Sunday, July 23, 2006


Moral Clarity

Ed Morrissey's essay, "A 'Continuum Of Civilianality'?" points readers to Alan Dershowitz' latest challenge to intellectual laziness, presently evident in the almost universal condemnation of Israel for something called "disproportionate force".
...Dershowitz is not discussing reprisals against unarmed civilians, which are rightly war crimes. He wants a distinction made between civilians killed in the course of battles as to their involvement with the engagement, especially in terms of terrorist attacks. That sounds good in theory, and one could easily apply the same concept in Iraq -- where many of those killed during battles harbored insurgents, if not actively assisted them in targeting Americans or other Iraqis. One could also apply the same thought process in Afghanistan, and pretty much any place where terrorists stage attacks that get military responses.

In practice, however, it becomes much more difficult to do. One cannot interrogate dead people, and the bombs tend to destroy most of the evidence along with the civilians. Witnesses, such as neighbors and family, tend to see their loved ones as complete victims. It would be hard to imagine a Lebanese woman telling CNN that her dead husband often helped Hezbollah move arms or ammunition and therefore his death was justified.

Dershowitz obviously understands this. What he wants is the media to recognize the "continuum of civilianality" when reporting on war in general, and the Israeli conflicts specifically. I would find it helpful if the media remembered that the reason Israel attacks residential areas is because Hezbollah hides its operations in those areas to keep Israel from attacking them. That doesn't reflect on the status of the civilians in the area; it puts the blame on the casualties on the correct party -- the ones who base their attacks and hide their command and control positions among civilians.
Those who condemn Israel should remember that whenever images of Beirut flash across their television screens.

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