Not that it should surprise anyone, but Victor Davis Hanson does not understand the doctrine of proportionality. Jim Antle comes much nearer the mark when he says, “The standard rightly applied compares the harm inflicted with the harm the military action seeks to avoid.” The harm that the IDF seeks to avoid in this case is obviously far less than the harm already inflicted on civilian population of Gaza, given the puny and ineffective nature of the rocket attacks prior to the operation, to say nothing of the harm that will be inflicted in the future. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.” (2309)
Hanson then trots out past U.S. crimes to cover for the indiscriminate warfare of the IDF:
By this logic, the 1999 American bombing of Belgrade — aimed at stopping the genocide of Slobodan Milosevic — was, because of collateral damage, the moral equivalent of the carefully planned Serbian massacres of Muslim civilians at Srebrenica in 1995.
They are not exactly equivalent, but both were criminal. Arguably, the bombing of Belgrade was more so, because the war in question had absolutely no justification (the “genocide” being thwarted by the bombing had never occurred and was in all likelihood not going to occur). What is strange about this is that Hanson seems to believe quite genuinely that this example strengthens his case, as if invoking the killing of civilians in a war of aggression justifies the killing of civilians during the current operation. This is a variant on the argument from war crimes that many people used during the war in 2006, which amounted to waxing indignant that the standards regarding indiscriminate and disproportionate warfare applied today would have made the bombing campaigns of WWII criminal. Indeed, they would, because they were.