Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Defense To Deadly Force

U. Chicago law prof Richard Epstein provides a "libertarian view" of Israeli self-defense in Forbes magazine:
As applied to the Israeli/Hamas dispute, two points are clear. Hamas has been the aggressor, and the nonstop Israeli response against military targets cannot be regarded as excessive so long as the rocket attacks continue. But can the Israeli actions still be condemned as disproportionate to a legitimate end? Tough question. . .

The principle of proportionality can be extended to some cases of bodily harm. You can't kill an attacker who for sure will do no more than scratch your face. The innocent party has to lick his wounds for the benefit of a wrongdoer. But you may kill, if need be, the attacker who threatens to maim but not kill you. Or all 10 gang members act with that same intention. Unavoidably messy.

The face-off in Gaza, however, pushes the idea of proportionality one step further. The claim is that it is not permissible for the Israelis to kill many individuals, including civilians, to stop sporadic deaths from rocket fire. Sorry. As with individual aggression, proportionality has no place in dealing with deadly force, where the right rule is that all necessary force is permissible.

The Israelis are not required to slowly bleed in Sderot because Hamas is at present only capable of using primitive rockets against it. It need not wait until the attacks become ever more deadly to raise the ante. It should of course do whatever it can to avoid the killing of civilians, even those who serve as human shields.
(via Instapundit)

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