Notes on the Gaza War Part III – Walter Russell Mead and Proportionality in War

Walter Russell Mead has an interesting (if wrong) piece on the attitudes of the American public vis-a-vis the Gaza war.  The gist of his argument is that Americans do not object to Israeli actions in Gaza, because they reject the concept of proportionality in war:

In any case, when Israel brings the big guns and fast planes against Gaza’s popguns and low tech missiles, a great many Americans see nothing but common sense at work. These Americans aren’t mad about ‘disproportionate’ Israeli violence in Gaza because they don’t really accept the concept of proportionality in war. They think that if you have jus ad bellum, and rocket strikes from Gaza are definitely that, you get something close to a blank check when it comes to jus in bello.

Nice theory, as far as it goes.  Mind you, there’s an alternative, and I would suggest, more plausible, explanation.  It isn’t that Americans reject the notional of proportionality, it’s that they don’t believe (quite reasonably, in my view) that Israel’s actions in Gaza are disproportionate to the military goals that it seeks to achieve.  Continue reading “Notes on the Gaza War Part III – Walter Russell Mead and Proportionality in War”