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Disproportionate my A**
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, January 08, 2009

It is well known that Hamas has dug tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza through which they smuggle weaponry.

As an aside: imagine how much "food and humanitarian aid" could have come through that same route had they decided to spend their money on that instead of weapons - and, most likely, they would have been able to bring it in overland vs tunnels to boot.

Anyway, the estimate is that there are about 300 tunnels in use. Additionally it is well known that the tunnels lead to houses near the border where the weaponry is stored for later use.

Now if you were a ruthless and immoral enemy, what would you do? Well, my guess is you'd attempt to strike the tunnels and the housing without warning hoping to catch at least some Hamas weapons smugglers in the act and essentially write off any civilian casualties as the price of their complicity, no?

Well, as MichaelW pointed out below, that's not how the IDF operates. So when they decided to go after those 300 tunnels and the houses which stored the weaponry, here's what they did:
Earlier, Palestinian sources reported that an Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over the Rafah refugee camp, urging residents to flee because of planned Israeli strikes. The leaflet addressed Rafah residents of a strip of neighborhoods that run parallel to the Egypt border.

"Because Hamas uses your houses to hide and smuggle military weapons, the IDF will attack the area, between the Egyptian border and the beach road," the leaflet said, according a local UN official.

The leaflet included the names of four neighborhoods expected to be hit by the IDF, and instructed locals to immediately leave their homes. "For your safety and for the safety of your children – follow the instructions in this announcement," the leaflet read.

Security officials estimated that about 300 tunnels were used for smuggling weapons from Egypt to the Strip before the Gaza operation was launched.

After the leaflets were dropped, about 5,000 fled to two UN schools turned into temporary shelters, the official said.
Now, here's my question - given the warning, given the specific neighborhoods to be struck and given the ample time between warning and strike which allowed 5,000 people to flee, what should one believe about "civilians" who are now reported as killed or injured in the strike?

And given all of the above, how can anyone who understands the principle of proportionality argue the IDF's action was "disproportionate?"
 
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In the various posts about this week’s fight between the Palis and Israel, there seems to be a common thread: disbelief that anybody could take seriously claims that the Palis are peaceful, innocent, lovable, good-to-their-mothers folk being murdered by nasty ol’ Jooooooos. Evidence is provided to demonstrate the opposite, i.e. that the Palis are murderous aggressors who have ceaselessly provoked Israel and are now getting some comeuppence.

The problem is, that the people who mouth and believe that the Palis are the innocent victims here are liberals. These are not people who have a demonstrated ability to think. They are little more than two-legged sheep. Consider:

The same people who condemn Israel and champion the Palis are the same people who hold candlelight vigils outside prisons to protest the execution of a murderer because they are told by their leaders that his crimes are excused by his race or poverty. They are the people who excuse terrorist acts around the world because they imagine that the terrorists are all victims of poverty, colonialism, imperialism, etc. Somehow, they have the idea that championing an "underdog", no matter how loathesome, makes them morally better people. It’s a cheap and easy way for people who are intellectually and morally bankrupt to feel righteous.

A sheepdog is fighting a wolf in the next pasture, and the sheep in our pasture are cheering for the wolf and want the sheepdog shot.

We live in a helluva world.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
And given all of the above, how can anyone who understands the principle of proportionality argue the IDF’s action was "disproportionate?"
Don’t ask me, I’m still trying to figure out what a "defensive tunnel" is.
 
Written By: Phil Smith
URL: http://
how can anyone who understands the principle of proportionality argue the IDF’s action was "disproportionate?"
Well, there’s the rub. How many folks whining about proportionality really understand what the term means? It is a seemingly powerful rhetorical turn of phrase but has a distinct, narrow meaning.
A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) (Article 8(2)(b)(i)) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality) (Article 8(2)(b)(iv).
IOW, proportionality refers to the military gain versus civilian loss in a given action, not to the relative firepower of the opposing sides in a conflict or the losses inflicted. I suspect that the latter meaning is widely and erroneously assumed, however, by those clinging to "proportionality" as an objection.
 
Written By: CR
URL: http://
How many folks whining about proportionality really understand what the term means?
That’s precisely the purpose of my question, CR - to see how many actually understand the term that is being thrown around so blithely by those who appear to think it has something to do the size of the response.

You link to the "international law" of proportionality and I covered it from more of a moral point of view as covered in Just War doctrine.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Amazing how all those tunnels were dug under the very noses (not to mention feet) of the Egyptian authorities.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I used to argue with these guys from 2001 till 2003 then I gave up. It is impossible.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
First, avoid the error of collectivization docjim, calling them "Palis" and lumping them together as if they were inhuman is the first step to making holocausts possible. Second, proportionality is proportionality of ends, not means. One could make the argument that a lot of children being killed is not proportionate the danger caused by a Hamas strike. But with proportionality it all depends on interpretation or estimate of what would have happened if Israel had not struck. In other words, proportionality means that the evil done by responding is less than the evil that would have been done by not responding. Or, is the total dead greater if one responds than if one doesn’t. Clearly, there is no way to calculate that for sure, so it’s always a case of opinions and interpretations. My view is that this doesn’t have a local solution; neither side can win, they can both lose.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
My view is that this doesn’t have a local solution; neither side can win, they can both lose.
If the Palestinians laid down their arms there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down their arms there would not be any more Israelis.

There is a solution but the Palestinians don’t want it and neither does it seem the left as well.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Here is a segment quoted by a prominent liberal blogger in Canada. Now a liberal in Canada is to the left of most liberals in the US. This particular blogger runs an aggregation of liberal blogs in Canada and he is somewhat dismayed by the level of anti-semitism amonst his fellows.
As President of Liblogs, I speak on behalf of the organization. While I will never force bloggers to adopt my view, I feel it is my responsibility to lay out the official position of Liblogs on the fighting in Israel and Gaza. Individual bloggers are free to disagree as long as they do so in a mature and civil manner.

I have very strong views on the history of the Middle East, but it is not necessary to consider such historic arguments when talking about Gaza. Instead, we can focus on relatively recent events. I believe that those events prove beyond any doubt that it is Hamas, and not Israel, that is responsible for the current fighting.
....
Israel showed nothing but restraint from the summer of 2005 until December 2008 in its relations with the people of Gaza. There can be no reasonable disagreement that Israel has the right to defend its citizens. The undeniable truth is that if the elected government of Gaza had not attacked Israel, then Israel would not have attacked Gaza.
Maybe some on the left in the US should get their collective heads out of their collective a$$e$.

But I sure don’t expect anything.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Here is an interesting article about the nature of what Israel is and why it is pointless to listen to world opinion. Facts are delicate things and the left has their own version the facts and nothign short of Isreali’s destruction will change that.
The poverty and the death and the despair among the Palestinians in Gaza moves me to tears. How can it not? Who can see pictures of children in a war zone or a slum street and not be angry and bewildered and driven to protest? And what is so appalling is that it is so unnecessary. For there can be peace and prosperity at the smallest of prices. The Palestinians need only say that they will allow Israel to exist in peace. They need only say this tiny thing, and mean it, and there is pretty much nothing they cannot have.

Yet they will not say it. And they will not mean it. For they do not want the Jews. Again and again - again and again - the Palestinians have been offered a nation state in a divided Palestine. And again and again they have turned the offer down, for it has always been more important to drive out the Jews than to have a Palestinian state. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the feeling that Hamas and Hezbollah don’t want to kill Jews because they hate Israel. They hate Israel because they want to kill Jews.

There cannot be peace until this changes. For Israel will not rely on airy guarantees and international gestures to defend it. At its very core, it will not. It will lay down its arms when the Jews are safe, but it will not do it until they are.

And if you reflect on it, doesn’t recent experience bear this out? Just as Herzl was borne out? A year or so back I met a teacher while I was on holiday and fell to talking with him about Israel. He was a nice man and all he wanted was for fighting to stop and to end the suffering of children. And he had a question for me.

Why, he asked, doesn’t Israel offer to give back the West Bank and Gaza? Why doesn’t it just let the Palestinians have a state there? If the Palestinians turned it down, he said, then at least liberal opinion would be on Israel’s side and would rally to its assistance.

So I patiently explained to this kind, good man that Israel had, at Camp David in 2000, made precisely this offer and that it had been rejected out of hand by Yassir Arafat, not even used as the basis for negotiation. I told him that Israel was no longer in Gaza, having withdrawn unilaterally and taken the settlers with it. The Palestinians had greeted this movement with suicide bombs and rockets. Yet the teacher, with all his compassion, wasn’t even aware of all this. And liberal opinion? Sad to relate, my new friend’s faith in it was misplaced. It has turned strongly against Israel.
Again as we have all said, "Peace will exist in the middle east when Palestinians lay down their arms"

Before any of the left take out their anti semitic identity card, I am am not Jewish but I have extensively in the Middle east. I have been to Gaza and the West bank. I have seen what I have seen and my trust is in Israel to do the right thing so long as they are allowed to do what they need to.

 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
In other words, proportionality means that the evil done by responding is less than the evil that would have been done by not responding.
If that’s true, and I’ll accept that it is, then proportionality is a ridiculous rule to live by in a war. Especially for the defender. The idea should be to END THE AGGRESSION ASAP and not allow the aggressor to dictate the terms of engagement. That’s a recipe for a long, painful war.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Erb - First, avoid the error of collectivization docjim, calling them "Palis" and lumping them together as if they were inhuman is the first step to making holocausts possible.

1. Um... Does it "lump them together as if they were inhuman" also apply when I or anybody else refers to "Israelis"? For example, you use the phrase "if Israel had not struck". Aren’t you collectivizing the Israelis as if they are inhuman and hence taking the first step to making (another) holocaust possible?

2. Aren’t you coming perilously close to violating Godwin’s Law by implying that I want the Palis exterminated?

Erb - Second, proportionality is proportionality of ends, not means.

Oh. So, if Hamas kills ten Israelis, then Israel is only allowed to kill ten... um... Ten of whom, exactly? Ten members of Hamas? Ten Palis? Since Japan killed about 2000 of our men at Pearl Harbor, were we allowed to only kill about 2000 of them in response?

Erb - One could make the argument that a lot of children being killed is not proportionate the danger caused by a Hamas strike.

Yes. One could also make the argument that Israel is a sovereign country and its government has an obligation to do what it can to protect its citizens from harm, and if it believes that making war on Hamas, even if that involves the unintentional killing of Pali children, then this is its right. I’ve heard similar arguments that we oughtn’t have dropped the Bomb on Japan and indeed should not even have gone to war with Japan because there was no way that Japan could have invaded / conquered the United States. Americans in 1941 didn’t feel that way, so we killed quite a lot of Japanese, including vast numbers of children, through bombing raids. Anybody want to call FDR or Truman and their advisors "murderers" or "warmongers" or claim that the steps taken by the United States to win WWII were "disproportional"?

Erb - But with proportionality it all depends on interpretation or estimate of what would have happened if Israel had not struck.

Um... Don’t you mean "what would have happened if HAMAS had not struck"? I seem to recall that they started shooting first.

I’m reminded of an incident I read about several years ago in which a police officer had a shoot-out with a criminal. The crook was tried for (among other things) attempted murder because he had fired at the officer. The jury found him not guilty, reasoning (!) that, had he REALLY intended to kill the officer, he would have fired all the cartridges in his pistol. This is the sort of witless thinking that one sees in arguments against Israel’s defensive actions.

Does anybody doubt that, if Hamas had access to larger, more powerful weapons, they would restrain themselves and only fire the rockets they have been using? Or does everybody think that Hamas would obliterate Israeli cities if it had the capability to do so? If so, then why in the world should Israel screw around and essentially wait until Hamas DOES have such weapons?

Somehow, I think that libs would simply shrug and say, "They had it coming" if Tel Aviv or Haifa were vaporized by a Hamas nuke. Sort of like libs agreed with Ward Churchill that the people who died on 9-11 deserved it.

Erb - My view is that this doesn’t have a local solution; neither side can win, they can both lose.

Yes, it does; yes, one side or the other can win. It does not have a solution that Hamas CAN do or Israel (so far) has been willing to do, i.e. inflict enough casualties on the other side until they surrender. The idea that external actors can enforce a peace is ludicrous unless they, too, are willing to inflict lots of casualties on the side that breaks the peace. What has been meant by a "solution" thus far has been "Israel surrenders something and leaves the Palis alone until they can rebuild their forces and try again". Personally, I’m in favor of allowing the Israelis to take such steps as they feel they need to ensure their own security. I think that, if the "world community" would take the same attitude, then the Palis would eventually get the idea that terrorist action is counterproductive, and hence would give it up. THEN there would be a chance for a negotiated settlement. As it stands, the Palis have no reason to modify their behavior: they believe that the world community will eventually force a ceasefire on Israel, which is to say that the world community will save the Palis from defeat and give them ANOTHER chance to destroy Israel in the future.

Doesn’t sound like a good deal for the Israelis to me.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Israel is a worse situation now than any time since 1967. They cannot defeat Hamas, and my biggest criticism of their action now is that they are playing into Hamas’ hands. Any loses Hamas has now are short term, but a new generation of anger is building, and sympathy for Hamas growing. Israel can no more drive the Arabs in the desert than the Palestinians can drive the Jews into the sea. Their destinies are linked, they’ll either find a way to live together, or they’ll keep killing each other, perhaps until some bit of nuclear terror makes the place uninhabitable.

Israel could easily defeat other states. Non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah fight different kinds of wars, with images and photographs often more powerful than bullets. The old kind of war is fading, this new kind is far more dangerous to Israel than most people realize (though I think the Israelis understand — but don’t see any other option).

Each side can make a proportionality argument. Hamas no doubt will point to the suffering and humiliation of the Palestinians. Israel points to Palestinian attacks, Hamas points to Israel acts of violence. But neither can win. If one side could, they would have done so by now.

(The idea of proportionality as useful in war is controversial — it is a part of the Christian just war doctrine, and though its been secularized, it’s still really easy to justify or criticize anything, depending on assumptions made).
I do not lump the Israelis together in a way to make them seem inhuman. My blog post linked above shows in fact I understand their predicament. My view: you cannot be pro-Israel without being pro-Palestinian and vice versa. Their destinies are linked.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
"Non-state actors like Hamas ..."
They are the elected head of government in Gaza. They are the state. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the rest of your nonsense is concerned.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://qando.net
Michael, are you suggesting there is a Palestinian state? Are you suggesting that Hamas is a traditional military power like another state with an army, and not a terror organization organized more as a militia that operates in more like Hezbollah or the militias in Iraq? I dare say that you calling my post "nonsense" is rather funny. I am going to use this case as a case study in my "War and Peace" course next semester. I can send you some material to help you educate yourself on this.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
If that’s true ...
It’s not and the person opining about it is, as usual full of it.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Israel is a worse situation now than any time since 1967. They cannot defeat Hamas, and my biggest criticism of their action now is that they are playing into Hamas’ hands. Any loses Hamas has now are short term, but a new generation of anger is building, and sympathy for Hamas growing. Israel can no more drive the Arabs in the desert than the Palestinians can drive the Jews into the sea. Their destinies are linked, they’ll either find a way to live together, or they’ll keep killing each other, perhaps until some bit of nuclear terror makes the place uninhabitable.
If Hamas (which is the state in this case), does not want to negociate in good fate and whose stated aim is to exterminate the Jews and Israel then what should they do.

Let me quote again from that link I posted which you obviously have either 1) not read, or 2) are not convinced or believe.
In the summer of 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza. This was a complete and total withdrawal, where even settlers whose families had lived in Gaza for decades were withdrawn to Israel. It was everything the world had ever asked from Israel as far as the Gaza strip was concerned. No matter what you might think of the past, Israel clearly made a decision to disassociate itself from Gaza and give the people of Gaza a chance to set their own destiny.

And they did. In January 2006, the people of Gaza elected Hamas. Hamas is an organization that denies Israel’s right to exist and has used suicide bombers to attack civilians even in times of absolute peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Even after this provocation, Israel stayed out of Gaza.

In June 2006, Hamas attacked Israel and kidnapped a soldier while killing two others. In June 2007, Hamas began an internal civil war in which they rooted out and killed all representatives of the elected Palestinian president and the opposition party, Fatah. Eventually, by June 2008, Israel was able to negotiate a cease fire with Hamas, the “State of Calm Agreement”, brokered by Egypt. That agreement fell apart in December 2008 when Hamas once again began attacking Israel with rockets imported from Syria and Iran.

Israel showed nothing but restraint from the summer of 2005 until December 2008 in its relations with the people of Gaza. There can be no reasonable disagreement that Israel has the right to defend its citizens. The undeniable truth is that if the elected government of Gaza had not attacked Israel, then Israel would not have attacked Gaza.

People who do not like the response need to evaluate who is truly responsible, and demand that governments around the world start to take action to save the people of Gaza from their own elected government. It is time to stop blaming Israel for being attacked by a government that wants to destroy the Jewish state.
and then there is this:
Michael, are you suggesting there is a Palestinian state? Are you suggesting that Hamas is a traditional military power like another state with an army, and not a terror organization organized more as a militia that operates in more like Hezbollah or the militias in Iraq? I dare say that you calling my post "nonsense" is rather funny. I am going to use this case as a case study in my "War and Peace" course next semester. I can send you some material to help you educate yourself on this.
They were elected by an election that Carter would call fair (in the sense that his monitored Venezuean election were fair, so he says). So if they in the area of Gaza, having been elected in a democratic process by the people of that area, are not its "state" representatives, they what are they?

And if they are not then who do you negociate with? You have tied yourself in logical knots. I think you are arguing both that there is nothing for Israel to do but that they should do something. You do know that is a paradox.

You and every other leftward philosopher seems to think that if Israel just did something then it would be resolved. So, mister smart guy, tell us what they should do? I am all ears. I really am.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Israel could easily defeat other states. Non-state actors like Hamas and Hezbollah fight different kinds of wars, with images and photographs often more powerful than bullets.
Erb, when you’re on the receiving end, actually bullets are more powerful than images and photographs.

In the court of world opinion, sure anyone can tell a story that people already want to hear, but on the ground, living in Sderot, I can guarantee you, the people are getting more hurt by rockets than propaganda.

Sometimes, not taking action is in the end, a far greater harm than taking action. What message does it send to just let your enemy bomb you at will?

As for world opinion, let’s face it, everyone (minus the US) condems Israel whenever they do *anything* to defend themselves. In the face of that, why not really give them something to condemn you for by fully defending yourself?
 
Written By: Amy
URL: http://
In other words, proportionality means that the evil done by responding is less than the evil that would have been done by not responding.
So Erb, if someone is trying to kill you (i mean you specifically) must you wait to almost be killed before killing the person who is trying to kill you?

 
Written By: mac
URL: http://
He’d go home (if he could) and reflect on it for a while and decide if responding to the attempt would be more harmful than letting the guy try to kill him again.

As to his other drivel -
The answer lies in Palestinian Gaza - they can accept that Israel will NOT cease to exist as their basic starting point, will NOT commit mass suicide or mass exodus (again?) and the Palestinian world will improve dramatically from there.

In order to do that, they have to stop electing people who infer "we will get you killed" by telling them prior to the election that they will actively seek the destruction of the state of Israel.

Otherwise the world can hold further negotiations to get 99% of what the Palestinians allegedly want, and every 8 months to 3 years they’ll provoke Israel again by peacefully firing rockets across the border and peacefully blowing themselves up on Israeli soil so the evil Israelis will ensure their re-election by defending Israeli citizens and their sovereignty.

The world must STOP aiding and abetting Hamas by filling the vacuum left by their decisions to spend their available funds on weapons instead of on the good of the Palestinian people.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
So according to Erb’s rules of logic, if someone is shooting at your head and he keeps missing then you can’t anything until say he shoots you in the head and then you can ... oh wait .... nevermind
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
It is disproportionate - there are still buildings standing in Gaza. The IDF needs to get on the ball here. The Nazis sent some missles into London. Then the British helped incinerate several German cities. That was the end of it.
 
Written By: The Old Man
URL: http://
Hamas missiles need to get lucky just once and hit 30 kids and then they’d be on the news and Erb would be arguing that they should only shoot missiles that kill one kid at a time, or something.

BTW, since Hamas now fields several versions of missiles, I don’t think you can call them a "militia" anymore.

The Germans launched V-1 terror missiles at the UK, and I don’t think we’d call them a "militia"
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
And by stationing their fighters in civilian areas (mosques, schools, hospitals), by using human shields, and by making sure that their fighters do not have identifying marks, it is Hamas, and not Israel, who is committing war crimes under the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions.

Those who violate the conventions have zero claim to protection under them.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Erb - I am going to use this case as a case study in my "War and Peace" course next semester.

I’m not sure whether to guffaw or shudder at the idea that you are teaching a course on "War and Peace" (unless you mean the novel, and I’m pretty sure you don’t). However, if Al Gore can get a Nobel for his drivel about global warming and TAO can be considered a genius because he’s written two books about himself, I guess anything is possible.

What, exactly, will you teach your students about war and peace? How will you use this week’s scuffle between Israel and the Palis as a case study? I realize that it won’t require a lot of effort on your part because your students are going to be mostly either (A) uninterested and there merely to satisfy an academic requirement or (B) already firmly in agreement with you that war is icky and that America and the joooooos are to blame for everything. However, the slim possibility exists that you will get one or two students not dissimilar to many of the commenters here who will not be satisfied by liberal shibboleths. They may well reject the concept of proportionality in war as absurd and nothing more than a good way to have a much longer and destructive war. Possibly they will wonder why Israel (or any other nation under attack) should exercize restraint when responding. The more informed of them could ask embarrassing questions about why it is permissible for civilians to be killed in some wars (or even by one side in a war) but not in others, using World War II as an example. Personally, I would like to be present in the miraculous event that one of them rises from the typical college student stupor long enough to ask you to explain how "destiny" links people and makes it absurd for them to fight a war yet requires people not involved in the fight to create a settlement. What role did destiny play in the Civil War? Or World War II? If some people are destined to live in peace, then couldn’t one argue that others are destined to fight to the death? What creates this destiny, anyway? Were France and Prussia / Germany destined to fight three wars in less than a century only to become buddies afterward? Was it destiny that made allies of Britain and France after centuries of intermitent war?

Before you try to use the Israeli / Palestinian conflict as a case study of war and peace, could you please discuss using actual examples:

1. Why people / nations fight wars in the first place?

2. What consititutes "winning" and "losing" in war?

3. How one side or the other recognizes that it has "lost"?

4. The consequences of "losing" and how some prevent while others spark future wars?

5. International conventions / bodies intended to eliminate war or mitigate its effects and their successes and failures?

Then, please compare and contrast the present Israeli / Palestinian conflict with:

1. World War II, especially the portion of the war between the United States and Japan

2. The War for Independence

3. The guerilla war between France and Spain ca. 1805

4. The conflict between the United States and Filipinos ca. 1900.

Please make special reference to the role played by civilians and the attitude towards them taken by the combatants. Please also discuss the role played by "destiny" in these conflicts.

Thank you.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
doc, he can’t do any of that, because Erb’s knowledge of history is pretty sketchy, judging by the ignorance he displays in his comments here. Because he thinks war is so icky, he probably just couldn’t bring himself to really study and understand it. So he doesn’t know much about it, even though he thinks he does.

About six or eight months ago, I got totally relaxed about reading his stuff. I realized what a buffoon he is, and that there is no need to get worked up over anything he says. Just laugh at him and move on.

I mean, I’m glad somebody pwns him on just about every thread he comments on to demonstrate his idiocy. That way, new readers can figure him out pretty fast.
 
Written By: Grocky
URL: http://
Doc, you gotta remember that Erb is the same guy who thinks Carter is a great statesman, Murtha has valuable experience if we on the right would only listen to him, John Kerry was in Cambodia like he says he was, and Juan Cole speaks the gospel when it comes to Iran. Need anything more?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Grocky and SShiell,

Giving him the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I’m genuinely curious what a screaming lib has to say about war and peace (other than war is icky and the fault of the US and the joooooos and that peace, like, is totally cool). Further, I’m also curious to see how he handles the Israeli / Pali conflict in a historical context. It’s easy to yap about "proportionality" and "just war" when one has only to look at a single conflict in isolation, but it seems to me much more difficult when one looks at the history of war and what has been done during even "good" wars in the past.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Wow, docjim, you’re trying everything to avoid talking about the issue at hand and the points I made!

Until you deny them or address them, do not expect me to address your rather vague questions. Simply: the age of state to state warfare like we saw through WWII is over. While in the third world inter-state conflicts exist, they are usually riddled with issues of corruption and ethnic differences. In Europe they’ve learned that even the most vicious opponents can work together when they are made interdependent — and if Germany were offered Poland on a platter they’d turn it down because taking Poland would actually weaken the German economy.

The fact is that we’re in a new era where propaganda, technology, the possibility of WMD, and the proliferation of transnational non-state actors is changing the nature of war. Now you can hem and haw, and say "well, there were non-state militias in the past" or ask a bunch of questions to avoid answering the argument, you can’t deny the reality of a changed world due to the technology revolution and globalization. It’s changed warfare and rendered traditional large militaries much less relevant.

As for the "War and Peace" course, it’ll certainly deal with a lot of history (esp. WWI, WWII, the failure of the Kellogg-Briand pact, pre-WWI Hague conference, etc.) and compare war in the age of strong sovereignty with today. We’ll look a lot at where war is most common today, which is Africa — and it is very brutal, with child soldiers and connections with raw materials smuggling. We’ll also look at a few case studies — Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir. In general we look at theories of IR: Realism, liberalism (not to be confused with how liberal is used in American politics), neo-liberalism, neo-realism, various theories of conflict and conflict resolution, and consideration of academic work now about how the world is changing the nature and fungibility of military power. Just as the world economy is a state of radical transition, so is the institution of war.

One stat really stands out. Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel. Now it’s up to about 80% civilian (a bit more or less depending on the study). That’s a huge stat showing that war has changed.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
McQ, if you don’t understand that proportionality in just war theory (which is how it’s most often used) deals with comparison of the ends rather than the means, then you don’t understand the concept. It’s been that way since Augustine of Hippo. It would be ridiculous to argue that the means have to always be proportionate since that would assure greater death, since neither side could win! No one I know of would argue that!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
Oh. So, if Hamas kills ten Israelis, then Israel is only allowed to kill ten... um... Ten of whom, exactly?


NO! The issue is rather: will responding to Hamas in a particular way (i.e., major incursion) end up costing more innocent life than not responding in that way, or responding in a different way. IF you take proportionality seriously, you must respond in the way that most effectively deters or counters aggression with a minimal cost in civilian life (Christian just war theory would say even enemy combattant life). A response is disproportionate if it leads to more innocent lose of life than is necessary to counter the aggression.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
"A response is disproportionate if it leads to more innocent lose of life than is necessary to counter the aggression."


All made moot erb by the non state (LOL! No really, LOL!) actor, hamas, utilizing human shields. BTW, they are the elected representatives of Gaza. They are the state. And you’re a professor? God help us all.
 
Written By: RFN
URL: http://
Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel.
Really??!!! I think you need to read more history, my son.

Do you really mean to say that no civilians were killed by soldiers in wars before WW1??

What about the American civil war, The Crimean war, The Boer war, Spanish American war, The Napoleonic wars, the War of the Roses, the various Roman wars?

God, you are an arrogant, stupid man.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
" he probably just couldn’t bring himself to really study and understand it."

He has already said that. Military is history is not, you know, real history. Therefore, you can teach a course about war without actually knowing any military history.



" Simply: the age of state to state warfare like we saw through WWII is over."

Of course. That is why we fought ’The War To End All Wars’.

"Just as the world economy is a state of radical transition, so is the institution of war."

This profound insight came, no doubt, after lengthy study of such expert writings as Time magazine, the NYT, and Classics comic books, all well known for the depth and breadth of their knowledge of war.


 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel.... That’s a huge stat showing that war has changed""

I suppose, being a student of German history, you have heard of the 30 Years War? The Mongols?



More like the definition of war has changed. A hundred years ago the little problem in Gaza would not have been classified as war, and would have been solved rather more quickly and thoroughly by the Israelis, without all the negative international fuss.

There are other grounds for disputing your glib statement, but I am too lazy to write that much.


*********************

"And you’re a professor? God help us all."

Amen.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Christian just war theory would say even enemy combatant life
Good that this is primarly a fight between heathen Jews and heathen Muslims eh?


Erb -
Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel.... That’s a huge stat showing that war has changed""
Capt Joe -
Do you really mean to say that no civilians were killed by soldiers in wars before WW1??
No he didn’t mean to say NO civilians, he meant ALMOST no civilians. See?

He didn’t say ’no’, that would be silly!

But he’s right -
Those nearly 2 millions jews dead in 3 revolts against Rome? Almost all soldiers.
Various cities sacked and looted? Almost only soldiers were casualties.

Mongols? Heh, a well known fact they almost only killed soldiers (despite the fact that John Kerry tried to smear their good name by likening them to our barbarian army in Vietnam!)

Populations displaced/killed/starved during the various European Wars. Almost all soldiers.

Hundred Years War part I - In France, the English invasion, civil wars, deadly epidemics, famines and marauding mercenary armies turned to banditry reduced the population by two-thirds. Who knew 2/3’s of the population were soldiers!
I’m amazed.

Why go on, I concede he’s, as usual, soooooooooooo right!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Why go on, I concede he’s, as usual, soooooooooooo right!
exactly, how could one argue against "le creme d’academie de Maine"

Now I really do believe that Ph. D. means piled high and deep
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
I have it on good authority that Atilla the Hun was a very early follower of the Geneva Conventions. Oh Ghengis Khan, too.
 
Written By: RFN
URL: http://
Relatively recent actions/wars where proportionality was never discussed or mentioned.
By Algerian estimates, up to 700,000 civilians were killed during the eight year French-Algerian War, a war fought over exclusively North African land (18,000 French are also believed to have died). Russia decimated Chechnya during that republic’s attempt to break away from Mother Russia, resulting in between 100,000 to 200,000 civilian fatalities in three years (Russian casualties were reported to be 5,500). In the early 1950’s the British Army put down the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya - over 10,000 were killed, with few British casualties.
And, of course, anyone who has read anything of history knows that civilian casualties were a part of warfare through the ages.

Rome in Britain:
Suetonius was able to garner troops from the XIV and XX legions, and some local auxilliaries. All together, the governor fielded 10000 men. They encountered 23000 Britons in an unknown field surrounded by sparse groups of forest. Although one might have expected a Roman rout, their superior tactics won the day, and in fact many thousands of the Britons got caught trying to marshall their families away from the battlefield and were slaughtered. When the day ended, 80000 Britons were dead compared to only 400 Romans.
As most who can subract have figured out, that means approximately 57,000 "civilians" died at the hands of the Roman soldiers.

The Vikings:
In 845, on 28 March, Paris was devastated and the city had to pay a ransom of the unheard sum of 7000 pounds of silver. The rumour of this easily earned money probably spread swiftly for soon Viking fleets appeared on all major rivers in the western part of the Frankish empire. Towns, churches and monasteries were assaulted as described by the monk
Ermentarius of Noirmoutier in the 860s:

“The number of ships is growing. Endless flocks of Vikings keep pouring in. Everywhere the Christians are massacred, burned and pillaged. The Vikings take everything that comes their way. Nobody is able to resist them. They have captured Bordeaux, Périgeux, Limoges, Angoulême and Toulouse. Angers, Tours and Orléans have been annihilated. A countless fleet moves up the Seine, and all over the country viciousness is growing. Rouen has been devastated, plundered and sacked. Paris, Beauvais and Meaux are captured, the strong fortress of Melun has been razed to the ground, Chartres is occupied, Evreux and Bayeux plundered and all towns besieged.
The English:
In 1174, Berwick was paid as part of the ransom of William I of Scotland to Henry II of England. It was sold back to Scotland by Richard I of England, to raise money to pay for Crusades. It was destroyed in 1216 by King John of England, who attended in person the razing of the town with some barbarity.
The Mongols:
Yet before this, the Rus had a chance to change their fate. It was around 1219 when the Mongols first entered the areas nearest Kievan Russia in a move against the Polovtsy, who, in turn, asked for the assistance of the Rus princes. A council of princes convened in Kiev to consider the request, an act which worried the Mongols. According to historical sources, the Mongols declared that they had not attacked the cities or people of the Rus nor attacked their lands. The Mongol envoys requested peace of the Russian princes. Yet the princes did not trust the Mongols, suspecting that the Mongol advance would continue into Rus. Subsequently, the Mongol emissaries were promptly killed and any chance for peace was destroyed at the hands of the princes of the fractured Kievan state. Within twenty years, Batu Khan marched from Mongolia with an army of 200,000 men. One by one, Russian principalities such as Ryazan, Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal, and Rostov fell to the Batu and his armies. The armies looted and razed the cities, slaughtered the people, and took many as prisoners and slaves. The Mongols eventually captured, sacked, and destroyed Kiev, the symbolic center of Kievan Russia.
The British (1776 American Revolution)
Brunswick was razed by British troops in 1776 and never rebuilt.
The British (1812):
Over the next three weeks, the British army carried out a campaign of fire and sword on the American side of the Niagara River, first capturing Fort Niagara by a brilliant feat of arms and then razing every habitation between Lakes Ontario and Erie, including the village of Buffalo.
Yup no war on civilians there.

The French (1812 - burned Moscow):
Ivan Katayev (1911) summarized losses as 3/4 of all properties in the city:

* 6,496 of 9,151 private houses (this total included 6,584 wooden and 2,567 brick buildings)

* 8,251 retail shops and warehouses (including most of Kitai-gorod and Zamoskvorechye business districts)

* 122 of 329 churches (counting total losses only)
Our Civil War (Sherman’s march), one town’s experience (Cheraw, SC):
Sherman himself and almost his entire army stayed in Cheraw for several days. One soldier wrote that Cheraw was “a pleasant town and an old one with the southern aristocratic bearing”. Other Yankee soldiers referred to Cheraw as a “treasure house,” because of all the valuables found stored here from around the state. The Union soldiers celebrated Lincoln’s 2nd inauguration here, drinking captured wine, firing cannon and looting.
Heh ... yup, absolutely no one, no one I tell you, made war on civilians prior to WWI. Nope, it just didn’t happen. We just didn’t do it, we just didn’t do it.

Yeesh.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Rather vague questions, eh? Nice dodge.

Erb - Simply: the age of state to state warfare like we saw through WWII is over.

Really? State to state warfare essentially ended in 1945? That’s quite a surprise to me, and I think would be to anybody with a passing familiarity with the history of the last half-century. Let’s see:

1948 - Arab-Israeli War

1950 - Korean War

1956 - Soviet invasion of Hungary

1965 - Kashmir Conflict

1968 - Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia

1965 - Vietnam War

1967 - Six Day War

1973 - Yom Kippur War

1979 - Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

1982 - Falklands War

1990 - Iraq invasion of Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm

This is only a partial list of the wars fought between states since 1945, and doesn’t include wars fought between nations and extra-national proxies, such as the war between the Republic of Vietnam and the Viet Cong. Further, it does not include the fact that there was a lengthy Cold War between east and west which many people thought (expected) would result in World War III.

Now, would you like to reconsider your statement that "the age of state to state warfare like we saw through WWII is over"?

You seem to be making the argument that even the most bitter rivals can become fast friends. This is unquestionable. However, there is nothing inevitable about it, and it often results from the same basic cause of war:

Self-interest.

Countries fight because they want something: territory, prestige, natural resources, security, etc. If they find that they can get these things without resorting to war, they will do so. If, however, they find that peaceful means will NOT get them what they want... Well, that’s what armies are for. Or, if you haven’t got an "army" (or know that your army will be beaten by your opponent), then you try the terrorist / guerrilla route.

You use the example of Poland and Germany. WHY are they friends now? Did some Good Fairy wave a handful of pixie dust over them that made Germans and Poles wake up one morning and decide that love is better than war? No: German aggression toward Poland resulted in Germany getting its ass kicked, and then Germany and Poland were absorbed into power blocks that tried to avoid open war with each other due to a balance of terror. Note the motive of self-interest: "I don’t want to be destroyed, so I won’t start a war." At present, Germany and Poland get more from cooperation than they do from conflict; they have no particular reason to fight.

What are the self-interests of Israel and the Palis? Easy: both want the territory claimed by Israel, with the more bloodthirsty of the Palis also wanting the bonus of living in a Joooooo-free world. There is little or no room for compromise. The two sides fight because they have no reason to cooperate. Unless and until (A) one side defeats the other and imposes a peace or (B) some outside agency imposes a peace on them, they will continue to fight. There is no magical "destiny" that makes war between them especially foolish or self-destructive: they will stop fighting when one side wins, or both sides determine that peace is more profitable than war.

Erb - One stat really stands out. Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel. Now it’s up to about 80% civilian (a bit more or less depending on the study). That’s a huge stat showing that war has changed.

Hmmm... I think you are wrong about this, or at least being rather selective in your evidence. The idea that civilians should somehow be exempt from the hard hand of war is an Enlightenment-era idea that would have been as bizzare to the conquerers of the ancient world as it would have been to Stalin (or Eisenhower, for that matter). Consider the massacres and enslavements carried out variously by the Greeks, Romans, Mongolians, Crusaders, etc.
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.

And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.

And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.

Joshua VI:20 - 24
Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
Take pity of your town and of your people,
Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
O’erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil and villany.
If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dash’d to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy’d?

Henry V, Act III, scene 3
Besides that, the towns ought to be burnt which were not secured against every danger by their fortifications or natural advantages; that there should not be places of retreat for their own countrymen for declining military service, nor be exposed to the Romans as inducements to carry off abundance of provisions and plunder. If these sacrifices should appear heavy or galling, that they ought to consider it much more distressing that their wives and children should be dragged off to slavery, and themselves slain; the evils which must necessarily befall the conquered.

Julius Caesar
De Bello Gallico
The only difference between the wars of ancient times in which civilians were deliberately targeted and the wars of today is the weapons used and the fact that (most) modern armies do not makes slaves of their captives.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Well...
well...
ummmmmm

...he’s NOT a military history professor!

War and Politics are just two completely different subjects!

So...excuuuuuuuuuse him if he’s wrong on a couple of small quibbly little points!

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Silly people. You are all wrong. The fact that you do not have any letters after your names proves it.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
A couple of points: the study of interstate war that looks at death usually dates from either 1648 (birth of the sovereign nation state) or even later (the most important data base is the correlates of war program). Clearly there was barbarism in the more distant past, but that was also well before the advent of modern war. Indeed, that reinforces my point that warfare changes as technology and political organization change.

In ancient times war was still relatively rare — but of course history focuses on when war occurs. Avoid the fallacy of arguing by example — people can always cherry pick counter-examples, but that really is meaningless. (It’s like global warming — a hot summer doesn’t prove it exists any more than a cold summer proves it doesn’t)/ A systematic study really is necessary to make generalizable statements (the best study of warfare along those lines is the University of Michigan’s Correlates of War program).

Now to a couple of your points: the era of state to state warfare like we had to 1945 is over. That is a rather recent phenomenon, in Europe it ended by the sixties with the rise of the EU, in the Mideast the end of the Arab-Israeli wars and the rise of terror groups has changed the equation, and we see the ineffectiveness in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The US military is adapting, but war as a phenomenon is different now than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries in fundamental ways. That also means that US power is much less than it may seem on paper. We can defeat militaries, but how much can we really use the military to control political results?

As for self-interest as a cause of war...that begs the question of how does self-interest get defined. That can be cultural (two sides can’t agree on which God is the real one), territorial, and is intimately tied to the economic and social system. For instance, a militarist culture glorifies war and military personnel as honorable, thus making murder for gain seem something good and praiseworthy. You see that in what I think an almost criminal attempt to recruit high school students to the military, treating it like a kind of heroic mythical endeavor, rather than being, essentially, paid killers for the state. Luckily, there are active groups working hard to stop that kind of recruitment, with techniques that to see seem abusive and dishonest. Cultures that do not see murder and killing as a legitimate means to an end, but only as something as a last resort for defense of territory and property, often are much less likely to resort to warfare.

Yet, while you correctly point out the barbarity in ancient times (at least in some cases), and certainly there examples of ruthlessness all over, most modern war between large state military forces led to primarily military deaths through WWI. That’s the world we’re emerging from. I do think it’s changing — I think the lessons from Iraq are leading to especially a younger generation of Americans far less willing to fall for the rah-rah rambo patriotism of the militarist. And, of course, an economic collapse does tend to diminish aggression. Israel’s choice of attacking Hamas is understandable, and makes sense from the old style notion of how wars work. But the key difference now is that in the past if you killed more of the enemy, the enemy weakened, and there were fewer to threaten you. With groups like Hamas, the more you kill, the more recruits and hearts they win, and it can increase their long term strength.

So consider this a test: if Israel defeats and defangs Hamas, and this leads to a better situation in Gaza, then I’ll come here and publically say my analysis was all wrong on this one, that Israel did undertake the right strategy. If not, then I ask for no public statement from you, but only for you to privately consider that perhaps there is some truth to my claim about how globalization and technology is changing the nature of war.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
consider that perhaps there is some truth to my claim about how globalization and technology is changing the nature of war.
’Scuse Me? I don’t think you know what war is - even from the lofty heights of your ivory tower.

I can source to you all sorts of difinitions but you can google on your own. Wikipedia (God, I hate that I am even saying this) has an extensive write-up on the definition of war. Go look it up yourself if you want - knock yourself out.

When you put a stick in the hands of a neanderthal and something he desires in another’s hands, you have the making of conflict. And conflict is war. Globalization and technology changes war only in the distance you can now kill and the ease at which you can effect that kill. Watching a screen in Nevada of an image transmitted to you from a Global Hawk orbitting over the mountanis of Pakistan and with the push of a button you can effectively kill someone on that screen from over 10,000 miles away. The dead are just as dead as if you had stood over them and bludgeoned them to death with a stick. Will that keep the next raghead from plotting the death of infidels in the future? No.

Globalization and technology will never change the nature of war - they will only change the tools and effects of war. Just like the invention of _____ (fill in the blank) will not change the nature of war - just the means by which it is carried out. The nature of war is far more basic than that - it is simply "I want what you got and I am going to take it!"

Seriously Erb, you really gotta get out more.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Seriously Erb, you really gotta get out more.
Well, he has a point of view and the facts be damned if they ruin it.

So basically, before WWI,
In ancient times war was still relatively rare
????
then I’ll come here and publically say my analysis was all wrong on this one,
You keep saying that on a number of topics (like the Surge for example!!) and have yet to do it, you welsher. Never happen

So first you say this:
Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel.
and then you say this:
most modern war between large state military forces led to primarily military deaths through WWI
Sure sounds like you are contradicting yourself and yet you say you are consistent.

 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Erb - ...the study of interstate war that looks at death usually dates from either 1648 (birth of the sovereign nation state) or even later (the most important data base is the correlates of war program). Clearly there was barbarism in the more distant past, but that was also well before the advent of modern war. Indeed, that reinforces my point that warfare changes as technology and political organization change.

1. Talk about cherry-picking. Also, how does one define "the sovereign nation state"? I expect that the Romans thought that their republic / empire was a sovereign nation state. Ditto the Greeks in their various city-states. Is this how you excuse Hamas? By using a highly selective definition of what constitutes a state; if they aren’t a "state", then Israel can’t defeat them because a state can only defeat another state?

2. "Barbarism in the past". Ah. So, if Roman legions sack a Goth village and slaughter or enslave all the inhabitants, or if Crusaders butcher every man, woman and child in a city that they "liberate in the name of God", then that’s just "barbarism".

I submit to you that war, whether (as Sshiell points out) it is people beating each other to death with sticks or blasting each other out of existence with PGM’s, is barbarism. This is why smart people do what they can to avoid it.

On this line, what (if any) is the difference between the following incidents:

1. The siege and sack of Béziers by Albigensian crusaders in 1209, which resulted in the massacre of as many as 70,000 people (estimates vary widely because accurate records were not kept);

2. The bombing by the US and British air forces of Dresden in 1945, which resulted in the deaths of as many as 40,000 people

I’d say that both were pretty barbaric, wouldn’t you? Both also led to the goals of the leaders who ordered them, so both were "justified" in the eyes of the victors (though the vanquished doubtless didn’t feel that way).

Sshiell is right: despite your apparent belief that war is somehow different today than it was seventy years ago, the only thing that has changed in war is the weapons.

Erb - Now to a couple of your points: the era of state to state warfare like we had to 1945 is over. That is a rather recent phenomenon, in Europe it ended by the sixties with the rise of the EU...

Are you trying to claim that an associated block of nations cannot / will not fight a war? If so, then please explain this in the context of the Triple Entente or NATO.

Erb - ... in the Mideast the end of the Arab-Israeli wars and the rise of terror groups has changed the equation, and we see the ineffectiveness in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The US military is adapting, but war as a phenomenon is different now than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries in fundamental ways.

1. Has "terrorism" (indiscriminte killing of civilians; assassination; use of paramilitary / quasi-military forces acting outside of total "state" control) ever been used in history? The answer, obviously, is "yes". The only difference is that terrorism seems "real" to us when we live through it, and "unreal" when we read about Irish "terrorists" in the early part of the 20th century, or Jewish "terrorists" operating in Palestine after WWII, or French "terrorists" fighting the Germans during WWII.

2. I suggest that you read about the Jacobbite Rebellion and the Duke of Cumberland’s response to it. Wiki has this to say:
Arriving in Edinburgh on 30 January 1746, [the Duke] at once proceeded in search of the Young Pretender. He made a detour to Aberdeen, where he spent some time training the well-equipped forces now under his command for the peculiar nature of the warfare in which they were about to engage. He prepared his army to withstand the aggressive charges on which all Highland successes depended and he reorganised the forces and restored their discipline and self-confidence.
:
:
Like Oliver Cromwell in Ireland, Cumberland dared to act in a way which would be held against him by some for the rest of his life, and terrorised an obstinate and unyielding enemy into submission. How real the danger of a protracted guerilla war in the Highlands was may be judged from the explicit declarations of Jacobite leaders that they intended to continue the struggle. As it was, the war came to an end almost at once, and most of the populations of Scotland, England, and the colonies, however, lionised him as their deliverer from the Jacobite menace - for instance, he received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow. [emphasis mine - dj505]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_William,_Duke_of_Cumberland#Battle_of_Fontenoy
An army adapted to the "peculiar" tactics of its enemy? Why, that sounds like the US military of today! Imagine that! History DOES repeat itself. Please refer to the US-Filipino War in the early part of the 20th century for another example.

Erb - That also means that US power is much less than it may seem on paper. We can defeat militaries, but how much can we really use the military to control political results?

Um... Using the military to control political results is what war IS (please see von Clausewitz on this subject). It is not always simple or easy, nor does it always work the way you expect. For example, the Allies were able to defeat Imperial Germany, but NOT able to impose a lasting peace on Europe after 1918. Various explanations for this have been put forward over the years, but the one believed by the Allies during World War II is that Germany was not defeated thoroughly enough and no steps were taken to remake German society into something rather less aggressive. Hence, the Allies after 1945 de-nazified Germany and ruled the country for years until they felt reasonably sure that Germany would not produce Hitler v2.0 and start World War III sometime in the 1960s. It worked out fairly well.

I would argue that the Israelis consistently make the same mistake relative to the Palis that the Allies made in 1919: they are not crushing their enemy thoroughly enough. I hate to cite damned yankees, but Sherman and Grant understood this concept quite well when they took "the hard hand of war" to the Southern people, with the ultimately happy result that the South was brought back into the Union and slavery was ended.

Erb - As for self-interest as a cause of war...that begs the question of how does self-interest get defined. That can be cultural (two sides can’t agree on which God is the real one), territorial, and is intimately tied to the economic and social system.

Excellent. You arrive at a fundamental and simple truth. People fight for their self-interests. Those self-interests may not always be the same, and may not even be really comprehensible to their enemies ("you are seriously trying to kill me because you think your god wants you to???"), but the self-interest is there. Now, apply this to the Israeli-Pali problem. What are their self-interests? How can they be satisified by anything short of military "victory"?

Erb - You see that in what I think an almost criminal attempt to recruit high school students to the military...

Surprise, surprise...

Erb - Cultures that do not see murder and killing as a legitimate means to an end, but only as something as a last resort for defense of territory and property, often are much less likely to resort to warfare.

Um... Yes. Most people don’t especially relish killing perfect strangers. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking that "destiny" or some other imaginary advance in "civilization" removes the will to do so. I would say that even cultures that do "enjoy" battle (the Zulus, for example) do not blithely go to war: they have some casus bellum. It may seem a slight pretext, but they have it.

Self-interest. Keep this phrase clearly in mind, and you’ll start to understand war and peace.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
"In ancient times war was still relatively rare"

Possibly because literacy was also rare.


"Talk about cherry-picking."

Yep. Also known as backpedaling, obfuscation, etc. Call it argument by redefinition. Sooner or later there will be so many qualifications and idiosyncratic definitions and adjectives that it will be impossible to make remember what the original point was. This is what passes for rigorous analysis and thoughtful debate in the rarefied air (hypoxia, no doubt) of the Halls of Academe. Once again I am reminded of an even more distinguished Professor, Prof. Irwin Corey, The World’s Foremost Authority.


"(please see von Clausewitz on this subject)"

Naughty, naughty. Dead white males are so unPC. Besides, he is German, so how could he know who he is?

"(the Zulus, for example)"

Now that you mention the Zulus,

" Clearly there was barbarism in the more distant past, but that was also well before the advent of modern war"

Evidently those poor, benighted third world innocents do not qualify to be included with Europeans. A little racism, perhaps? Ethnocentrism? Wogs don’t have states or war?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Actually in IR theory we posit Clausewitz vs. Morgenthau. Hans Morgenthau, the father of modern political realism (looking at 19th century Europe and Metternich’s Concert of Europe) argues against Clausewitz’s dictim that war is another means of politics. Morgenthau, writing after WWII, notes that war is the failure of politics — and that tradition has defined most realist thinking since then.

Of course, none of anything you wrote denies my point: a) the number of civilian deaths overall have been growing due to changes in technology and globalization; b) major war has become unlikely between two states because self-interest has changed. Now, most states would harm themselves by attacking others; and c) the Iraq war (as well as Vietnam, the Soviets and now NATO in Afghanistan) shows that huge militaries can have major problems if they go into a different culture and deal with militias, or try to define the goal of the conflict as more than defeating another military.

In old war: the US defeated Iraq in 2003, in less than a month. In less than a year the leader and his sons had been eliminated.

New war: we redefine the goals to ’socially engineer’ society, to try to rebuild, create a new ally, spread democracy. That led to mass violence, probably over 100,000 needlessly dead Iraqis, and a situation now that is precarious, with Iraq defacto divided in three, laws more repressive to women than under Saddam, a government with no real penetration, and Iran in a dominant position. The US is finding a face saving way out, but the damage done to the US economy, US status in the world, and of course the Republican party is immense.

Afghanistan: we supposedly won in 2001, but now look. Somalia. Vietnam. The inability of the Soviet Union to keep its empire.

It’s a new world. You seem to think pointing to past terrorism or atrocities somehow denies the specific points I’m making. It doesn’t even address them! Also, the media shows people in real time the HUMAN cost of war. People can’t be Stalinist and merely sniff "that’s war" when statistics are told. We see the suffering, we see the injuries, we see the dead. Those images get used by both sides as propaganda right away. That’s altered war as well.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://scotterb.wordpress.com
Of course, none of anything you wrote denies my point: a) the number of civilian deaths overall have been growing due to changes in technology and globalization;
You really don’t read anything that people respond with do you. Well I guess that either you are fact adverse or as Dean Wormer would say, "fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, Son".
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Erb - Actually in IR theory we posit Clausewitz vs. Morgenthau. Hans Morgenthau, the father of modern political realism (looking at 19th century Europe and Metternich’s Concert of Europe) argues against Clausewitz’s dictim that war is another means of politics. Morgenthau, writing after WWII, notes that war is the failure of politics — and that tradition has defined most realist thinking since then.

You have your "experts", I have mine. Whether war is politics by other means or the result when politics fail, the basic point is still the same: people wage war out of self-interest.

The fact that (according to you) "major war has become unlikely between two states because self-interest has changed" depends on complete lack of definition of "self-interest". Are you claiming that, for example, the self-interests of Germany in 2009 are any different than they were in 1939 or 1914? Does not Germany still want raw materials? Security? International prestige? They may not have a living tradition of either naziism or Prussian militarism just as we no longer have a philosophy of Manifest Destiny or Britain no longer has "Rule Britannia", but Germans want many of the same things that they (and everybody else) have always wanted. The proof lies in the fact that Germany maintains a small but modern and professional military. Obviously, SOMEBODY in Berlin thinks that Germany may have to wage war at some point.

I would also observe that you’ve backpedaled to some extent. Earlier, you claimed that war between states essentially ended in 1945. Now, you claim that it is "unlikely". Perhaps, if we keep going, you will reach a point where your best claim is that, to your knowledge, no state is planning to start a war with another state at 2:13pm tomorrow.

I would say that to the extent that it has become "unlikely", this is ONLY because (A) many "western" countries have developed an anti-war ethic and, more importantly, (B) the world economy is such that peace is more profitable than war.

Unfortunately, this argument has been made before. If you are not familiar with Tuchman’s The Guns of August, I strongly advise reading her description of Norman Angell’s book The Great Illusion and its impact on "progressive" European attitudes about war. Wiki cites the 1913 synopsis of the book:
He establishes this apparent paradox, in so far as the economic problem is concerned, by showing that wealth in the economically civilized world is founded upon credit and commercial contract (these being the outgrowth of an economic interdependence due to the increasing division of labor and greatly developed communication). If credit and commercial contract are tampered with in an attempt at confiscation, the credit-dependent wealth is undermined, and its collapse involves that of the conqueror; so that if conquest is not to be self-injurious it must respect the enemy’s property, in which case it becomes economically futile. Thus the wealth of conquered territory remains in the hands of the population of such territory. When Germany annexed Alsatia, no individual German secured a single mark’s worth of Alsatian property as the spoils of war. Conquest in the modern world is a process of multiplying by x, and then obtaining the original figure by dividing by x. For a modern nation to add to its territory no more adds to the wealth of the people of such nation than it would add to the wealth of Londoners if the City of London were to annex the county of Hertford.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Angell
Angell made a very similar argument to yours (absent the metaphysical element of "destiny"), i.e. that war between states would be so injurious even to the victor that no nation with a sane leadership would embark on a war. Keep in mind that Europe hadn’t seen a major war in almost a century; there were international conventions regarding the conduct of war that had never existed before; there were diplomatic channels, commercial contacts, and cultural similarities between the European powers that would have been virtually unthinkable a century or two earlier. Industrialization was quickly increasing the standard of living all across Europe. There was every reason for an optimist to think that war in Europe between states would be unlikely if not impossible. Yet, as we know, within five years of the publication of this edition of Angell’s book, something like 15 million people were dead as a direct result of a massive war between states, with many more to die as an indirect result.

It’s NOT a "new world", Prof. Erb. The only things that have changed are the names on the maps and the methods used to wage war. The basic human impulse that leads people to assert their self-interests by force when other methods fail is quite alive and well. Clausewitz recognizes this:
Therefore, if we find civilised nations do not put their prisoners to death, do not devastate towns and countries, this is because their intelligence exercises greater influence on their mode of carrying on war, and has taught them more effectual means of applying force than these rude acts of mere instinct. The invention of gunpowder, the constant progress of improvements in the construction of firearms are sufficient proofs that the tendency to destroy the adversary which lies at the bottom of the conception of war, is in no way changed or modified through the progress of civilisation.

Karl von Clausewitz
On War (trans. Col. J.J. Graham)
http://www.clausewitz.com/CWZHOME/VomKriege2/BK1ch01.html
Erb - Of course, none of anything you wrote denies my point: a) the number of civilian deaths overall have been growing due to changes in technology and globalization...

Well, actually your point was: Until WWI almost all deaths in war were military personnel. Now it’s up to about 80% civilian (a bit more or less depending on the study). That’s a huge stat showing that war has changed.

I will surprise you and say that you’re right to a certain extent: the number of civilian deaths has been increasing due to changes in technology because it’s much easier to kill people in large numbers today than it was even a century ago. However, this is NOT an indicator that "war has changed". It has simply gotten more bloody because, even while the weapons have become more effective, the numbers of civilians has also grown along with their concentration into cities and urban areas that are subject to attack. Further, the idea that civilians are to be left alone in war is something of an anomaly in human history: it is an Enlightenment-era ideal that collapsed as early as 1864 when the yankees began to deliberately target the civilian infrastructure of the South. The echoes of this ideal are still with us; "civilized" nations try to fight "clean" wars when they can. When they can’t... Well, they engage in unrestricted submarine warfare, bombings of cities, concentration camps, reprisals, etc - forms of war that, aside from the technological means, would have been pretty familiar to Caesar or Genghis Khan.

I note that our own country expends considerable time and money in trying to minimize civilian casualties by using precision-guided weapons and smaller but smarter bombs. The Israelis do much the same (Gaza would be a smoking wasteland if Israel employed the weapons and tactics used by both sides during World War II, or even during the 30 Years War for that matter).

Erb - ... the media shows people in real time the HUMAN cost of war. People can’t be Stalinist and merely sniff "that’s war" when statistics are told. We see the suffering, we see the injuries, we see the dead. Those images get used by both sides as propaganda right away. That’s altered war as well.

Once again, you seem to think that there’s something new under the sun. Propaganda has been used in war before now. TV makes it faster and more effective, but newspapers used to run stories (real, embellished, or outright fabrications) of enemy "atrocities"; the only difference is that there weren’t full-color moving images on the TV. Some of the most effective propaganda images in history are newspaper cartoons from World War I; Goebbels is infamous for his mastery of propaganda during World War II before the advent of TV. Americans saw newsreel footage from battles during World War II that, in some cases, showed the smoldering, mutilated bodies of Japanese soldiers killed in combat with our Marines and soldiers. Rather than horror, I think that most Americans felt a sense of grim satisfaction: "That’s one more Jap who won’t kill an American!"

Perhaps you are trying to make the argument that people are more "civilized" today than in the past and rebel against the idea of slaughter and mayhem. I suspect, however, that if you asked a German guard at Auschwitz, he would have claimed to be quite civilized. Ditto if you asked an American soldier fighting in our bloody war with the Filipinos, or a Commonwealth soldier herding Boer civilians into concentration camps. I presume that Israelis and Palestinians can see the carnage they are causing on their televisions; why do they continue with the fight? Are they somehow morally degenerate? Inherently wicked? Savages?

Erb - In old war: the US defeated Iraq in 2003, in less than a month. In less than a year the leader and his sons had been eliminated.

New war: we redefine the goals to ’socially engineer’ society, to try to rebuild, create a new ally, spread democracy. That led to mass violence, probably over 100,000 needlessly dead Iraqis, and a situation now that is precarious, with Iraq defacto divided in three, laws more repressive to women than under Saddam, a government with no real penetration, and Iran in a dominant position. The US is finding a face saving way out, but the damage done to the US economy, US status in the world, and of course the Republican party is immense.


The goals of the United States in our "new war" would have been quite familiar to Romans who "socially engineered" much of Europe and the Mediterranean world. That laws throughout Europe still have echoes of Roman law indicates the degree of success Rome had. An important difference is that we are not treating Iraq as an American colony with an American proconsul, but rather trying what worked in Germany and Japan after World War II. Once again, there’s nothing new here. I appreciate your need to gloat over US "failure", but don’t make the mistake of thinking that we’re doing something unprecedented in the history of the world.

You say that I’m not addressing your specific points. Frankly, I think that I and other commentors demolish them. You claim that:

1. War between states is (at best) unlikely in the modern era

2. War is somehow fundamentally different today than it was in the past

3. Civilians are increasingly made deliberate targets in war as evidenced by the increasing civilian casualties in modern war

4. That, somehow, these points demonstrate that Israel can’t beat the Palis, or some such

Other than hand-waving that amounts to, "I’m right because I say so!", you have offered little or no factual evidence or examples to back up most of your claims. What evidence you DO offer can be taken as supporting MY positions, or at the very least be explained by other factors.

Keep trying. Hopefully, the experience will make your course a bit more worthwhile for your students.
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
"war is the failure of politics"

Nope. Failure of diplomacy, maybe. War is a political act, and politics directs how it is waged and ended.

"major war has become unlikely between two states because self-interest has changed"

Horse hockey. Self-interest changes all the time, and it is not up to you to define it for anyone else.


*********************************

"you’ve backpedaled to some extent"

SOP. First, come up with some sweeping generalization, then when it is challenged backtrack, redefine, modify, deny, obfuscate (the fog of war, heh), etc. and retreat like a squid behind a cloud of ink.



Nice article, docjim.



 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
timactual,

Thank you. I’ve enjoyed it.

The scary thing is that there are quite a few people who think believe the same things as Erb and they VOTE. I wonder about the mental process they go through. I am reminded of Colonel DuBois’ reaction to a student informing him that "violence never solves anything" in Starship Troopers: he quickly demolished the idea with a few historical examples of when violence most certainly DID solve a problem. Though Heinlein doesn’t go on to discuss the fictional student’s response, we can suppose that she was NOT convinced because she had doubtless learned the maxim from earliest childhood, and early childhood beliefs are difficult to shake.

My guess is that Erb never encountered a Colonel DuBois when he was a youngster, and now he has plenty of fellow faculty members to reassure him that violence never solves anything and that the hateful old man who told him the contrary is just a burned-out, ultra-right-wing Christian redneck conservative who lost his hand (serves him right!) because he swallowed the military’s lies about martial glory and volunteered to be a paid killer for the state. Pay no attention to HIM.

By the way, Erb: if soldiers are nothing but paid killers for the state, what is your view of police officers?
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
You continue to treat Erb as though he argues in good faith, and can be persuaded by evidence... neither of which, by all examples to date, is true.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://

 
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