Saturday, January 03, 2009

The story about Gaza in The Oregonian is several pages in from the front and didn’t include any numbers of deaths in Gaza or in Israel. During Israel’s eight days of military attacks on the Gaza Strip, the number of Palestinians killed now exceeds 450. The last I heard, the number of Israelis killed was 4.

I remember an episode in the television series The West Wing in which President Bartlett was confronted with the principle of proportional response. A plane with the President’s personal physician and other American citizens had been shot down killing all on board. An angry Bartlett interrupts as the Joint Chiefs of Staff outline response options. “What is the virtue of a proportional response? Why is it good?” The President goes back and forth with his chief of staff, and an admiral about the nature of a proportional response and then the admiral says there is nothing virtuous but it’s all there is. An enraged Bartlett says there is another option—a disproportional response. “Let the word ring worth from this time and this place, gentlemen, you kill an American, any American, we don’t come back with a proportional response, we come back,” his hand hits the table and rattles the glasses, “with total disaster.”

Bartlett subdued his passion for revenge before he issued his order. Israel hasn’t.


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