THE BLOG
10/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

1:1 Proportionality: If You Want War, Why Not Try Fairness?

On grounds of 1:1 proportionality -- that would be killing no more than have been killed by the enemy -- the U.S has spilled more blood in the so called War on Terror than has been spilled by the terrorists. We have taken multiple eyes for eyes. Multiple teeth for teeth.

I see no reason why in any war there should not be 1:1 proportionality in justifying what is certain to result in the loss of life. If I am President Obama, or indeed any ethically minded and thoughtful person, I at least weigh the losses we will inflict against the losses we are likely to suffer.

But this has not been our doctrine of the ethics of war. Under the last Bush, this ethic was not even considered. Iraq has been a cauldron of slaughter where the deaths of the enemy have far exceeded the deaths caused by terrorists. Enemy is a misnomer as our victims have mainly been civilians, innocents, non-combatants.

I know that 9/11 was a slaughter of civilians and that I am writing mainly about the so-called War on Terror. 1:1 proportionality would surely have been achieved has the U.S. confined its efforts to rooting out Al Qaeda period. But that was never the objective.

Here from About.com is a digest of casualties of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts as of a year ago.

4,683 American combatants in the two countries. That exceeds the casualties in 9/11 and we have not even gotten to the Afghan and Iraqi casualties.

Iraqi civilian casualties exceed 20,000 and may be much more. An outside estimate of all Iraq War casualties exceeds 600,000.

In Afghanistan coalition deaths exceed 1000 and are bound to rise if the Obama plan is ratified and expanded. The same link wlll indicate civilian casualties vastly exceed casualties inflicted by Al Qaeda.

It is self evident that we care more for our losses than the enemy's. But judicious attention to the matter would at least give some weight to civilian casualties in the equation. We have been prodigal in our slaughter of innocents. The moral laws of karma and justice are not on our side.

Our understanding of war has become the reduction of OUR casualties and the maximization of enemy deaths.

Bill Clinton endorsed this. Save our soldiers and kill as many of theirs as possible. I assume this is also the stance of NATO.

Well, here is the gospel truth:

Blessing goes to the peace makers. Failing peace. the blessing goes to the negotiators. These are the two gospel options. They were long ago rejected by Christian nations in favor of "just" wars. 1:1 proportionality has never been seriously considered or practiced.

The Bush approach to 9/11 was, and remains, a travesty. When this is all added up in heaven, if it ever is, culpability will fall at the feet of those who put reason aside and chose shock and awe.

So what will our President do?

If he became the first President to make 1:1 proportionality a doctrine of war, he would be so far to a solution in Afghanistan that I would eat my earliest words -- well before the recent chorus -- about Obama's Vietnam. For example. And here as well.

Eisenhower would sit up in his grave and applaud.

And the Military-Insustrial complex would be calling up the organizers of the Town Hall protests and asking them in code for some serious help.

Sorry, but this is the way things are.

The issue is not whether more troops will bring victory. It is guaranteed not to when you have to ask the question. The issue is whether we will move to 1:1 proportionality and tell terrorists what that means, should they attack again.

Then we wait to see if the world changes. Yes, it's a gamble. But it is the right gamble to take. The other one leads to everything we have believed in that is wrong, destructive and ultimately self-defeating

FURTHER READING

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