The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it’s not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions.
This kind of moral posture is not unheard of, of course. But it’s strange to see the ethics of Osama bin Laden being explicitly adopted by the organs of mainstream conservatism.
To be clear, he’s not saying that it’s sometimes okay to kill a bad guy’s innocent children as part of a military operation directed against the guy. He’s saying it’s better to kill his children than it would be to avoid killing them.
That’s certainly how it seems to me. Moreover, note the way that Goldfarb’s post begins:
It’s true that there are very few examples in 20th century history of a bombing campaign that actually broke the morale of a people at war and sapped them of the will to continue the fight.
The Middle East has been no different. Wars have been won or lost by boots on the ground, with air power playing a crucial but secondary role in each of Israel’s major wars since its independence. In Israel’s current fight in Gaza, against a terrorist organization rather than a state actor, air power alone seems even less likely to produce a successful outcome.
So: this kind of thing hasn’t worked in the past, and it’s unlikely to work this time around, but … hey, wait a minute, aren’t those exactly the reasons we’re supposed to give up on the peace process?!
(Yeah, but this is different …)