Proportional Responses

Last week, Iran-backed terrorist organizations in Iraq fired rockets into an Iraqi military base that housed, among others, American and British soldiers, killing two American soldiers and one British soldier, a medic.

In response, we struck some of those terrorists’ operating locations.

The US strikes targeted five separate weapons storage facilities in Iraq associated with Kataib Hezbollah, a Shiite militia group operating in Iraq that US officials said has frequently targeted bases where American service members are based.
The strikes aimed to degrade the group’s ability to conduct future attacks against US and coalition forces….

And this:

The strikes were “defensive and proportional,” the Pentagon said….

On this, “the Pentagon” is dead wrong.

Tit-for-tat is not proportional; it just facilitates action-reaction cycles with mounting damage, casualties, collateral casualties, and collateral damage. This is demonstrated by a subsequent terrorist rocket attack on the same base Saturday, this one wounding three of our soldiers and two Iraqi soldiers.

A proportional response isn’t a tit-for-tat one, it doesn’t aim to degrade anything. It is an overwhelming one that destroys our enemy’s ability to act further in hostility. That is what stops the action-reaction cycle and holds down the totality of damage and casualties.

Proportionality must be considered against the overall, long-term situation, not against any single event.

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