Noah Millman agrees with Damon Linker that Israel’s current military operation in Gaza is a “stupid war”:

The only thing I would add is that Operation Protective Edge shouldn’t be called The Stupid War. Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Cloud were similarly campaigns that Israel backed itself into without a clear plan or objective, and which reached predictably equivocal and unsatisfying conclusions. The Second Lebanon War might be characterized similarly.

Millman is absolutely right about this. The only other thing I would add to what he and Linker have said is that it is hard to imagine how military action that leads “nowhere but more provocation, more retaliation, and more tragedy for all sides” can still be morally justified in any meaningful sense. One can understand the Israeli government’s decision to use force in all of the cases Millman mentions, but that is very different from agreeing that the decision to use force is a just or morally defensible one.

Even when the use of force might seem justified at the beginning, it ceases to be so when it cannot possibly achieve its aims without inflicting evils greater than those it was intended to stop. When a military operation has no discernible or achievable goals, it is doing nothing more than inflicting death and destruction for the sake of satisfying a desire for retribution and for the short-term political benefit of the current government. The things that make this military operation “stupid” are the same things that make it unjust and outrageous.