“Escalation not the answer” fallacious

Editor, the Gauntlet

[Re: “Escalation not the answer,” editorial, Aug. 3, 2006]

In his editorial “Escalation not the answer,” Editor-in-Chief Chris Beauchamp starts off with a fallacy and goes downhill from there.

Beauchamp leads with “Violence only begets further violence.” This mantra has been repeated so often that people have begun to assume it is true, but it is not. When Neville Chamberlain proudly announced that he had achieved “peace in our time,” he also was victim to this fallacy. He assumed that if Great Britain simply gave Adolf Hitler what he wanted, Germany would go away and leave them alone. Appeasement didn’t work then; why should it work now?

My wife once knew a lady–now deceased–whose husband was a drunk and a wife-beater. One day the violence just stopped. Why? Because after years of seeing her turn the other cheek and take her beating without complaint he realized that getting pissed and beating the shit out of her was a bad thing to do? No! It was because she stayed up late one night and clocked him with a cast iron frying pan as hard as she could swing it. He never laid a finger on her again. Violence in that case did not beget more violence; it begot peace.

Beauchamp suggests that, in response to being attacked with rockets, invaded, having several soldiers murdered and two kidnapped, Israel should simply release a bunch of convicted murderers and pretend that it is a “prisoner exchange.” Imagine the outcry if Karla Homolka were to kidnap a couple of police officers and the Canadian government, in exchange for their release, agreed to set Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olsen free. This is essentially what Beauchamp is suggesting when he talks about a “prisoner exchange”­­–setting convicted terrorists and murderers free to kill again, in return for a couple of Israeli citizens who were in their own country, defending their own border, committing no crime.

Beauchamp points out that “the damage Israel is inflicting is roughly ten times that caused by Hezbollah.” Yes, it is. It’s called war; if you don’t like it, don’t start it. When Imperial Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States did not settle for a “proportionate” response. They declared war on the Japanese Empire and crushed it. The world–Japan included–is better off for it.

“Hezbollah performs all the actions a government should in southern Lebanon.” Yeah, and Mussolini made the trains run on time. So what? Their schools are training grounds for the brainwashing of a new generation of terrorists; their news organization is a propaganda machine, and they use the hospitals as military headquarters.

Beauchamp offers no specifics to back up his claim that Israel is “likely” guilty of war crimes. What crimes has Israel committed? Israel did not attack United Nations observers–that was an accident. According to an e-mail from the Canadian observer, Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, sent shortly before he was killed, it appears that Hezbollah terrorists were active in close proximity to the UN post shortly before the attack. This is entirely consistent with the Hezbollah policy of launching their attacks from areas that Israel cannot retaliate against without causing innocent casualties. Using UN observers as human shields would be part and parcel of the same strategy. Israel has never deliberately targeted civilians as Beauchamp claims; however, the fact that Hezbollah don’t have the guts to wear uniforms that distinguish them from civilians, deliberately launch attacks from populated civilian areas, and may even deliberately place civilians in harm’s way, makes it impossible for Israel to defend itself without causing at least some innocent casualties.

Whether the war started last week, last month, in 1949, or in 1187 when Saladin captured Jerusalem is irrelevant. What is relevant is that Israel is willing to live in peace with their neighbours, and Hezbollah refuses to do so.

I find the remainder of Beauchamp’s arguments equally specious.

William Lorimer

PhD Candidate, Department of Computer Science

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