02 June 2010


The Atlantic | Megan McArdle | Expansion and Clarification

There is some misunderstanding about my point about international waters, which is undoubtedly due to my own lack of clarity. I was not arguing about whether Israel may, or may not, stop blockade runners before they hit territorial waters, though I got dragged into that morass in the comments. Rather, the point is that dropping commandos onto a ship in international waters is explicitly a military operation. And people who are being attacked by the military are justified in violent response. That's what war is: attack, and violent response. People who are resisting the police, on the other hand, are not behaving in a legitimate fashion, unless they are victims of some odious totalitarian regime. Israel exercising its policing power over its own waters is different from Israel engaging in a military raid.
[Emph. mine.] Is McArdle really saying that if you're sailing along a few yards outside of territorial waters and the marines board your vessel you can respond forcefully, but if you're a few yards inside territorial waters and armed harbor patrol officers board you that you have to stand down and cooperate? That's absurd.

Exercising violence in a military manner is different from exercising violence in a police capacity, but responding to violence is exactly the same in either, as is responding to criminal violence. If you are being attacked it does not matter what the attacker's business card says. If someone is doing unjustified violence to you it doesn't matter whether they're wearing army greens or cop blues, or whether they report to a general or a police chief, or whether the operation was ordered by the ministry of defense of the ministry of police. Morally there is no obligation to refrain from defending yourself only when it's a cop attacking you but not a soldier. As always there may be an entire world of practical difference, but morally force is force, and resistance is resistance.

NB I don't give a toot about the specifics of this blockade hullabaloo near Gaza. The whole situation bores me. I'm talking about generalities here.

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