Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Vatican, Israel, and Just War

Malkin (quoting Ariana Fellaci) and Morrissey have launched verbal missiles at the Vatican because a Church official reminded Israel of the principles of Just War.

Umnnnnnhhh...the Vatican's reminder is astute and timely, and deserves a bit more respect than it's been given:

The principles:

the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

there must be serious prospects of success;

the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition

Bainbridge (who practiced international law) has a thought on the application of the fourth part of the principles:

The US Catholic Council of Bishops has specifically argued that "the targeting of civilian infrastructure, which afflicts ordinary citizens long after hostilities have ceased, can amount to making war on noncombatants rather than against opposing armies." It isn't just ivory tower academicians or left-leaning churchmen who take this view. In a 2001 issue of the US my War College's Parameters journal, for example, Brigadier General Ronald S. Mangum raised doubts about whether NATO complied with just war doctrines in deliberately targeting Serbia's civilian infrastructure during the 1999 bombing campaign.

... Proportionality holds that the response to aggression should not be disproportionate to the original aggression. Was the deliberate firebombing of Dresden or Hamburg, say, proportional to the Blitz?

In fact, however, Israel clearly is targeting not just Hezbollah, but also Lebanon's official military, and, most important for our purposes, Lebanon's basic civilian infrastructure. The Beirut airport has been closed by Israeli attacks. Bridges, ports, roads, and power stations are all being targeted.

It is fair to allow for errors, especially given the tactics of Hizbollah--to hide behind civilians. There are also some interesting questions about "state-less" combatants (as GWB knows) which are not easily resolved.

But the Vatican's statement was NOT unreasonable, nor should the Vatican be criticized for doing what Churchmen are supposed to do.


Billiam said...

You know as well as I, Israel fights for their very existence. Also, as you're aware, terrorists hide behind the populous. Also, if other Arab states had helped Lebanon with the UN mandate for hizbollah to dis-arm, mayhap this whole scenario would have been avoided. Hizbollah took advantage of a situation begun by Hamas, decided that Israel had shown much weakness recently, and decided to aggrivate things. Did The Vatican come out strongly AGAINST what hamas/hizbollah did?

Dad29 said...

The Vatican has UNFAILINGLY condemned each instance of terrorism aimed at Israel--although it's not widely reported.

We did mention that the tactics of terrorists make judgments almost impossible.

Saw a Jewish pal today; he didn't like what the Vatican said, either. Told him that the Pope, basically, will continue to call for peace--that the Popes stopped calling for wars right around the end of the Crusades.

We both agreed that the Crusades were not effective enough.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for your analogy every intelligence agency, news agency and even Lebanon itself admits that the airports, roads, railheads and bridges are used by Syria to transport Iranian weapons to the terrorists. It all makes sense unless you believe that the terrorists have a star trek transporter beaming those rockets into southern Lebanon.

No definition of any kind can possibly make these targets NON military. They are most definately justified targets. Anyone who attempts to argue that you must allow an enemy to resupply is an idiot and not worthy of casting any opinion on a military operation.

Dad29 said...

David, you have a problem:


And when you go there, scroll down to "Hizbollah" and observe the following:

Moreover, Lebanon's infrastructure has already been so damaged that Hizballah's social services network is bound to expand -- thus bolstering the terrorist group's standing.

Since neither of us is posting with full and detailed knowledge of exactly what infrastructure Israel has taken out in Lebanon, neither of us can render a definitive judgment.

However--Israel should NOT create a situation under which civilian necessities are simply unavailable.

This is not simple, David, much as you'd like it to be so.

Anonymous said...

I said nothing about their standing Dad. I said their SUPPLIES.

They are not lobbing "standings" or "support" into the holy land, they are lobbing Rockets. Manufactured by Iran and shipped via Syria to the terrorist scum.

Isreal learned what happened when you back down after a terrorist attack. They attack again. Their are only two ways to stop them. 1. All Jews kill themselves 2. Isreal kills all the terrorists.

Lebanon has had years to disarm the terrorist scum, they can't or they will not. Isreal has no choice. Personally I find their restraint discerning since it only prompts Iran to be more aggressive.

Dad29 said...

OK. We can agree that Israel (and for that matter, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the USA) will be better off when all the terrorists are eliminated.

Who can argue?

However, in the course of eliminating terrorists, Israel (and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraqi forces, and the USA) SHOULD be as careful as possible to limit damages done to civilians, including limiting damage to infrastructure on which civilian life depends.