What Is Collective Punishment?

More

To what extent is a state permitted to target another polity's civilian population for political and strategic reasons? It's a tricky question - because sanctions can sometimes be effective weapons against regimes, while hurting civilians. Think of the 1990s in Iraq. Now think of Gaza under Israeli siege. Here's a Wikileaks cable revealing the US's deep enmeshment in Jerusalem's policy toward Gazans:

"As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge," one of the cables read. Israel wanted the coastal territory's economy "functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis," according to the November 3, 2008 cable.

The public position of the Israeli government - best seen here - was that there never was a humanitarian crisis. Their actual position was to keep Gaza on the very edge of one. Is that a distinction without a difference? Or is it, in fact, a relatively civilized collective torment? Since it seems to me a policy designed to achieve the maximal pain for Gazans within Israel's actual international capacity I lean toward the former. There is a defense of sanctions against a terror state like Hamas' Gaza. And then there is a long-term war of attrition against an entire people's welfare.

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down