Unlike Davies, his tone is sober. Like Davies he reaches a very very harsh conclusion on Walzer, basically arguing that Walzer could not have written his column in good faith.
"It's particularly sad then that his comments ad bellum Gazae are so jejune.
First, he only considers proportionality, briefly mentions alternate means - but not the default course of doing nothing -, and ignores definite aim and chances of success, all part of the standard just war toolkit. Since he has literally written the book on this, the omissions lend support to Davies' imputation of bad faith.
Second, what he has to say about proportionality is weird. He conflates proportionality AB and IB, an elementary mistake - or, you have to think, sophistical manoeuvre:"
(Wimberly defines and apologizes for the Latin and the Latin acronyms further up in his post).
Unlike Davies and Zasloff, Wimberly actually convinced me to read the Walzer column I am a fan of Walzer, but know about his record commenting on Israel, and didn't expect to enjoy the experience. I didn't. Walzer does indeed ignore "definite aim and chance of success" which he listed as requirements for Justice of War in "Just and Unjust Wars." Basically, he feels no need to address the argument that Israel's war effort is strongly counter to Israel's interests and that proportionality between civilian deaths and damage to Israel is not the kind of porportionality that might justify bombing.
Wimberly makes this argument much better than I do of course. It is devastating.
Also, Walzer complains that people accused Israel of a disproportionate response at the very beginning of the bombing campaign -- before counting civilian casualties. This seems to be a reasonable thing to do to me, since if you have reason to believe that a lot of people are going to die, you might try to prevent their deaths and not wait to count them, but let's concede he is right on that point. He does not, however, assess the proportionality after counting civilian casualties.
Because proportionality arguments are forward-looking, and because we don't have positive, but only speculative, knowledge about the future, we need to be very cautious in using this justification. The commentators and critics using it today, however, are not being cautious at all; they are not making any kind of measured judgment, not even a speculative kind. "Disproportionate" violence for them is simply violence they don't like, or it is violence committed by people they don't like.
So Israel's Gaza war was called "disproportionate" on day one, before anyone knew very much about how many people had been killed or who they were.
This is, to put it as politely as possible, gibberish. He says we must be cautious when using proportionality as a justification, then he concludes that we must be cautious when saying an act of war is not justified. It is clear to me that advocates of the use of force are wrong until decisively proven right unless they are Israeli in which case they are right until they are decisively proven wrong.
Well except if they were condemned before there was decisive proof. In that case the case is dismissed for prosecutorial misconduct by their critics and there is no need to look at further evidence on the proportion between civilian deaths and war aims (where wishes are good enough and any coherent argument that the war will contribute to the aims is optional).
Ugh. I knew I wouldn't enjoy reading the column.
Anyway, my original motivation for commenting on Wimberly was to complain about this "You would have thought that Google had finished this ploy: the string "IDF tactics Gaza civilians risks" returned 46,000 hits, with Haaretz - not The Guardian - twice on the first page."
Actually no. I googled "IDF tactics Gaza civilians risks" and got 2 hits one of which was Wimberly's post and the other was a post linking to it.. Wimberly googled the following string: IDF + tactics + Gaza + civilians + risks
I mean one just can't use quotation marks in the usual way when describing google strings, You don't have to type the +s of course. I'd say
"the string -- IDF tactics Gaza civilians risks -- returned 46,000 hits," would be OK, but not with quotation marks.
Wimberley is criticizing this passage
The third question: Is the attacking army acting in concrete ways to minimize the risks they impose on civilians? Are they taking risks themselves for that purpose? Armies choose tactics that are more or less protective of the civilian population, and we judge them by their choices. I haven't heard this question asked about the Gaza war by commentators and critics in the Western media;
Walzer's problem is that he doesn't keep up with "the media" which currently includes the internet and can be kept up with only with google. If he had written "non Israeli Western mass media" he would have what seems to me, given my limited google skills, a point. A google News search of IDF + tactics + Gaza + civilians + risks gives 4 hits of which only one is non-Izraeli mass media (the BBC) and that posted 2 days after Walzer's article.
I mean there are people who don't google and we have to take them at their word that they haven't heard things which we read again and again on blogs.
Aside from that, Wimberley is devastating.