Eli Bernstein's post at PJM on Is the War on Gaza Immoral?, appears to miss the point of Morality and Justice in War.
I left one of my early morning, before coffee responses which I give below, trying to address the concept that Morality has a deeper basis that goes beyond the 'Jus ad bellum' Nation State practice of warfare. I will, continue on after that text:
By seeking to explain criteria for war, the actual citation of what war actually is, that being the right of the individual, is not addressed.
As individuals we all have the right to wage war. Actually doing so is a negative liberty when attacking others and a positive liberty when done for self defense. That negative liberty we, as civilized individuals, invest in the Nation State to protect our society and ensure that it is protected against other Nation States (who also have the negative liberty of aggressive war at their disposal) and against those humans who reclaim their full set of rights and liberties and revert to the Law of Nature and turn away from the civilized understanding of the Law of Nations.
The object of the Nation State is to ensure that the practice of individuals reverting to the savage state of Nature are ended, both within and outside of the Nation State. That is a responsibility that comes with that common investment of our individual negative liberty that we invest in the Nation State for our self-protection.
The negative liberty of war, that is aggressive war, itself has multiple positive and negative aspects or rights. That is only partially represented by ‘Just War’ theory. The negative exercise of aggressive war is for conquest, teritorrial expansion and for self-indulgence of rulers of Nation States. The positive excercise of the negative liberty of war is in the self-protection of the Nation State via pre-emptive war where the survival of the Nation State is put at risk by not waging such war. The description of such wars and the rights and responsibilities Nation States have as our creation are all part of the Law of Nations.
In the US we have sub-National States which are given the right to organize a non-standing force known as a Citizen’s Militia. That is codified in Article 1, Section 10, so that the individual sub-National States are barred from raising armies and navies except when the National government cannot or will not respond to the threat of invasion or danger that does not brook delay. Then that State reclaims the negative liberty for warfare for itself to exercise on behalf of its Citizens. The sub-National State structure and the Nation State cannot take the negative liberty of warfare from individuals as it is part of the human right of warfare we are all born with.
When, as an individual, we find that savage humans who have reclaimed their negative liberty of warfare to attack us, as individuals, our full right of warfare returns to us as it is our positive right of survival and self-defense that cannot be divorced from us by our Nature, and that the only response when threatened by the threat of warfare against our persons is to responsd in kind and hold ourselves responsible to our agreed-upon law once that action is taken. Unlike savages we agree to put down the weapons of war once we have defended ourselves, and be held accountable. We may still practice with those self-same weapons as the right of self-defense is the positive liberty of warfare that we cannot hand to any Nation State as we are responsible for our own self-protection.
From that understanding Israel, as a Nation State has the right of any Nation State to wage war against those individuals who have reverted to their savage, Natural state of being.
Those who have not done so and see their fellow man revert to savages must seek higher authority to put them to an end, flee from them or, if they are caught up in such savage actions, do their best to thwart or end them so as to protect themselves and their society via lawful means and agreement.
Those who sit placidly by and do *nothing* are as culpable as those attacking via savage means absent the Nation State as they see no reason to act in a civilized manner. The rights and liberties of war come with responsibilities not only at the Nation State level but at the level of each and every individual. Those that do not run, do not seek the shelter of accountable Nation State means, who do not seek to put an end to savage humans and their war activities are as guilty as those waging such savage war as they see no reason to act to stop such savagery. Only if you are caught unarmed and confined can you be given leeway, or if loved ones you hold dear are similarly held… yet escape and getting cognizant and accountable authorities to end such savagery must be your top and main goal.
By not acting in a civilized fashion and having no legal and accountable Nation or State structure that can put an end to such savage humans, those who live in such areas by living in them and not seeking to construct such accountable authorities are as culpable as those attacking as they are not trying to end savage activities and hold those individuals accountable. All that takes is banding together, forming a code of fighting in accordance with well understood principles of warfare, putting on uniform, holding yourself accountable to that structure not only internally but through external intercourse with other States and Nations, and then fighting to put down and end savagery around you.
That is war to create a Nation State and hold yourself accountable to agreed-upon organs and authority.
When Palestinians actually start doing those things to end the savages in HAMAS, Fatah, and those Hezbollah and al Qaeda organizers in their lands, then they will have taken a positive step towards self-control and accountability by putting an end to savagery. So far that hasn’t happened. And those sitting around and doing *nothing* in those territories are endorsing the current state of affairs by the positive decision to do *nothing*. And that is as uncivilized as those waging savage war and indicates that they prefer a state of savagery to any other condition.
This difference I cite is the difference between Public War, that which is waged by the Nation State, and Private War, that which is waged by individuals absent any Nation State aegis. This is the far more basic division that comes from the division of the negative liberty and right of war, that which is aggressive war, and the positive liberty and right to war, which is war of self-protection. In creating society we begin to create organs to give warfare as conducted by individuals some codification and regularity. Societies, however, are not a good means to hold warfare accountable when practiced by the individual to that society. Many societies in ancient and modern times, spanning from Bronze Age Greeks to modern Yanamamo and High Land Dani, have societies that have warfare as a regularized part of social interaction. Yet neither society is set up to make treaties, regularize war and actually govern themselves in accordance with those agreed-upon wishes of other societies that have these higher organizational elements known as the State.
By having societies in which warfare is a normal practice, there is no attempt to go to higher ordering of it and placing restrictions upon it beyond that which is done by society and individuals. Far from being romantic, such warfare is often stylized, can be horrifically brutal, and has standards set by the society which are expressions of it. No attempt to curb and regularize such warfare is necessary as those that contravene the societal standards are simply killed or driven out. There is no appeal to 'Just war' or 'morality' as personal expression of warfare via means dictated by society are the norm, and the punishments for contravening society can then only appeal to common sense, not to an identified body of work or regularized schema on those things that are permitted under due duress. That is not true regularization: it may be allowed in one instance and punished in another with the exact, same background.
Those who have studied history can quickly identify the various European organizations that acted in similar manner: the various tribes of Gaul and Brittania encountering the Roman Empire, the wandering nomads of Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Huns and so on that likewise plagued Rome, the Iliad and Odyssey both recount that from the Bronze age, so do the records of Bronze Age Egypt, the Hittite foreign ministry archive is rife with examples, in Meso-America the Olmecs, Toltecs, Mayans and Aztecs did this, the oral traditions of the tribes of North America point to this, and the entire Viking Age was an expression of this form of warfare. In many we see societies in transition to States, so that the Greek City States gave credence and rationale behind the Trojan war, while still allowing Private War to exist in support of it. The Aztecs not only organized a central militia, but kept some savage tribes available for Private War needs to suppress uprisings, and those Vikings had sought regularity of Nation State over them, but retained the traditional trading and raiding schema to external societies. Their equivalents, today, are in Pakistan,Afghanistan, the Balkans, Somalia, Rwanda, the lawless Tri-Border Area in South America and the places identified as Palestinian Territories.
All of that last list are the MODERN savage lands of the world. Indeed, at a flash we see individuals suddenly forming groups that will fight for their own reasons and disdain accountability to any State or Nation, and even scorn the societies that host them. These are the enemies of humanity, who are prepared to wage war on anyone they disagree with and never be held accountable outside of conflict and warfare. This individuals have turned away from the blessing of civilization created by their fellow man and seek to destroy it, and their names are legion, their stated goals scattershot and their ends are to destroy the civilized order of things so as to put their own order in its place. When we hear of those around these savages who have the positive choice of confronting them, leaving them to seek positive justice to end them or to stay and be quiet supporters being accorded some lofty status of 'citizen', the question is: what have they done to earn that?
Being a Citizen of a State requires that one abjure aggressive war, that negative liberty of warfare, and seek to codify its use by the Nation State for the protection of all of those within the Nation State. Here an internal State is not enough, and the external accountability that comes with being a Nation State (or even City State) is required. To be a Citizen, the civilized Nation State must be present to recognize you as a Citizen, uphold your rights and liberties (no matter how restricted they may be) and PROTECT you from savage humans. That is the positive utilization of the negative liberty of aggressive warfare: ending those that threaten civilization's members who are Citizens and, thusly when not under arms, Civilians.
Those in Gaza who have sought no Nation State, support no means to end HAMAS, Fatah, Hezbollah and a series of other Private War groups, and who do nothing to confront or form up means to confront them are not 'civilians': they have disdained the responsibility of being a Citizen to hold others accountable for their actions. To be classed as a 'civilian' YOU must uphold the various treaties and agreements and laws that your Nation State has signed you up for. When you see others not doing so, your duty to your fellow Citizens is to report on those doing such actions and seek an end to them. You confront them, thwart them, commit sabotage, snipe from the shadows and, in general, use your positive liberty and rights of war of self-protection against them, if you are alone, and to preferably band together as accountable groups to end such savage behavior.
You can run. That is, actually, a very positive thing to do if you are unarmed and subject to such savages - get the hell out of there.
If you stay, you are not there to *hide* and cower and hope that someone will make everything all right and save you. That makes you a *burden* and a slave to savage war, and an accomplice to it. If you stay, you are to fight in a reasonable, responsible and effective manner. You make that statement by having told anyone in power at the Nation State level that if they are not going to do THEIR DUTY that YOU will DO YOURS. This will, probably, get you killed, but you will have 'done the right thing' and, you never know, 'one man can make a difference' by example and showing the way forward is through the savages to bring them to heel and end their savage ways.
When we hear from those in despair 'where is the Gandhi or Martin Luther King of Palestine?', that is only part of the question as these were great and peaceful men of civilization. It is even more troubling the list of the sorts of men that pointed out how to end the 'Palestinian problem' and we must ask 'Where are any like THESE in Palestine?'
Where is the Philip of Macedon who would fight, bribe, undercut, sweet talk and bed his way from disparate City States to the Nation of Greece? Where is his sort in Palestine?
Where is Napoleon who ended the horrific Revolution that had descended into savagery with 'a whiff of grapeshot'? Where is the Napoleon of Palestine who need only put down these savage groups?
Where is Sam Houston who would unite the settlers in the Texas Revolution and lead to a unified Texas and Republic of Texas? Where is the Sam Houston of Palestine to unite in Revolution and form civil government?
Where is John Rolfe to find a better way to use the land, be productive and marry so as to demonstrate a better way to live? Where is the John Rolfe of Palestine to prove by his life that he is no threat to Israel and that peace can be achieved by hard work together?
Where is Cincinnatus to take up the robe of power, put down the revolting groups and then, once the job is done, put down the robe and go back to farming? Where is the Cincinnatus of Palestine?
That listing is not exhaustive and leaves out many like Gustavus Adolphus, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant just in the military realm, and William Bradford or even Erik The Red on the civil side. The examples of how to unify a people and create peace, by military, civil and mixed means is deep in history. And yet those in the Palestinian territories have not yielded a Uniter by arms, a Uniter by reason or a Uniter by common cause. Instead we see, for decades, savage Private War performed by those no better than animals. Indeed, animals show much greater restraint and reason than do these terrorists, thus demonstrating mankind to be the greatest of all animals as we can descend into depths that no animal would willingly go to.
When the People of Palestine form up a regular way to restrain themselves and APPLY IT to the terrorists, then they will gain the lofty title of 'civilian'.
Until then they have a savage society that endorses Private War in full savagery beyond what any animal would do.
For those outside to end it, that end will be gruesome and bloody.
So will it be that way on the inside, but would demonstrate the want and ability to recognize what civil means are and attempt to achieve a civilized society that sets aside the savage means of Private War. The outside world has been awaiting this since 1948. Somehow those folks on the other side of the border figured out how to do this in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria.
Meanwhile Lebanon slowly sinks into savagery and the people there are finding the outside funds and killers hard to stop.
Going from the MOST civilized place in the Middle East in the early 1970's to the second lowest in the 1990's and to this present day, that is not a good sign... although Iraq going from bloody dictator to peaceful representative democracy is a good one. Lets hope they can hold that together and that we do not run away from the hard part of creating peace that was hard won.
My job as a civilian is to support that endeavor of my Nation.
And give the people there the ability to show the blessing of civilized life to their neighbors.
In case anyone has forgotten that in all of this.