OK, I do have something to say about the current Israel-Hezbolla conflict.
Legal scholars who want to focus on the UN Charter as the sole source of legal authority for the use of force – and hence see any armed action by a party as having to be ‘proportionate’ pending some (typically mythological) intervention by the Security Council – tend to underplay that the Charter does not remove the customary law of self-defense, which does not require a “proportionate” response once belligerency is underway.
Obviously Professor Anderson doesn’t live in England. “Proportionality” is imbedded in their self-defense law – at least when they want it to be. In England, the mere intention to cause harm is an imprisonable offence. Said Judge Shirley Anwyl at the sentencing of Brett Osborne for stabbing Wayne Halling:
“By your plea you have accepted that you intended real serious injury. Your use of violence was not wholly unpremeditated in that you did equip yourself with at least one knife.”
Mr. Halling, hopped to the eyeballs on cocaine, and bleeding profusely from numerous cuts resulting from his smashing windows, had forced his way into Mr. Osborne’s home, where Mr. Osborne had several houseguests, including a pregnant woman whom Mr. Halling apparently mistook for his estranged girlfriend. Mr. Osborne, in fear for his safety and that of his guests, picked up a steak knife and stabbed Mr. Halling with it.
This was, apparently, “not proportional.” Judge Anwyl stated that she accepted that Halling could have been perceived to be “dangerous to others,” but:
With hindsight it is clear that Halling was presenting no real danger to anyone but himself.
I am reminded here of Col. Jeff Cooper’s famous response concerning aggression by attackers:
One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that “violence begets violence.” I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure—and in some cases I have—that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.
There’s nothing “proportional” in that.
Nor should there be. Neither Israel nor Brett Osborne should be criticized for acting appropriately.