I live in Santa Cruz, California. It’s a reasonable prosperous town. It’s white except for the cooks and the leaf blower jockeys. Forty minutes by car south from here lies the town of Watsonville. It’s mostly Latino and considerably poorer than Santa Cruz. It has a notoriously corrupt city government and a much bigger gang problem than does Santa Cruz. Roughly, my town is mostly law-abiding, Watsonville is largely lawless. There is little by way of movements of population between the two towns except that some people from Watsonville commute to low-level jobs in Santa Cruz.
I am trying to figure what I would do if the Watsonville city government encouraged or even if it failed to stop explosive projectiles from flying from its town into mine. What if some group in Watsonville – its municipal government or anyone else – bombed me, however ineffectually? I imagine it might destroy a tree one day, blow up some windows another day, kill a dog the next day, and ended up grazing a child’s leg the next. Then, quickly, I would think: Next week their competence is going to improve, or they will simply just get lucky, and they will kill my granddaugher. How long would I stay still, I ask myself?
The answer is: not long, days at best.
I hope my better, reasonable side would take over. I hope that I would not demand a bloodbath on the shooters. If I were moderate, I would look to a promise to drain the swamp for good. I would give the authorities in the other town a small number of days to stop the aggression. Then, I would proceed to take many measures to empty that town of its population. One way would be to simply stop as much as I could both necessities and luxuries from reaching the town. I would probably not kill anyone not caught weapons in hand. (I would kill everyone of those on the spot that I could.) Instead, I would seek to make life there extremely unpleasant by every other means. Cutting of the water would be fine, power, even better. I would seek to trigger an exodus. To my mind, it wouldn’t be “collective punishment” but prevention.
Being a pragmatist, I would also consider given the residents of that other town economic incentives to leave: Go away and remain reasonably well off or chose to stay and your life will be hell. The old stick and carrot, in that order. Most of them are innocent except that they elected exactly those who seek to do me harm. When they were elected, the elected promised to do me harm. No surprise there.
I would not stop until the only people left in that other town would be the non-mobile abandoned by local government, and the shooters themselves. The fate of the first, I would say would be morally the responsibility of that other town’s government. I would use every lethal weapon against the others until they died or surrendered unconditionally.
I see it coming: What if there were many people in Watsonville who hated you, or your fellow Santacruzans for a good reason, because you did them much harm in the past that you never repaired? What if that’s why they are bombing you?
Same thing. It’s my moral duty to fix what I broke, however far in the past. But I want a reasonable certainty that the hateful actions against me will stop if I do fix things. My worst case scenario is one where I do all the necessary repairs and the bombings continue. This involves both a strategic and a moral guess.
Now, what if the other guys said, “We will bomb you whatever you do”? “We will no stop until you are dead,eradicated, gone”? In that case, I would feel zero compulsion to seek a peaceful solution. I would also pay no attention to the people in some other, third town, say in San Francisco – not at risk at all – advising me to exercise moderation . I would ignore such advice as much as I could.
How about you? What would you do?
Another thing: The fastest way to peace is not “proportionate response,” it’s crushing victory. It may even be the most humane way, sparing the lives even of people on the other side.
Postscript: There is nothing wrong with Watsonville, California. No one from there has bombed Santa Cruz. It was just a tale.
Update: I read on Facebook that Israel provoked the current hot crisis. I wonder what it did. I am open. Use the Comment section, please.
An excerpt from the Hamas Covenant:
“Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam.” (Bolding mine.)
The Hamas Covenant, Article thirty-one. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp