"If Israel proves to be 10 percent better ethically than the rest of the world, it will be 'a light unto the nations.' If it proves to be 25% better, it will bring the Messiah. If it is 50% better, it will be dead." --Irving Greenberg
One of the truly aggravating things about those criticizing Israel for it's recent actions is that there is been virtually no effort to articulate what would be a reasonable response for Israel in this case. Matthew tried to argue that Israel should enter into negotiations with Lebanon, a country with which it has been in a technical state of war with since Israel's inception, has no diplomatic relations with, and, oh yeah, has two ministers and over 20 parliamentarians who are members of Hezbollah. Aside from that--shall I call it fanciful?--suggestion, there has been no counter proposal whatsoever.
So, based on the critiques I've heard so far, I offer the following proposal of my own for an Israeli response. I admit it won't be ideal (nor is the current one), but I am curious if the critics of Israel would find it preferable (not "just" but perhaps "less unjust") to the current set of tactics.
Basically, it runs like this. Israel cease all of its current military operations in Lebanon, and will instead just lob unguided, untargeted missiles randomly into Lebanese territory. This is clearly superior to what they're doing now, where they are running precisely targeted strikes at significant pieces of infrastructure. Hitting important targets, obviously, raises the civilian casualties, because Hezbollah has made a policy of mixing its military equipment and facilities into civilian areas (the goal being to maximize civilian casualties and then turn that into a PR victory. But that could never work...). Presumably, randomly firing off rockets can also cause civilian casualties, but since they could land anywhere (from a busy city street to an unpopulated meadow), the odds are strong that the total death toll and damage will be smaller. And of course, these types of rockets (Qassams and Katayushas, presumably) have far smaller destructive capabilities than conventional Israeli arms, so that also cuts in favor of the "reduced damage" hypothesis. Furthermore, many of Israel's stated goals ("sending a message", for example, or having a deterrent effect) would be served equally as well by random shelling compared to the status quo. And even if not "as well", the fact that Israel can pursue this tact with reduced civilian casualties mandates that they take it, even if it means significantly reduced military efficacy.
The disadvantages to this have already been shown to be irrelevant. Israel would no longer be targeting specific sites of military value (such as airports or military bases or Hezbollah outposts). The corollary, of course, is that Israel could no longer leaflet the targeted areas warning civilians to leave, minimizing the casualties, because they have no idea where the rockets are going to land anymore. But since Israel has gained no points for trying to actually target locations of military significance (indeed, has been criticized since these locales have had a large civilian presence), this is really a small loss compared to the large civilian gain. It would also bear very little connection to getting back the missing soldiers, compared to targeting transportation hubs so that they can't be smuggled out. But as the comments in the previous posts have made clear, the lives of these two men (and their dignity, since they're likely to face torture) is of small utilitarian consequence compared to the civilian damage Israel would be doing (indeed, it's "ethnocentric" to think otherwise!). All told, under the commentary I've received from my previous posts, it would be qualitatively better for Israel to randomly sow terror throughout Lebanon haphazardly, than it is for Israel to actually try and wage its attacks within the laws of war. And since we've had very stringent standards of anything less than perfect being immoral, we can conclude that Israel is not just unwise, but inarguably evil for not pursuing this course.
Stepping back into reality for the moment. I have become more and more convinced that there is literally no feasible response by Israel to the current crisis that would be acceptable to a large chunk of the world community. This is not a determination you want me or they to make. It's not that I don't see a moral difference between a targeted military strike and carpet-bombing the entirety of Southern Lebanon. It's just that I'm not convinced the critics do, and if they're going to denounce Israel with equal shrillness regardless of what it does, frustration builds to the breaking point, and it becomes that much easier to disregard even the sane voices advising caution.
In the through-the-looking-glass world we live in, otherwise smart, intelligent people advocate standards of morality which prefer indiscriminate shelling to targeted strikes on targets of military importance (no, they don't say it directly, but it is clearly implicit in the standards they give. And I have yet to see my friend Matt's blog have a decidated "Hezbollah: WTF?" post, or Iran, or Syria). I refuse to abide by those standards.
For the record, should we keep up on this kick of proportionate response meaning body equals body: 12 million people died in the Holocaust. In the conflict that brewed, in part, to save them, an additional 50 million people died, including 25 million civilians. Is that in proportion? Are we to say that World War II was unjust? Or perhaps when confronted with radical evil, with bona fide war, we might have to adjust our standards--not to act inhumanely, but to recognize that civilian casualties are an inevitability of war, and that forcing Israel to constantly be its own Sudetenland is not a strategy, not an option, and not permissible.