In Defense of Civilian Deaths

From Meet the Press, Sunday July 30, 2006

Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman:

“We want a prosperous, vibrant, entrepreneurial, prosperous Lebanon next to us. But in order for that to happen, they have to rid themself of that horrible monster which has grown within them and which, at the end of the day, has caused them so much pain and suffering over the years.”

Perhaps a metaphor is in order. Suppose a person has cancer. The group of cells, relative to the size of his (or her….whenever I say “his” I mean his or her) body is small. Nevertheless, it has the potential to grow, multiply and ultimately kill its host. There is no question that the cancer should be attacked and removed, however possible. Sometimes, if the cancer is contained, it can be removed surgically. Sometimes, it can be targeted with direct and focused radiation. And sometimes, chemotherapy is in order.

Chemotherapy is poison. It kills many cells in the body. The patient gets tired, loses his hair, gets nauseas. The whole body is affected. The poison tries to target the cancer, and hopefully kills it as well, but it also kills some “innocent” cells.

Would anybody in their right mind urge “restraint”, blanch at the killing of innocent hair cells, if the Doctor (the expert who knows such things) said that the best way to attack the cancer, the disease that has infiltrated the body and can’t just be excised surgically, is to poison the body to kill the cancer? Would anyone accept such terrible advice? Of course not. Sacrificing hair to have a better chance at life is a no-brainer. The doctor admits that it will be tough. The patient will feel absolutely horrendous. But the only way to ensure long term health is remove the cancer, and means that the patient has to lose his hair.

The death of Lebanese civilians is tragic. But Hezbollah is a metastatic cancer. It has infiltrated. It stores weapons in civilian homes. It takes cover in UN bunkers (not to get into the UN that allows it… see here). It uses civilians as shields. It can’t be cut out surgically. What Israel is doing now is chemo for Lebanon, something Lebanon couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do itself. Yes, innocent people will die, but it is for the good of the country, the region and the world.

(Formerly titled: On the Use of Proportionate Force)

Hattip: Adam



6 responses to “In Defense of Civilian Deaths

  1. I think the term “proportionate” gets misused. The question should not be whether more people are dying on one side of the border than the other. The question should be whether one country is using the proper amount of force necessary to achieve its legitimate objectives – i.e. preventing missiles from being launched against your civilian population – without going over the top and intentionally causing more damage and carnage than necessary. Naturally, one side will always face a disproportionate effect – that’s why one side wins, and the other loses! The question is, Is it necessary for Israel to bomb so close to residential areas? And the answer is that if the terrorists are operating there, then yes, it is necessary and therefore proportionate. Sadly, the unintended consequences of civilian deaths are still part of a proportionate response, if the terrorists are intentionally hiding there and putting them on the field of battle.

  2. I think you’re absolutely right. My use of the term was a misnomer. What I should have said was “in defense of civilian deaths.”

  3. Here’s the thing I don’t get in all of this. Why do we all take for granted the fact that we have to take care not to topple Lebanon’s government, and that Lebanon’s government must be propped up, etc?

    We assume that Lebanon’s government is a precious commodity. We assume that Lebanon is the innocent victim in all of this, and that they detest Hezbollah, and would not hesitate to uproot them, if they would only be powerful enough to do so.

    I am skeptical. Let’s review:
    -In the past year, did Lebanon’s P.M. once cry out to the “Internationl Community”/U.N. for help in uprooting Hezbollah, a terrorist organization operating within their borders?
    – The P.M. showed his true colors early on in the conflict, when he declared that if Israel were to invade, the Lebanese…ahem, army would fight alongside Hezbollah. Now, tell me- if they really wanted to rid themselves of Hezbollah, why would they not seize the opportunity to do so?
    -Then, to top it all off, there’s this: Lebanon prime minister praises Hezbollah, slams Israel

    All I know is, I’m getting sick and tired of hearing from this Sionara guy.

  4. Moishe, your question is important. I think the reason that the Lebanese government needs international and Israeli support is because the alternative is worse.

    Israel risks, by causing too much damage or civilian outcry, chasing the Lebanese into the welcoming arms of Syria. If the Anti-Syria government is weakened to the point that Syria can once again exert influence, that isn’t in Israel’s best interests.

    For that reason, Israel should be careful not to topple the Lebanese government. While it may be more of an enemy than an ally right now, it could get much, much worse.

  5. I just noticed my link has an extra http:// doohickey. Sorry about that, my html is less than stellar.

  6. It think what your trying to say is if the Lebanese would smoke some weed there would be less civilian casualties.

    Seriously, it’s a good analogy. We all know the truth and the world (at least the truly honest and rational part of it) are starting to get it. Despite the public outcry (against Israel) many more than in the past are supporting Israel if not explicitly, than implicitly. Some former General on Fox News last night said that the Egyptians and the Saudis continue to give Israel the green light to rid lebanon of Hezbollah. He implied that it was more than the initial condemnation of Hezbollah but a continued (although quiet) support given to Olmert. I was pleasently surprised to hear that although he did not give any sources


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