate violence. We don’t need
> international law for that. The real work begins
> when
> the militaries disagree, when the tactics of the
> other
> side seem disproportional. When this happens you get
> the professional military leaders using the
> vocabulary
> of international law to express their disagreement
> with the tactics of the other side."
> When it comes to their own side, the standard of
> military men on how many civilian casualties are
> permissible, Kennedy suggested, is "Not one more
> than
> is necessary, but as many as are necessary." That is
> better than no standard, but "The difficulty is that
> it legitimates a great deal: all the violence that
> is
> necessary." The humanists have accepted the premises
> of the military here. "A military strategist asks:
> How
> many civilians can you kill? 40 for a bridge, 1000
> for
> a city? They wont say. Humanitarians want to say you
> can't target civilians, but that is not what their
> vocabulary has agreed to. The military in law claims
> that every target was evaluated, including by a
> lawyer. But if you ask by what standard, there is
> nothing inside the box, no revealed rules by which
> you
> can judge what has been done, was it too much. Here
> the pragmatic system grinds to a halt. It does not
> include any specification by which to judge costs.
> The
> main attitude of the humanitarians since the League
> of
> Nations has been, not to outlaw war but to civilize
> it."
> --- Shuddhabrata Sengupta <shuddha at sarai.net> wrote:
> > Dear Monica Mody, Jamie, Iram and others on the
> list
> > 
> > As one of the signatories to this petition, I am
> > clearly one of the 
> > people who overlooked the significance of the
> > qualifying word, 
> > 'disproportionate'. I would like to thank Iram for
> > pointing out the 
> > irony in protesting against the idea of
> 'proportion'
> > while thinking 
> > about a state of war.
> > 
> > I agree with Iram, that to do this is not to
> quibble
> > at details, but 
> > actually central to the way we think about a state
> > of war. I am not one 
> > of those people who believes that there are any
> just
> > wars. In today's 
> > world it is inconceivable that a military and
> > political elite that 
> > governs a nation state, would  acting
> > 'proportionately' or reasonably to 
> > advance its military objectives. Military action
> in
> > defence of the 
> > interests of a nation state are objectionable to
> me
> > in principle, and 
> > there can be no question in my view, that Israel
> > could enter into a 
> > 'reasonable, proportionate, just' war with
> Lebanon.
> > 
> > The same holds true of Hezbollah (a state within a
> > state) or the Syrian 
> > , or the Iranian state, should they choose to
> > retaliate militarily (as 
> > they have already, in the case of Hezbollah) as
> > parties involved in 
> > aggression against people inhabiting the
> boundaries
> > of the territories 
> > governed by the State of Israel. Civilians, who
> die
> > in this conflict, be 
> > they Lebanese, Palestinian or Israeli do not have
> > the luxury to ask 
> > whether their death was in proportion to the
> deaths
> > on the other side. 
> > The arrogance of the Israeli state consists in its
> > belief that the value 
> > of the life of an Israeli person is greater than
> > that of his or her 
> > Lebanse or Palestinian neighbours. That therefore,
> > the Israeli 
> > military's actions are reasonable and those of the
> > Hezbollah are not. If 
> > we are to act against this way of thinking, we
> must
> > insist that the 
> > value of an Israeli civilian's life is the same as
> > that of a Lebanese, 
> > or Palestinian civilian. This would mean, that any
> > party to the 
> > conflict, on any side, involved in any violence
> that
> > befalls any 
> > civilians, by design or by accident is equally
> > morally responsible for 
> > the tragedy that has engulfed the region. We
> cannot
> > parcel out this 
=== message truncated ===

Unfortunately, the balance of nature decrees that a super-abundance of dreams is paid for by a growing potential for nightmares.   
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. 

Peter Ustinov

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