McNamara, Proportionality, and War

As we work towards establishing a deeper understanding of the topics that Kurt Vonnegut is writing about, it makes sense to deal first hand with the issue of proportionality. In short, there are two principles which are wrapped into the term. First, it refers to the responsibility of nations to act only in response to a direct threat “if an armed attack occurs,” (United Nations Charter, Article 2). Second, it is also the responsibility of nations involved in wars to ensure that damages are limited to specifically military targets and that attacks are not indiscriminate. Naturally, this idea calls into question a number of relatively well known military actions, perhaps most notably the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the following video Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, discusses the idea of proportionality as it pertains the Hiroshima.


McNamara on Proportionality – Excerpts from the documentary¬†The Fog of War. (No, I don’t know why it is sub-titled in Japanese).