Monday, December 29, 2008

Pre-Emptivity is (Almost) Always Wrong

The academic argument often made when discussing Dick Cheney's definition of "preventive" and "pre-emptive" war, is that the former is never justified under international law, while the latter could be rationalized if armies were massed at the border, or missiles were readied (or fired) into an adversary's territory. By that thought experiment, Israel could be justified for its late-December attacks on Gaza, as the occasional Katyusha assaults coming from Hezbollah now are augmented with scores of Hamas' unguided Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip (pictured on the left - think roughly of the difference between the V2 and V1 buzz-bombs during the Nazi asaault on London, with Qassam playing the role of V1. Islamic subnational groups have no true equivalent of guided missiles yet.).

The importance of this definition is that Israel now claims it is absolutely "at war" with Hamas. The problem with this rationalization of pre-emptivity is that it does not take into account the asymmetry of the powers involved. Do rockets assaults from Hamas and Hezbollah occasionally kill Israelis? Of course. Are the continued attacks from Gaza in the wake of Israeli bombing raids a macho act of desperation that only makes things worse? Of course. But as usual, Israel is adopting an eye-for-an-eye response that shows total lack of reciprocity. Its matrix of control thrown over Gaza makes the so-called retaliatory assaults a series of turkey shoots.

Let's repeat it for emphasis: Israel is an imperial state. Israel is an occupationist state. Israel is a thug state. Does it sound like any other nations we're familiar with?

V for Pynchonesque Victory or V for Vendetta?


Ruth said...

Yes. Familiar and humiliating.

Loring Wirbel said...

Our local paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, is a notorious conservative-but-libertarian paper which can be maddeningly unpredictable. This morning, they quoted Justin Raimondo in their editorial on Israel: