Kamm on Lebanon: full marks

Oliver Kamm's Guardian article today (18 August) gets it right first time, and should be compulsory reading for all those who have been berating Tony Blair for not having demanded an immediate unconditional cease-fire from the first day of the Israeli counter-offensive.  The only additional point that Kamm omits is to expose the fallacy which assumes that if the British government had 'demanded' a cease-fire, a cease-fire would immediately have taken place.  In fact it's hard to see how such a demand could have affected events on the ground in any way. 

I realise that Mr Kamm's views are sometimes controversial (and that this is an example of that).  But being controversial doesn't make them wrong. 

Those who have posted dissenting comments on earlier Ephems items here — and in doing so have often opened up informative and challenging debate — may be assured that their silence on this item will not be taken as indicating their agreement.  If you feel like continuing these discussions I suggest that you do so by adding comments to the earlier item on 'Who won? No-one, yet'.  Comments on specific points in Oliver Kamm's piece are of course welcome either here or on the Guardian's Comment is Free blog where the Kamm article also appears. 

Footnote for nerds:  this is the first post that I have written in MS Windows Live Writer (Beta), an editor or virtual word processor specially designed for writing and uploading blog entries.  It's easy to download, install, and (so far) use.  Hat-tips: Owen's blog (how did you guess?) and Jack Schofield's Newsbytes in Technology Guardian of 17 August 06.


1 Response

  1. Rob says:

    Kamm's argument strikes me as being something like, we should be pleased about Israel's attempts to destroy Hizbullah because Hizbullah is an Iranian proxy, and Iran is generally evil. Granting that, none of which I'm particularly well-placed to dispute, what seems lacking in Kamm's argument is, first, the sense that even if all that's true, it might not justify having used the specific methods Israel used to attempt to destroy Hizbullah, and second, the sense in which even if all that's true, Hizbullah hasn't yet been disarmed, and is I think in a stronger political position than it was before the conflict. We might call Kamm's argument the 'any means' argument: his assumption seems to be that if an end is good, then anything which might serve as a means to it must be good. That's clearly a not very good argument. Also, ought I to take from your agreement with Kamm that you've given up on the Hizbullah are an existential threat line?

    Brian replies: Not at all.  Your argument seems to deny Israel's right to defend itself by the use of such force as will offer the best possible chance of preventing or significantly reducing the scope of future aggression against it, provided that the force used is proportionate to that aim (it doesn't have to be, and indeed can't logically be, proportionate to individual acts of aggression against it).  Past and present aggression by Hezbollah, Hamas, etc., is entirely within the context of the objective of wiping the state of Israel off the map.