July 28, 2006

DOG BITES MAN: In The New Republic, Joshua Brook writes:

The war between Israel and Hezbollah has sparked widespread debate on the subject of proportionality. One might have hoped that the human rights community would take this opportunity to educate political leaders and the public on the international law of proportionality and how it applies to the current fighting. Indeed, some groups have done just that. But others have chosen to brazenly distort international law in their zeal to condemn Israel.

The basic rule of international law in some people’s minds seems to be that anything that the United States or Israel does is wrong. As I say, dog bites man.

UPDATE: Prof. Kenneth Anderson has more on proportionality and writes:

Legal scholars who want to focus on the UN Charter as the sole source of legal authority for the use of force – and hence see any armed action by a party as having to be ‘proportionate’ pending some (typically mythological) intervention by the Security Council – tend to underplay that the Charter does not remove the customary law of self-defense, which does not require a “proportionate” response once belligerency is underway.

These abuses of international law are drastically undermining its credibility. More here, here, and here.

As one blog commenter noted (I forget where I saw it), the difference is that Israel causes civilian casualties when it misses its targets, Hezbollah causes civilian casualties when it hits its targets.