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"In fact, the Amnesty report is based on a set of assumptions about international law that are shared by some international lawyers — especially those affiliated with self-styled ‘human rights’ groups — but which are rejected by most militaries and are impossible to reconcile with the governing legal texts. At the heart of this dispute is a fundamental disagreement about the purpose of the law of war: Is it to regulate war, while minimizing harm to civilians? Or is it to protect civilians above all other considerations?" "The recent Amnesty report illustrates the legal understandings used by those who would invoke the law of war to delegitimize it entirely. Under current law, killing civilians as a collateral consequence of an otherwise legitimate attack on a military target is illegal only if (to quote the Geneva Conventions) it is ‘excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.’ Although it frequently denounces Israel’s recent campaign in Gaza as a whole and labels specific incidents in which civilians were killed as disproportionate, Amnesty never once in its report gives any consideration whatsoever to any possible military justification for the challenged actions. Not once. It tries to avoid this problem by labeling Israeli attacks “indiscriminate” but offers no proof that Israel has engaged in such attacks other than the fact that civilians were killed." "What undergirds Amnesty’s call for an arms embargo, however, is a unilateral revision of the law of war to eliminate consideration of military effectiveness, in favor of the protection of civilians. It would be wonderful if war could be waged that way, but of course it can’t. Today’s target is Israel, but the bloodless war Amnesty would require — on penalty of a war crimes prosecution — would, as a practical matter, outlaw all military action against irregular forces, according groups like the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda de facto immunity from military action. Amnesty may in good faith believe that its view is the way forward. But the texts of the law of war, agreed to by the nations of the world faced with real threats to their security, lend no support to Amnesty’s dewy-eyed view."