War is Not Law Enforcement

The Hamas apologists who now infest Ivy League and other campuses either do not know, or willfully choose to ignore, the fact that war is not a law enforcement activity whose purpose is to punish the guilty and spare the innocent.  If we look at the history of warfare, their complaints about civilian losses in Gaza are disinformation and dissimulation, with no other identifiable purpose than to protect Hamas from the consequences of its actions.  The same goes for the bleating from António Guterres, UNRWA, and the International Court of Justice.  They are nothing more than our era’s counterparts of Axis Sally, Tokyo Rose, and Lord Haw-Haw.

This does not mean that it is ever acceptable to target genuine noncombatants, and Israel bends over backward to avoid hitting them.  Even enemy combatants in most wars, however, are guilty of nothing more than wearing the wrong color uniform.  Patriotism, being conscripted, and joining an army because one has no other prospects are not crimes that deserve any punishment, although the end result can be the same fate that countries with capital punishment reserve for only the worst murderers.  For every Ted Bundy who is executed for serial murders, or Charles Manson who dies of old age in prison for slaughtering innocent people, thousands of combatants are shot or blown up for no other reason than their service to the wrong (as perceived by the other side) government.

“The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy made this clear during an era in which few people joined armies out of patriotism.  An army was instead often the only alternative to debtor’s prison, starvation, or the workhouse, as the poem makes clear.

Had he and I but met


By some old ancient inn,


We should have sat us down to wet


Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,


And staring face to face,


I shot at him as he at me,


And killed him in his place.

In “The Rochester Recruiting Sergeant” by Pete and Chris Coe, which is set to the same music as “Waltzing Matilda,” a recruiting sergeant tries to get men to join Queen Anne’s army.  Nobody with a trade will join, but one laments, “Ah, but I had long endured the parish queues [bread lines]” and takes the Queen’s Shilling.  The Thirty-Third Regiment of Foot was meanwhile known as the Havercakes because recruiting sergeants would hold up oat cakes on their swords to entice hungry men into the ranks.  This scene from Sharpe’s Regiment, starring Sean Bean and Daragh O’Malley, shows how it was often done.

In Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, the protagonist knifes to death an enemy soldier who jumped into a trench (or shell hole) with him.  He then opens the man’s wallet, not to rob him, but out of curiosity, and sees photographs of the man’s family along with his civilian occupation.  He realizes he has killed somebody’s husband and somebody’s father, and for no other reason than the fact that their respective governments told them to be where they were.

German and English soldiers celebrated Christmas together in 1914, and even exchanged gifts.

Ordinary human beings have no desire to kill other human beings.  Even during the Second World War, when Germany was ruled by one of the most evil regimes ever known, the ordinary German soldier was there only because he was told to be there (or else).  The war criminals who ran the concentration camps were, in fact, as far from the front lines as they could get.

We have seen so far, then, that even the vast majority of enemy combatants, much less civilians, are not evil people.  They die or suffer wounds and/or privation solely because of their governments’ choices, and not because of anything they did personally.  War is a quarrel between nations, and not a law enforcement process to identify the guilty and exonerate the innocent.

Hamas Is Guilty

The current war between Israel and Hamas is in fact an exception to everything I just wrote.  The vast majority of the combatants who died in the Second World War, even on the Axis side, were ordinary people who would have otherwise returned to their families and civilian occupations to contribute to their societies.  Terrorists who disguise themselves as civilians, commit a mass shooting at a peace concert, slaughter people in their own homes, gang-rape women, and burn babies in ovens are war criminals who deserve to be killed wholesale.  The world is better off without them, and Israel is simply taking out the world’s trash.

Another analogy consists of the eradication of cancer, which almost always involves collateral damage to healthy tissue.  Surgeons must remove the margins of a tumor in case they contain malignant cells.  Chemotherapy destroys growing cells wholesale (this is why cancer cells suffer the most from it), which is why patients suffer nausea from intestinal damage along with hair loss.  There is no “nice” way to remove cancer, but cancer will kill the patient if it is permitted to survive.  One does not have ceasefires or peace treaties with cancer because this just gives it a chance to recover and metastasize.

If Hamas is cancer, though, the Israeli Defense Forces are the best oncologists.  Who else could use the equivalent, in terms of everything but radioactivity, of 120 Hiroshima-class bombs for only 34,000 fatalities, including those at whom the weapons were aimed?

22,000 Unintended Fatalities from 120 Hiroshimas

Al Jazeera, which is no friend of Israel, stipulates that Israel has killed 34,000 Gazans (including the 12,000 or so Hamas terrorists it intended to kill) with 75,000 tons of explosives.  If we assume that all were one-ton charges, Israel has deployed the destructive power of more than 120 Hiroshima-class bombs to kill less than half the number killed by only one such weapon in August 1945.  This reinforces the proposition that Israel is wielding violence with almost superhuman precision against terrorists who are often menaces to peaceful Gazans as well as Israelis.  It is also to be noted that collateral losses among noncombatants, while regrettable, were less than two for every terrorist despite the terrorists’ use of the noncombatants as human shields.

How did I get 120 Hiroshima-class bombs at 15 kilotons from 75 kilotons of explosives?  While the destructive volume of an explosive is directly proportional to the amount present, volume is meaningful only if the target (like an aircraft or submarine) is in a three-dimensional environment.  If the environment is only two-dimensional, much of the blast goes upward to endanger only birds and aircraft that happen to be in the area.  The damage area is proportional to the two-thirds root of the explosive power.  A one-ton (0.001 kiloton) bomb is therefore 0.01 equivalent kiloton, and 75,000 add up to 750 equivalent kilotons.  The Hiroshima bomb, at 15 kilotons, did as much area damage as about 6.1 one-kiloton bombs dropped separately.  Seven hundred fifty divided by 6.1 is more than 120.

In summary, then, the difference between the war in Gaza and traditional wars is twofold.  Unlike legal combatants of all nations who carry their arms openly, follow the rules of war, and do not use civilians as human shields, Hamas consists solely of terrorists who deserve death.  In addition, even though Hamas does its best to use noncombatants as human shields, Israel has done close to a superhuman job of excising the terrorists with minimal harm to their human surroundings.

Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way.  The author is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to “cancel culture” for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.



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Margarett Kucera