EQUALLY -- YES!...

EQUALLY -- YES! I was really hoping that my claim that Israel's targeting of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and Hezbollah's use of indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli cities were "equally indefensible" would bring forth an outraged condemnation of my "moral equivalence." It seems I'll have to settle for Jon Chait saying he doesn't "see how [I] could morally equate the actions of the two sides."

I think it's pretty easy. Jon says Israel has been "attacking the parts of Lebanon's infrastructure that could be used to spirit the kidnapped soldiers out of the country, and followed it up by trying to destroy Hezbollah's artillery." No objection to destroying Hezbollah's artillery from me. It's the civilian infrastructure part that bothers me. Jon wants to say this is justified because Israel needs to prevent the captured soldiers from being moved out of the country. I don't think this holds any water -- surely Hezbollah can transport two guys across the Syrian border even if the roads, ports, and airstrips are destroyed. It only takes one off-road vehicle. Nor does this theory really explain why Israel hit Beirut's power plant.

Israel's anti-infrastructure campaign is aimed at the exact same objective as Hezbollah's rocket attacks -- they're trying to inflict pain on the Lebanese population in order to extract concessions from the Lebanese government. The situations are asymmetrical in two main ways. First, the Israeli government is actually capable of meeting Hezbollah's demands -- the release of captive Hezbollah guerillas and a cessation to Israeli military action, whereas all indications are that the Lebanese government actually can't make Hezbollah release the captive Israelis or disarm it. Second, as Jon says, Israel's strikes are targeted while Hezbollah's are random. This deserves some weight, but not very much. Many, many, many more Lebanese than Israeli civilians have been killed in the fighting so far. What's more, I'm sure Hezbollah would be thrilled to have more accurate missiles that let them target key elements of Israeli infrastructure -- the ports, Ben-Gurion airport, power plants, etc. -- rather than spraying rockets at random. Such attacks would inflict far more pain on the Israeli population writ large than these untargeted rocket strikes do.

--Matthew Yglesias

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