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DeVORE The Myth Of Proportionality In War
by Chuck DeVore [novelist, legislator] 7/30/06

A quick scan of the news shows almost 400 recent stories using the words “proportionality” and “Israel” – most no doubt due to the current fighting in Lebanon between Hezbollah (Party of God) and Israel.

On July 12, after six years of a tacit cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel, the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group killed seven Israeli soldiers and captured two. Israel’s vigorous response caught even Hezbollah off guard, with a senior Hezbollah official saying today, “we didn’t even expect (this) response... (we expected) the usual, limited response (from Israel)… The response is unjustified.”

Chuck DeVore

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore represents 450,000 residents of Orange County California’s 70th Assembly District.. He served as a Reagan White House appointee in the Pentagon from 1986 to 1988 and was Senior Assistant to Cong. Chris Cox. He is a Major in the Army National Guard. Chuck’s novel, CHINA ATTACKS, sells internationally and has been translated into Chinese for sales in Taiwan. [go to DeVore index]

So, let me see, that makes the UN, Russia, a few European nations, a bunch of liberal American peaceniks and Hezbollah itself against a so-called “disproportionate” use of force by Israel against Hezbollah.

As a military intelligence officer and a student of military history, allow me to disagree and to state why.

On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese fleet struck Pearl Harbor with six aircraft carriers, killing 2,403 U.S. servicemen and 68 civilians while destroying or severely damaging 12 ships and almost 200 aircraft. Less than four years later, after killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians, with about 100,000 civilians alone killed in the fire bombing of Tokyo in early March of 1945, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th resulting in 214,000 people losing their lives. Japan surrendered on August 14th, sparing what most expected would have been an excessively bloody Allied invasion with hundreds of thousands of Allied deaths and probably more than a million Japanese killed.

Clearly, the American response to the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was not “proportional.”

Proportional response in war is beyond stupid. A proportional response only serves to drag out the conflict, allowing the other side to recover and to control the pace of action – they attack, we respond, they attack again, we respond in kind, they rest and refit and attack again, we respond, etc. Losses mount and the stalemate continues until one side determines it has had enough. (Does Vietnam come to mind?)

Overwhelming military force is the preferred method of answering violence. Overwhelming, remorseless, and sustained force shatters the enemy and robs them of the will and or the means to fight. Overwhelming force looks ugly as it is being applied, but in the end, it usually saves lives and ends the conflict on more acceptable terms.

That having been said, Israel’s response in Lebanon is too big to be “proportional” but not big enough to be overwhelming. Hence, Israel has, perhaps inadvertently, taken steps to draw out this conflict while giving Hezbollah a chance to recover, boost its morale, and score propaganda points in the world and on the Arab street. Israel, perhaps overly regarding the civilian shields used by Hezbollah, as well as acting on concern for its own soldiers, is using tactical patience in Lebanon. This may minimize Israel’s own casualties, but it will likely allow Hezbollah the option of withdrawing north mainly intact so as to continue the fight. Thus, Israel, by not applying overwhelming force (as its critics are alleging it is doing anyway) is almost guaranteeing a prolonged and more bloody conflict with a committed terrorist force that is spoiling for the fight.

Meantime, Iran gets what it needs from this round of fighting: world attention diverted from its nuclear weapons and long-range missile program.

Do you oppose a “disproportional” response? Wait until Iran nukes Tel Aviv for the Israeli “sin” of breathing Middle Eastern air. CRO

copyright 2006 Chuck DeVore




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