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Monday, October 23, 2006

Human rights falsehood

In today's Washington Times, Gerald Steinberg does a masterful job of defending Israel's use of cluster bombs in Lebanon:
But a deeper examination of the issues shows fundamental flaws that undermine both the moral argument and the claim of HRW, Amnesty and other NGOs to a central role in negotiating arms-limitation agreements. Morally and logically, every nation under attack has the right to self-defense, and the rules of law, including various weapons bans that have been adopted, cannot result in greater slaughter of civilians.

The first treaty banning the use of chemical weapons after the mass casualties of World War I was adopted in large part because they were also ineffective and did not fulfill any military objectives. Other agreements and prohibitions, such as those placed on aerial bombardment, were short-lived and largely ignored because of their military importance, both for offense and self-defense. The efforts to expand partial agreements on the prohibition of land mines have failed precisely because in many cases no one has presented a better way to protect people, facilities and nations from attack. In an environment of bitter conflict and terrorism, the use of land mines for security can be the lesser of the evils.

Similarly, in repeated condemnations of Israel for the use of cluster munitions, activist groups such as Amnesty and HRW failed to suggest a realistic and effective alternative against deadly rocket attacks. Although largely missing from HRW's campaigns, there is no question that morally Hezbollah's arsenal of thousands of Syrian and Iranian-made rockets purposely used to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible constitutes the core violation of human rights and an obvious violation of international law. Massive Israeli ground and air attacks designed to find and destroy the rocket-launchers scattered throughout Southern Lebanon would have taken many more lives. This is the ugly calculus of war, and attempts to ignore this reality of human existence are both irrational and unethical.
Read the whole thing.


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