Proportional Response Required?

“Proportionality” does not mean responding to an attack with force equivalent to the force of the attack. Rather, it means using only so much force as is necessary to thwart future attacks. (This is also known as the principle of minimum force.) It has nothing to do with the amount of damage caused by the attack to which one is responding.

Nor does proportionality apply only to responses to aggression; it can apply to preemption of realistically anticipated future acts of aggression as well.

What “proportionality” does mean

“Proportionality” is one of two concepts that form the Jus in bello doctrine — the other being “distinction.” Distinction requires that combatants make a good-faith effort to direct their fire only at enemy combatant targets. Proportionality requires that combatants use force in such a way as to minimize unnecessary damage, particularly to noncombatants and civilian infrastructure. The principle of proportionality can be expressed in two different ways:

  1. An attack must not be carried out if it is known (or should “reasonably” be known) that the damage to civilians will be out of proportion to the military advantage to be gained by the attack.
  2. An attack must not be carried out — even against purely military targets — with weapons that are significantly more destructive than are necessary to achieve the military objective of the attack.

It’s crucial to understand that neither standard of proportionality represents a mathematical proportion that can be objectively calculated: the proportion here is a matter of how (or if!) politicians and military commanders do their thinking. Comparing casualty counts tells us essentially nothing about proportionality in armed conflict.

[above from Times of Israel 2021]

So, Trail Mixers, applying the above to the recent downing of an American military intel drone by Russia, what would the proper proportional response be if any?

Perhaps the usual eye for an eye – literally in this case an eye in the sky for an eye in the sky or something more creative and cunning?