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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lopsided casualty counts don't dictate morality

Jeffrey Goldberg does a good job with a New York Times editorial that is obsessed with the notion that the side that inflicts more casualties cannot be right.
[T]hen the editorial states the following, in an effort to suggest that the Hamas threat is not quite existential:
Israel has a vastly more capable military than Hamas, and its air campaign has resulted in a lopsided casualty count: three Israelis have been killed.
Whenever I read a statement like this, I wonder if the person writing it believes that there is a large moral difference between attempted murder and successfully completed murder. The casualty count is lopsided, but why? A couple of reasons: Hamas rockets are inaccurate; Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system is working well. But the Israeli body count isn't low because Hamas is trying to minimize Israeli casualties. Quite the opposite: Hamas's intention is to kill as many Israelis as possible. Without vigilance, and luck, and without active attempts by the Israeli Air Force to destroy rocket launchers before they can be used, the Israeli body count would be much higher. The U.S. judges the threat from al Qaeda based on the group's intentions and plans, not merely on the number of Americans it has killed over the past 10 years. This is the correct approach to dealing with such a threat.
Indeed. 

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