Proportional Military Action?

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Well, I guess this is newsworthy considering the neo-Pacifism that has infested the Vatican since Vatican II:

Proportional military action?  Now I realize this is a favored Catholic buzz phrase in recent decades when it comes to  military action, and it is also nonsense, especially when it comes to battling a death cult like ISIS.  In war you want to devastate your adversary so greatly that they will not consider rising against you again.  After the war is won you can bring in all the reconstruction and humanitarian assistance you wish, but none of that is of any utility until the military conflict is concluded with victory.  Half measures merely ensure stalemate and ultimate defeat in any conflict.  The epitome of this type of rubbish was during Vietnam where the US would bomb, with great White House imposed restrictions as to targets, for a while, Hanoi would begin to suffer, Hanoi would send out a peace feeler, and the US would stop, giving Hanoi a breathing space to recover.  It is hard to imagine a strategy more likely to ensure defeat.  Whenever military action is necessary, it should always involve bringing disproportionate force against the adversary.  To do otherwise is to betray those called upon to fight.

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24 Comments

  1. Why would anyone in his sound and sober senses propose military action, “proportionate” or otherwise, against a group that is discomforting the Assad regime in Syria (an Iranian ally) or the pro-Iranian Shiites of Iraq?

    Iran, and only Iran, with its nuclear ambitions, poses an existential threat to Israel. Anything that weakens the Iranian Crescent – Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran and now Sana’a should surely be welcomed. Let us hope ISIS’s next target is Hezbollah in Lebanon.

  2. Rubbish MPS. ISIS is an affront to all civilized humanity. Iran is an enemy also, but there is absolutely no need to support the murderers of ISIS in order to deal with Iran. A sensible strategy is to back and arm the Kurds and to strengthen them to crush ISIS and then to act as a bulwark against Iran, and a staging area for American air power.

  3. Make up your mind!
    .
    Conan the Barbarian speaks on what is good in life. “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”
    .
    Whomever needs to bring the Good News to, and make well and truly blessed, the filthy pagans.
    .

  4. When a nation boldly pronounces that it seeks to destroy another, that is sufficient reason for the targeted nation to deploy all that is necessary to prevent such. Any military action against such an aggressor cannot be considered first strike–merely preventive defense. Tell me why that thinking is morally wrong in a day of weapons of such complete magnitude in the hands of suicidal religious fanatics?

  5. What will the Vatican say when ISIS obtains and detonates a tactical nuclear weapon in Rome? Nothing for they will be dead. 🙁 The only correct response is overwhelming and unremitting force. Today’s ISIS is the German tribes threatening civilization 2 millenia ago except that the Germans were more civilized.

  6. Why would anyone in his sound and sober senses propose military action, “proportionate” or otherwise, against a group that is discomforting the Assad regime in Syria (an Iranian ally) or the pro-Iranian Shiites of Iraq?

    Because they are doing things worse than the those evil groups are. What part of “feeding the mother who comes to beg for her son’s life the flesh of her son” needs elaboration? Crucifying children? Live burials, torture, rape?

    We don’t ignore evil because it’s mostly hurting people who may not like us and ‘discomforts’ other evil groups, especially not expansionist evil. Military action isn’t always the most effective way, but in this case their culture demands it.

  7. Proportional military action

    I don’t see why proportional is a problem. Proportional refers to a response that meets the need, and not beyond it. It very well could be that proportional requires a “crushing” response. Why would you desire a response beyond what is needed?

  8. Because in military matters cmatt you never truly know how much is needed to accomplish your goals, so the idea of a proportional response is ludicrous from the outset. Fighting Joe Hooker before he was crushed at Chancellorsville thought that having a two to one superiority would allow him to annihilate Lee. More fool he. Best to assume the worst in military matters and always, when able, to deploy much more force than you think you will need. Additionally, that tends to lessen casualties for your side, something that should always be a prime consideration.

  9. Donald R. McClarey wrote, “A sensible strategy is to back and arm the Kurds and to strengthen them to crush ISIS and then to act as a bulwark against Iran, and a staging area for American air power.”

    Many Kurds desiderate a Kurdish homeland, a “greater Kurdistan” and strengthening the Iraqi Kurds could well have the unintended consequence of destabilising Turkey, a NATO ally. And for what? To destroy a group that is humiliating Iran by its attacks on its allies and proxies and drawing it into a bloody and expensive conflict.

  10. Foxfier wrote, “Because they are doing things worse than the those evil groups are. “

    Is there really that much to choose between those who throw gay people off buildings and those who hang them from cranes? But that is by-the-by. Iran poses a deadly threat to Israel and ISIS does not.

    I would support them for the same reason Cardinal Richelieu subsidised Gustavus Adolphus and forged an alliance with the Turks against the Habsburg power.

  11. “could well have the unintended consequence of destabilising Turkey, a NATO ally.”

    With allies like the Turks in regard to the Middle East who needs enemies? That song that you are singing MPS has been used for a very long time in keeping down the Kurds and I find it unconvincing. If Turkey topples because the Kurdish people finally have their own homeland, than Turkey is such a fragile state that it is doomed in the long term in any case.

  12. “I would support them for the same reason Cardinal Richelieu subsidised Gustavus Adolphus and forged an alliance with the Turks against the Habsburg power.”

    And your policy would be just as mistaken as the policy of Richelieu who mistook France for Europe and his own ambition for the Church.

  13. Thank you Donald! “Proportional military action” is ever the strategy of those who surely will not be doing the fighting. It is precisely a betrayal of those called upon to fight. But, coming from someone who famously stated that violence never conquers violence, it is entirely unsurprising.

  14. Is there really that much to choose between those who throw gay people off buildings and those who hang them from cranes?

    You seriously need to do a little more research on who ISIS is and what they are doing if you think it all comes down to how the execute accused homosexuals. The examples I pointed to, which you ignored, are not even the worst.
    They are both evil. That does not mean they are evil to the same extent, in the same way, or at the same speed or with the same goals– much as the USSR vs the Axis Powers.

  15. Proportional does not mean “bad estimate of the need.” The problem you cite is not with “proportionate” but with miscalculation. Or do you suggest that the US should have instituted a draft to take Granada?

  16. I suggest that I have no problem with the overwhelming force used on Grenada, armchair critics at the time to the contrary. “Proportionate military force” is a phrase used by people who will not be fighting and have absolutely no concept of how difficult it is in advance to determine whether military force is adequate or not. Clerics understand “proportionate military force” as well as military men understand the kenosis.

  17. Donald– so it’s not so much the concept as the way the concept gets abused?
    I, too, have noticed it seems like it only gets brought up with a presumption of ill-will against those who actually did something, and not against those who openly go “yes, our goal is to over-react so no-one dares even try it again.”

  18. Grant or Sherman said something like, there is no way to kill gently or to destroy with honor. Hemingway, “War is a crime. Go ask the infantry. Go ask the dead.” Men and women suddenly and violently are killed.
    .
    Economy of force means you go all-out to win and you don’t give the enemy any advantage whatsoever.
    .
    “Proportionate military force” because he didn’t want to upset any liberal, snowflake ally. Thank God for small mercies. Seems as if he’s moved past “appeasement.”

  19. ‘with the overwhelming force used on Grenada, armchair critics at the time to the contrary’
    There’s a story told me from one among the first envoy.
    A hotel near the beach was used for the troops and prisoners. The prisoners were in the pool area asking for food, which, in whatever Spanish attempted, the reply could be interpreted as their being the food so panic ensued among them. The doctor had an abundant supply of valium and used it to get prisoners peacefully through the next few hours.

  20. Don

    Give me a break!

    I suppose if the good Cardinal knew his statements were a non sequiter he would not have made them. But if he doesn’t understand basics should he be doing that sort of work.

    Proportionality is a part of the Just War doctrine. But it means something entirely different than the Cardinal’s use.

    The just war doctrine has two parts.
    Jus ad bellum
    The right to go to war

    Jus in bello.
    Moral conduct in war.

    Proportionality is a part of the Jus in bello . But it certainly not the whole part. And the whole should be considered.

    First it refers to choices of weapons and tactics that actually exist in a given saturation. Given the options that will successfully accomplish the military objective he should use the one that cause the least suffering.

    A standard example is:

    A soldier has an M16 and a .50 caliber machine gun. If in his individual military judgment the M16 is the best weapon for the situation using the .50 cal because he wants to see bodies fly apart is violation of proportionality. If his considered military opinion the .50 cal is the best weapon for the situation, then using it is not a violation of proportionality. But really, a reasonable sense of self preservation would tell him not to misuse the .50 cal or he won’t have the ammunition when he needs it.

    The term proportionality is sometimes (mis)used in Jus ad bellum to the that there should be a reasonable eexpection that the gain for the war will be less than the cost. If it isn’t don’t go to war. Which has always been a part of the doctrine.

    The Cardinals comments to not seem to be correctly addressing the situation in terms of the Just War doctrine.

    Kevin Anderson wrote an excellent

    discussion from an International Law perspective which is basically the same as the clasic Catholic Just War doctrine. This is required reading for understanding what proportionality means.

    Ok Ok I am getting off my soap box. Have a good week end.

  21. I would support them for the same reason Cardinal Richelieu subsidised Gustavus Adolphus and forged an alliance with the Turks against the Habsburg power.
    –Michael Paterson-Seymour

    And your policy would be just as mistaken as the policy of Richelieu who mistook France for Europe and his own ambition for the Church.
    –Donald R. McClarey

    Yeah, Richelieu was ambitious and wrong.

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