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How is "a nation...undoubtedly responsible for predatory acts committed against another nation by groups operating openly on the nation's territory." if that nation is unable to stop such groups?

It is clear in the case of Afghanistan that the Taliban were responsible for the al-Qaeda presence in the sense that they condoned it, but its not at all clear that the Lebanese government, or the population, would be capable of expelling Hezbollah apart from the question of whether they are willing.

Even assuming that host nation is so responsible as a given, the current Israeli policy would have to be deemed "unreasonable". According to your own criteria for the "reasonableness" of the punisher's course of action the Lebanese are not a proper candidate for collective punishment: Israel has now and did have other options, the amount of punishment they are inflicting is exponentially disproportionate, and the punishment has near-zero likelihood to prevent similar attacks in the future. If anything it will make similar attacks more likely. If it weren't for your last criterion Lebanon would have a much better case for attacking Israel than vice versa.

Also, your last paragraph I think misses the point of the violence in southern Lebanon. The Lebanese aren't fleeing to avoid collective punishment. Being forced to flee is their collective punishment. Or part of it at least.

At any rate it is not in the punisher's interest in this case. Israel won't have a "freer hand" in dealing with Hezbollah once they've forcibly relocated the population because Hezbollah will have relocated as well.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of how and why guerrilla warfare works knows this. Someone of your intellectual caliber should know it. The Israeli military certainly knows it. And since they do the logical question for those not privy to their actual motives is: "why are they forcibly relocating the population if not for the reasons stated?"

Lastly even if it were in the punisher's interest in this case in the way you stated, that still wouldn't adequately explain or justify the destruction of Beirut and the areas in which Hezbollah has little to no presence or influence.


I don't agree with any of Josh's arguments. There are very few options Israel has. They can leave Hezbollah alone and accept regular attacks or far worse since Hezbollah knows it can do what it wants with impunity. (This is close to the strategy Israel has employed for the last few years.)

Or they can try to stop the attacks by token raids and bombings where there are no civilians anywhere near Hezbollah, which won't do much more than the strategy of doing nothing.

Or they can actually try to attack Hezbollah seriously, which will including attacking areas where Hezbollah uses civilians as shields. They should try to minimize hurting civilians (while we're at it, so should Hezbollah), but if they can't accept any collateral damage then they are essentially defenseless.

As to Lebanon being unable to do anything about Hezbollah, or for that matter, the influence of Syria and Iran, I'm not so sure. But if it's true, then it seems to me they can at least hope Israel rooting out this enemy in their midst can will work out better for them in the end. If, on the other hand, they knowingly made a pact with the devil, this is the kind of trouble that can follow.


Well, there's a good deal Israel could have done.

They could have negotiated for the prisoners discreetly through third party channels while prominently blowing up a handful of useless things to save face. They have done plenty of prisoner swaps before. Why not now? Are things really going so well in the region for Israel and the US at this moment that they think destabilization is good for them?

They could take a variety of indirect steps to strengthen the nascent Lebanese democracy and military, not cripple it, on the condition that it take substantive steps to establish a monopoly on violence in its own country. (diplomacy. horrors!)

They could have respected Lebanese sovereignty by not routinely violating its airspace and territorial waters, firing on its fishermen and sheperds and shelling its villages.

They could have settled the Sheba farms dispute. Certainly a little stolen farmland is a small price to pay for 30 Israeli lives, no?

They could do something about the thousands of kidnapped Lebanese rotting in Israeli jails without trial.

They could have not invaded and occupied Lebanon in the first place decades ago and given birth to Hezbollah.

Basically they could acknowledge that Hezbollah, like any guerrilla army, isn't a merely military entity and won't be eliminated using merely military means.

And they could acknowledge, as could most people here, that this has little to nothing to do with two captured soldiers and didn't start two weeks ago.

Just off the top of my head.

But let's assume they couldn't have done any of that. Let's put aside for the moment that many of the civilian deaths can't be justified as "collateral damage" since they're nowhere near Hezbollah areas and are instead collective punishment. Let's assume you're right, that they have only the options you list.

Let's even go further and say that options 1 and 2 (doing nothing, and doing something equivalent) are off the table and that the third, massive retaliation, is the only option.

Don't you think Nasrallah knows this? Don't you think he's counting on it? Why in the world would you do something your enemy knows you are going to do? Wouldn't your enemy's wanting you to do something be at least reason to give you pause? Try something new? Something unexpected? If only to retake the initiative? If only for military reasons?

Your last paragraph assumes that any of Israel's current actions are going to meet with success in "rooting out" Hezbollah. Unless Israel is prepared to slaughter the entire Shia population of Lebanon, and I don't think they are, this objective will not be met.

And how is being "set back 20 years" (the stated aims of an Israeli general) going to work out better for Lebanon in the end, Hezbollah or no Hezbollah? What rational Lebanese leader would make such a trade at such risk? And even if they did, what electorate would support a quisling government that used a foreign army to suppress a political opponent?

You're giving the Lebanese a Hobson's choice and then claiming they deserve their punishment for what they've 'chosen'.


Collective Punishment tends to start a mental war in my mind. My libertarian side dislikes it as some people get punished for wrongful acts that they did not commit, but were only loosely involved. My economist side generally likes collective punishment because it provides incentives to minimize negative externalities.

The real problem comes with wrongful acts in which the main actor is judgment proof and the punishment falls fully on a party which only had a small indirect role. But the victim will not be compensated unless the “deep-pockets” party who had only a minor role.

However, victims have inherently “deep-pockets” as well (they can “pay” by not receiving compensation) and should also be given incentives to avoid wrongful acts. The default optimal solution seems to be that liabilities that stem from judgment proof parties should be equally split between the victims and the “deep-pocket” defendants, assuming that the court has already, or cannot because of lack of evidence, adjust the compensation for actual partial fault by the victim and the defendants that are judgment proof, and that prevention ability is about equal among the parties (or too costly to determine).


It terms of the Israel-Lebanon conflict, the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers was not the only wrong by Hezbollah, but also the fear that Hezbollah creates in Israel and the costs of Israel defenses that these fears create. Given the mass amounts of missiles fired by Hezbollah, and that Hezbollah is not an outlawed organization, it seems clear that the government and people of Lebanon give passive support to Hezbollah and need to be given stronger incentives to police them. However Israeli policies are also partly to blame for Hezbollah, and thus Israel also needs better incentives to minimize the costs of the conflict. But the government and people of Lebanon has much more influence on the conflict, and thus should pay most of the costs of the conflict, so that they have better incentives. If Lebanon is incapable of policing Hezbollah, then is should lose that part of its territory to a UN created zone or to Israel.


I fail to see how destroying the infrastructure of a country and terrorizing its populace gives them an incentive to disarm the only group that opposes the people who are destroying and terrorizing them.

Even assuming this would provide the proper incentive its not clear how a populace in flight, without basic services, and in mortal fear is going to disarm anyone, much less heavily armed, trained, and battle hardened fanatics.

And if you think the Lebanese military is going to do it then why are the Israelis attacking them as well?

There is no instance in history of a populace turning on its local guerrillas due to being punished collectively by a foreign force. It. doesn't. happen. There is no amount of "incentive" you can provide. You think the people of Lebanon are going to repudiate Hezbollah? For what? To be left to the tender mercies of the Israelis? Are you kidding? Would you do that if you were them?

Did Americans look at 9/11 and say to themselves "you know we've really been screwing the Middle East royally for decades. This mass murder has helped me see that. Let's change policy and throw out our government. We've got plenty of reason to believe that Osama will leave us alone if we have a revolution. While we're at it, let's trash the military machine that is our only hope of protection from these lunatics. After all they SAY they won't attack us if we leave them alone. Let's take them at their word!"

And if you say the incentive wasn't strong enough, how much destruction in American cities would have gotten Americans to utter those words do you think?

Or conversely, using your rationale, why don't we increase the reward instead of increasing the cost? Why not send massive amounts of military and economic aid to the Lebanese government to get them to abandon Hezbollah? Wouldn't that change the equation? Wouldn't that offer proper incentives? Why all stick and no carrot?

To assert that the formal government and the people of Lebanon have more influence on the conflict than the Israeli gov't is absurd on its face. The Israeli gov't with US backing is far and away the most powerful actor in this drama by any metric you choose. Even more awesome and terrible than their power is watching them submit themselves to the manipulations of armed religious fanatics.


Enough with the hand-wringing!
Imagine a corollary situation using Nazi Germany as an example: there are innocent victims., i.e., civilians who do not support that government, mixed in with everyone else such that they, too, are in the "line of fire" when the bombs drop. While tragic, the existence of such individuals did not prevent a "disproportionate" martial response by the Allies.
Innocent individuals in this situation should rightly be the ones who can either: emigrate, stay and overthrow the enemy, or be punished along with everyone else for their failure to acheive either of the first two objectives (thereby giving them the incentive to do so in the first place). Of course, those unable to emigrate or overthrow the enemy can never be the reason why a less than overwhelming military response comes about. The probable result of that overwhelming military response is a quicker victory and a more palatable post-war environment in the vanquished nation (something we do not currently have in Iraq).


The analogy to the collective punishment of employers for injuries caused by employees is not an appropriate one for the Israel-Lebanon conflict. That analygy is appropriate if the injured person -- Israel in this case -- is in no way responsible for the injury. Such does not seem to be the case here.


i think these arguments can be turned around to suit palestinians. surely suicide bombers would stop their collective punishment of innocent israelis if israel heeded their demands. one cannot just look at the incentives and outcomes in a situation. one needs principles on which to act.


Carrot incentives will backfire in the case of violent blackmail. The more one pays off the bullies, the more bullies will be attracted and demand postive incentives.


As Cicero so aptly put it some two thousand yeas ago, "In bellum lex silent", but such is the introduction to the Roman Articles of War. Nations since time immemorial have had to deal with such things. As for the U.S. there is the Articles of War and General Order 100 by Francis Lieber LLD of 1863 and has culminated in the UCMJ. and the Geneva Convention, etc. etc. Certainly, the Israeli's have similiar Laws of War. Can the same be said of Hezbollah?

As for the political facts, Hezbollah is the proxy government and military in S. Lebanon for Beirut. In reality, is the defacto government and military in this part of country.

Since Hezbollah is functioning as a proxy, ie, "agent" for the government in Beirut, it may be easy to confuse this with a simple agency problem that may exist in business law. But if one would use this analogy, I do believe that a great error has been made in the analysis. The same stands for similiar theories of punishment.

The question is, who attacked who, and does not a nation hve the right of self defense under international law? Cetainly an outright attack is a simple declaration of war (as the Japanese found out). As Cicero observed two thousand years ago, "In bellum Lex silent."

Arun Khanna

Israel Defense Forces action in Lebanon is an example of deterrence not collective punishment.


Collective punishment is a form of deterrence.

Lawrence Indyk, University of Kansas School of Law

Maybe collective punishment is useful and maybe it's not, but I think this chain of posts is as good an example as any of the tens of thousands on the web to show how to get an otherwise interesting issue for academic discussion totally overwhelmed by politics. An economic evaluation of the value of unmoderated internet discussions of anything Mideast-related would likely conclude that they are entirely without profit for everyone involved.


As I trust Judge Posner would agree, I have found that it is almost impossible to have a rational conversation with anyone when the subject turns to the Israeli-Arab conflict. Emotions are too high on everyone's side and obscure rational thinking. So, it is dangerous to use the current Israel-Hezbolla conflict as a proxy to discuss "collective punishment." Suffice it to say that, in a war, innocent civilians on both sides always get caught in the crossfire. War is regrettable and should be avoided unless necessary. Though, sometimes, it is necessary. Or else we would all be living under the Third Reich (or Fourth or Fifth) today.

The question of bombing civilians in wartime is a difficult philosophical problem that we will not solve today. It is a staple of college philosophy classes and will remain so. Though, the new twist is that some groups (gover nments or otherwise) routinely use civilian and even religious infrastructure to hide or house their weapons. That creates an added problem and changes the analysis, without doubt.

As to the merits of collective punishment in the legal system. As far as the criminal law is concerned, there should be no such thing. Contrary to Judge Posner's example, conspiracy and felony murder statutes do not impose collective punishment. Instead, they punish criminals for the reasonably foreseeable actions of their accomplices, which occur as consequences of the crimes in which each individual defendant agreed to participate. They are better viewed as part of the definition of "causation," not as some sort of collective punishment. Collective punishment implies voluntary blindness to the question whether an individual defendant bore any responsibility for a particular act. Due process would, most likely, preclude application of such a principle to criminal law.

As to civil liability, there are examples. For instance, the doctrine of respondeat superior, and legal fictions like "market share liability," sometimes impose collective punishment to deter certain substantial wrongs. Here, economic analysis is most useful, and the propriety of collective punishment depends on the gravity of the wrong and the effectiveness of the deterrence. All regulation is, in some sense, a collective "punishment" -- banning everyone from performing certain actions in order to further the collective good. There is nothing wrong in principle with such regulation, as long as it is well tailored.


Although vicarious liability as exemplified by the respondent superior doctrine and collective punishment under international law and Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention are, as you have effectively demonstrated, in certain ways analogous; they differ in several essential elements that I believe you have neglected to fully consider in your analysis. As a result, I must respectfully differ with your conclusion that collective punishment may be successfully defended as military or national policy upon such basis.

Firstly, the foundation of vicarious liability in almost all cases, as can be especially noted with the liability of an employer for the negligence of his employee in the legitimate course and scope of his employment and the liability of a conspirator for the acts of other conspirators in the furtherance of the conspiracy, is some affirmative and volitional act by the person to be held liable that is considered to justify the imposition of liability or punishment. Where such liability is imposed there normally is a sine quo non relationship between the affirmative act and the harm for which the person is the be held liable; i.e. but for the employment relationship there would have been no occasion for the employee to have harmed another through his negligence; but for the conspiracy there would have been no purpose to be furthered by the commission of the criminal act.

In the case of an employer liability is only imposed when the employee is acting in pursuit of the employer's ends. The employer in choosing to hire another to perform the acts necessary in pursuit of the employer's business does not escape the responsibility for the negative impacts that he should be able to foresee may result from the performance of those acts. Since the benefit of the employee's acts accrues to the employer when the employee acts in the legitimate course and scope of this employment, the liability for the foreseeable results of those acts can and should follow the benefit.

In the case of the conspirator there must be evidence of an agreement among the purported conspirators and of some affirmative action having been taken in furtherance of the conspiracy before anyone may be deemed a conspirator. Moreover, the criminal act with which the conspirator is to be held responsible despite having been performed without his knowledge or participation must have some relationship to the objects and purposes of the conspiracy. Although the conspirator may not have knowledge of any particular criminal act, he is considered to have agreed to the commission of any criminal act by any other member of the conspiracy by his agreement to participate in the criminal conspiracy. Without this agreement, which must be an affirmative and volitional act by the conspirator, there is no conspirator liability.

In the case of collective punishment, there is either no such affirmative action to justify the imposition of liability, or where such affirmative acts may be imagined to exist they are of a highly theoretical nature, i.e. a person born in a country may choose to emigrate if he finds groups whose acts or methods he disagrees with acting freely within that country's borders, or at most possess a very tenuous relationship to the harm for which the civilian population is being held responsible, i.e. they or their parents possess a vote in a representative political system or else possess some level of political participation or consent to be governed in a non-representation political system that in either case permits guerillas or terrorists to act within its borders or at least is impotent to prevent such groups from so acting. Without such a direct relationship between an affirmative act by the person to be held responsible for the harm caused by another and the harm so caused, the justification for imposition of liability on that basis is no longer sufficient even in theory and the analogy to collective punishment by military action against a largely civilian population for the acts of a discrete part of that population breaks down.

Secondly, vicarious liability rests on the premise that the person to be held liable is on notice of the circumstances where he may be responsible for the acts of another and the extent and nature of the penalties that may be imposed in those circumstances. This notice provides the opportunity for the person to either elect not to engage in the activity that risks the imposition of liability, the desired result in a criminal conspiracy, or else take steps to insure himself against loss or pass the unavoidable costs of employee negligence on to those who consume the goods or services he produces, the desired result in the case of the respondent superior doctrine. Imposition of vicarious liability cannot generally be justified unless there is notice that such liability may exist and the extent and nature of that liability. An employer should be able to assess the likelihood and severity of harm that may result from the foreseeable negligence of his employees, knowing that liability may be imposed upon him for such negligence he may take appropriate preventive or protective action. A conspirator likewise may foresee what criminal actions may be required to further a criminal conspiracy and is on notice of the legal penalties imposed for such criminal acts; therefore, this notice enables him to take such preventive or protective measures as he sees fit.

In the case of collective punishment, it is neither predictable what acts any discrete group within the population may take against a population or individuals located within another country, nor what acts by such a group may provoke a response by that other country amounting to collective punishment by military action. In addition, if there is no enforceable international standard of proportionality between the acts of the group within one country and the response by the military of the neighboring country, it will not be possible to predict or take rational action to prevent or protect against the neighboring country 's response. An enforceable concept of proportionality that would provide minimal notice of the severity of the penalty which may be imposed on the population to be punished would be required to prevent a cycle of infinitely escalating reprisals.

A doctrine that if one civilian in a country is killed by a group within the neighboring country, then twenty civilians in the neighboring country will be killed may be an effective in terrorum populi deterrent as long as no violence is actually initiated, but once violence begins, as by a group that feels it can avoid or benefit from the response, each side feels itself justifiably wronged and it may be that neither will stop retaliating until one side has destroyed the other's ability to respond in kind or they have achieved mutual destruction. Since the penalties that may be imposed through collective punishment through military action on a largely civilian population cannot be predicted by that population, and the penalties are not imposed subject to a superior authority that is capable of regulating the proportionality of the penalty imposed to the harm caused, there cannot be sufficient notice of the penalties to be imposed by collective punishment and the analogy to vicarious tort and criminal liabilities again fails.

Third, the penalties and liabilities imposed pursuant to vicarious liability are enforced by a superior authority recognized as possessing a legitimate right to impose such penalties by both the person who has been harmed and by the person against whom liability is imposed. In the case of the employer deemed liable for the neglect of his employee, a court of civil jurisdiction that is bound to respect all his rights to receive due process will impose any liability after he has been given an opportunity to contest the facts and the applicable law. In the case of the conspirator, the state is bound to prove his participation in the criminal conspiracy and that the criminal act that he had no knowledge of was done in furtherance of the purpose of the conspiracy. As in the civil case, the criminal conspirator will be afforded full due process rights and an opportunity to appear and contest the case against him. The fact that any penalty will be imposed by a neutral arbiter that any objective observer will agree possesses the legitimate authority to impose any penalty is essential to the justification of imposition of liability in cases of this kind. Indeed, in almost every case the participants themselves do not dispute the authority of the court to impose on them the penalties permitted by law and equity. Even if they do they are participants in the political system that grants or regulates the authority to make determinations of liability and the nature and extent of the penalties to be imposed where liability is determined to exist. Those upon whom such liabilities may be imposed have an opportunity to seek to change the laws and regulations that determine the existence of liability and the nature and extent of the penalties to be imposed if they are dissatisfied with them.

Collective punishment of a mostly civilian population by the use of military force greatly differs from the imposition of vicarious liability in this respect. No citizen, or indeed subject, of a sovereign state is likely to acknowledge the authority of the military of another sovereign state to determine whether they may be punished for the acts of another or what penalty may be justifiably imposed for such acts. The civilian population upon which the penalties are imposed has no voice in the political, or military, process that determined what acts of another they would be held responsible for and they receive no due process from the system that determines whether they are subject to collective punishment and what punishment will be imposed on them. I cannot help but feel that this is another flaw in your analysis.

Fourthly, within a vicarious liability system, the costs of the imposition of the penalties are borne largely within the system. If the system elects to impose liability on employers for the negligence of their employees, the increased costs of insurance, the increased costs of goods and services, or the decrease in the level of employment will all be suffered within the polity whose representatives have chosen to impose this scheme of liability upon themselves and their constituents. Also, in the realm of criminal liability, any costs which may result from the encouragement of more active participation in criminal conspiracies or greater oversight of the performance of criminal conspiracies by conspirators who otherwise would have remained uninvolved in the details in the hopes of evading liability, or the costs to society of imposing severe penalties on those whose own acts would have justified only mild penalties, will be suffered by the community which has chosen to enact such laws. If the benefit to the society that enacts such laws does not outweigh the costs suffered by the society in imposing the penalties of the law, we may expect that the laws will either not be enacted, or having been enacted will be repealed once their consequences are appreciated in the absence of external factors.

If we consider instead collective punishment, we may note that most of the costs of the collective punishment are not borne within the socio-economic or political system of those engaging in the punishment. The country doing the punishing will suffer some loss in its freedom of movement between itself and its neighbors, loss of trade and commercial opportunities with the neighboring country, losses associated with retaliation, reprisal or vengeance by those whom it has punished, loss of goodwill with its other neighbors who are given cause to fear that they may also be subject to such actions, nor will these be the only costs that that country will endure; however, this represents only a fraction of the costs produced as a result of collective punishment. The country upon which the collective punishment is imposed will inevitably suffer most of the costs of the collective punishment and the damages to uninvolved third-parties may also exceed those of the country imposing collective punishment. Fundamentally, the only costs to which a country may be expected to give full consideration when deciding to impose liability on a group for the actions of a member of the group or discrete sub-group, or in any case where one person is to be punished for the actions of another based on some perceived association or relation between them, are the costs that it must itself bear, whether directly or indirectly.

In the case of vicarious liability the costs imposed on the party to be punished are to some degree considered by the authority imposing punishment its own costs and it will not usually impose punishment in excess of what will serve its rational ends or than it feels it can bear in pursuit of those ends. In the case of collective punishment the costs imposed on the party to be punished are not weighed in the balance in determining whether the punishment serves the rational ends of the authority imposing punishment and what costs the authority is able to bear in pursuing punishment, or at any rate that in almost every case such costs will be significantly undervalued. We may expect any disproportion between the costs and benefits of a vicarious liability system to be in some degree self-correcting, but without this negative feedback mechanism it is likely that the party engaging in collective punishment will undervalue the costs of its action or overvalue the benefits to be gained by such action to whatever extent the costs are borne by others.

It may seem sensible to a country to bomb its neighbor's capitol because, for example, a citizen of that country, perhaps a member of a violent anti-foreigner group, threw a rock that killed a border guard. If the country places a high value on the lives of its citizens and a very low value on the lives or socio-economic welfare of its neighbor's citizens, this may appear to be a rational and justifiable response based on the costs and benefits it perceives to itself. Indeed it may seem vital and necessary for the country's self-defense as otherwise its border guards may be seen to be stoned to death with impunity. This element seems to be particularly vital in determining whether the various forms of vicarious liability are sufficiently like collective punishment to act a partial basis for justifying a country's resort to collective punishment. The failure to consider this factor seems to me to be a most serious fault in your analysis.


While I find applying economic analysis to the concept of collective punishment in the context of foreign affairs fascinating and useful, I do not think the principals in this drama (Hezbollah, Syria, Iran) act rationally. Thus, policy based on the usual positive and negative incentives may not work in this situation (where collective punishment would likely work in the context of a legal system based on shared values).

If Hezbollah, Syria and Iran (and perhaps the government and people of Lebanon) do not respond to positive and negative incentives, the best option is military punishment and deterrence. At the end of the day it is military punishment and deterrence that matters when dealing with Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Is there any evidence the government and people of Lebanon are incapable of controlling Hezbollah? Or does the evidence show that the Lebanese government allowed Hezbollah to arm and act with impunity?

It seems to me the issue of a just war and collective punishment in Lebanon turns on this evidence.


If the only goal was to decrease crime, then crime could be reduced by punishing the victim. For example, if people knew they would do jail time for getting mugged, then they would be more careful to avoid getting mugged and muggings would decrease.The general idea with preventing crime is that society as a whole benefitis when people don't hurt each other but that people can benefit individually by hurting others. Punishing people for hurting others cancels the benefits individually derived from hurting others.More to the point, the fundamental goal is to make people choose not to hurt each other. For example, when it comes to muggings, the goal is not to discourage people from going out in public but instead to discourage people from choosing to enage in mugging.If the USA made a firm commitment to bomb Israel every time an Israeli soldier got kidnapped then it is certain that Israel would protect their soldiers from being kidnapped and kidnappings would decrease.In fact, if Israel changed it's name to something ethnically neutral (eg. "Harmonia"), gave the Palestinians full citizenship and renounces all racial, religious and ethnic discrimination then the whole conflict would be solved.The thing is, the USA wants that part of the world to be ethnically segregated. They want a Jewish majority in places like Jerusalem.It's interesting that Bush talks about wanting democracy in the Middle East but democracy is fundamentally about the will of the common people and the common people in the Middle East don't want to be discriminated against.Basically, Bush is like "You should get what you want but I'n going to decide want you should want and if you disagree I'm going to (collectively) punish you."It's a pattern that's been going on for centuries. Europeans move somewhere and beat up on the locals and then, when the locals fight back, the Europeans use it as an excuse to beat them up even more. In the end, the Europeans get the locals' land and the locals get decimated.


"Is there any evidence the government and people of Lebanon are incapable of controlling Hezbollah? Or does the evidence show that the Lebanese government allowed Hezbollah to arm and act with impunity? It seems to me the issue of a just war and collective punishment in Lebanon turns on this evidence."

This is on a par with the "No WMDs, in hindsight (not quite true), thus no just war against Saddam" mindset.

The IDF and Mossad are unlikely to publish the evidence that ignited the military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon. And for good reason. If a plebescite were required as a prerequisite to taking military action to ensure the survival of a state against barbaric onslaught, few if any states would ever survive.


Such a morally bankrupt post. It's shocking that this should be written by a *judge* - for God's sake - and equally incredible that it should be dispassionately discussed in meandering, academic comments. And, no, it's got nothing to do with the fact that it's about Israel or the Middle East - these comments would be inhuman as applied in *any* context.

"a nation is undoubtedly responsible for predatory acts committed against another nation by groups operating openly on the nation's territory."

Unreal. Um, so I guess you've got a really clever explanation for why this only applies to the powerless, and not to the United States, huh? I guess the powerful are naturally appointed to do the punishing, and the weak to be punished, right? You remember that little war we started a little while back against, what's it called again? Iraq? And the half of the World that saw that attack as predatory was wrong why, exactly?

And that's just the beginning. What an outrage.


I think there is a bias to make legitimate what cannot be considering the history of that conflict. You can argue for a best course of action without pretending that somehow the effects of that action are immune to the problem of "dirty hands". It's certainly not cleansed with regret. If only conflict were that simple.


The Lebanese really blame Hezbollah. Perhaps collective punishment is working in this case. Michael Young writes from Beirut:

But what has not been so widely reported is that while officials will blame Israel for the misery and chaos, a substantial number of Lebanese — in some cases, ironically, the officials themselves — have a more nuanced view. Of course the people here are angry and anxious about the possibility of a widening of the Israeli attacks, but their rage, as they see the country being taken apart, is often directed against Hezbollah.

The Lebanese people have watched as Hezbollah has built up a heavily armed state-within-a-state that has now carried the country into a devastating conflict it cannot win and many are fed up. Sunni Muslims, Christians and the Druze have no desire to pay for the martial vanity of the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Nor will they take kindly to his transforming the devastation into a political victory.

Some even welcome Israel’s intervention. As one Lebanese politician said to me in private (but would never dare say in public) Israel must not stop now. It sounds cynical, he said, but ‘for things to get better in Lebanon, Nasrallah must be weakened further’.

Even some Shiites are beginning to have doubts about Nasrallah. If interviewed on television they will praise Hezbollah, but when the cameras are off, there are those who will suddenly become more critical. Many have had to flee, leaving behind their homes and possessions with no hope of recovering anything of any worth. … Here in Beirut, Nasrallah is also blamed for the suffering in southern Lebanon which, under heavy fire from Israeli cannons, has suffered in the same way as the southern half of the city.

See http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/23873/the-lebanese-really-blame-hezbollah.thtml


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shai, I take it you've never been on the modern battlefield and only seen it through the eyes of an arm chair general. It's a place where the irregulars typically use civilian populations as shields and regular forces as well. Hezbollah is a case in point, just ask yourself where the missles are being fired from? School play grounds, hospital parking lots, church and mosque gardens, etc. I won't even mention the international requirement to clearly identify combatants from noncombatants. It's gotten to the point that one tries to minimze civilian causalties, but that's getting next to impossible these days when they are hiding among the civilians.

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