The Tradeoff between Force and Casualties
The Gaza War between Israel and Hamas in winter 2009, in which excessive use of lethal force caused the deaths of many Gazan non-combatants, shed light on how casualty shyness leads democracies to use excessive force to reduce the risk to which soldiers are exposed at the expense of the opponentâ€™s non-combatant fatalities. This can be termed the force/casualty tradeoff (FCT). Because this tradeoff is only one manifestation of state action, a more thorough analysis is required to recognize variances in the stateâ€™s space of action. Arguably, and by drawing on the case of Gaza, the FCT reflects the interplay between two sets of legitimacies: legitimacy of sacrifice and the legitimacy to use force. The relations between these two legitimacies determine the stateâ€™s space of action in the military domain: low legitimacy of sacrifice coupled with high legitimacy to use force yields the FCT, while other variations in the profile of these legitimacies produce other results.
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