The “Proportionality” of Israel’s Self-Defense

As usual, the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas has brought forth accusations about the IDF’s use of “disproportionate” force. Most of these criticisms are rooted in a misunderstanding of the doctrine of proportionality, which does not require an army to ensure that an enemy’s losses are somehow “proportionate” to its own. Marc LiVecche explains:

[T]he doctrine of proportionality has at its core the requirement to calculate gains and losses, [that is], determining when a particular use of force—whether a weapon or a tactic—is likely to produce more harm than good.

Proportionality does not mean that an assaulted nation can only take precisely that weight in flesh that has been taken from it. It has the right to be sure the enemy’s capacity and resolve to try and take more flesh in the future has been humbled. There are limits to this, and it seems pretty clear that Israel is doing an appropriate job in keeping them. . . . Meanwhile, Hamas’s attempt to kill anything Jewish without regard for combatant status continues. That their rockets kill Arabs—both inside Gaza and in Israel—doesn’t seem to matter to them. Israel appears to take greater pains in preventing Palestinian civilian deaths than Hamas does.

It should also be remembered that Hamas can make it all stop in an instant, they need only renounce the violence and credibly stand down. To riff on the old truism, if Hamas were to lay down its arms, there would be no more violence. If Israel were to lay down her arms, there would be no more Israel. In proportion to that fact, Israel should continue to fight accordingly.

Read more at Providence

More about: Hamas, IDF, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Laws of war

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy