On 1st February this year the current legal Prime Minister Olmert of Israel vowed to respond with 'disproportionate' force in response to Hamas rocket attacks during a cabinet meeting.
'Disproportionate' force is currently listed as a war crime. At the very least this represents sloppy use of language by the Prime Minister which if allowed to stand without rebuke undermines international law.
At worst this creates a dangerous precedent for nations picking and choosing which international laws it will obey.
If Israel has a problem with the law it should at least indicate the reasons why it cannot comply in accordance with the principles of good governance--comply or explain.
However let us put PM Olmert's comments in full context. PM Olmert is currently the legal Prime Minister of Israel and he made his comments during a cabinet meeting. This means that his remarks represent part of the official direction to the Israeli Defence Force Chiefs as to how Israeli defence forces are to conduct themselves; these directions stay in force until countermanded by another cabinet decision.
We can now expect Israeli defence forces to respond with 'disproportionate' force at some time in the future in accordance with their current political direction.
Since we know about his comments, if we do nothing we will be in the position of knowing a war crime is about to be committed in advance and of having done nothing to prevent it.
Silence in the eyes of the law means yes or agreement.
George Bush never openly vowed to commit war crimes, when he felt restricted by international law he at least went to the trouble of getting permissive legal opinions as to where the boundaries were and then to the best of my knowledge stayed within them.
Compliance with the law is the price we pay for the benefits of living in community. In the past people who chose to act outside the law were considered Out-Laws.
If we are not prepared to uphold the law then we should change the law, lest prohibiting a conduct loses all meaning.The message we send by not saying anything is that the use of 'disproportionate' force is now acceptable international behaviour.