One of the more prodigiously stupid themes of modern times, and that's going some given the amazing level of fatuity that prevails these days, is that of "proportional response," invariably mentioned in the context of the current hostilities between the State of Israel and the whatever-the-bloody-hell-it-is of Hezbollah. Israel, we are told, is wreaking havoc in Lebanon, where Hezbollah maintains its sanctuary; yes, Hezbollah has done some Bad Things, but Israel is just completely overreacting, and as a result, the stability of the Middle East is once again at stake.

Even if you buy into the fantasy that Hezbollah is something other than a terrorist organization, in which case bless you and please be on your way, the very idea of "proportional response" is ludicrous; the only reason it gets any play in the media at all is because that moral midget Kofi Annan keeps spouting off about it. Sample:

I condemn all actions which target civilians, or which unduly endanger them due to their disproportionate or indiscriminate character. I would like to remind the parties that under the law of armed conflict, attacks must not be directed against civilian objects. In particular, they have an obligation to exercise precaution and to respect the proportionality principle in all military operations so as to prevent unnecessary suffering among the civilian population. I call on all parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and international agreements.

One looks in vain for any evidence that Hezbollah is doing anything whatsoever to "prevent unnecessary suffering among the civilian population," but then Kofi wasn't talking to them.

To quote Baron Bodissey:

As someone recently said, it's like a bank robbery — when the call comes in that three men are robbing a bank, then the cops can only send in three patrolmen to stop them.

Or imagine that you're woken up in the middle of the night by a burglar in the living room. You grab your twelve-gauge and creep down the stairs very quietly. But when you flip on the light and surprise the burglar, he's armed with only a knife! What do you do? Why, you drop the shotgun, rush to the kitchen, and rummage through the drawers for a knife. And not just any knife — it has to be no longer or sharper than the one the burglar has!

Of course, if you're a British householder, you don't have the shotgun to grab in the first place. Not only that, you can't pick up a knife of any size to confront the thief with; otherwise you could end up in court on serious charges yourself. No, all you can do is sit down on the couch and say, "Help yourself, mate. Can I get you a cup of tea?"

Even our fictional officials know better than this. From The West Wing: