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?


21 thoughts on “Proportional Response Required?”

  1. Russia warns U.S. to stop ‘hostile’ flights after Black Sea drone collision (

    The Kremlin has warned the United States to cease “hostile” activity near its borders and said it would seek to retrieve the wreckage of the American drone that crashed into the Black Sea after a dramatic encounter with Russian fighter jets.

    Kyiv said Wednesday that the incident — the first known direct confrontation between the two superpowers since Russia invaded Ukraine last year — illustrated the Kremlin’s desire to expand the conflict.


    The U.S. military said a Russian fighter jet harassed and then collided with the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper on Tuesday, forcing the U.S. to bring the drone down in international waters. Washington said it was a “brazen violation of international law” and summoned Moscow’s envoy to lodge a protest.

    But Russia denied its planes came “into contact” with the drone and said the U.S. was to blame, accusing it of a provocation by conducting surveillance near Russian airspace to help Ukraine. 


    The U.S. summoned Antonov to the State Department over the incident, spokesperson Ned Price told reporters Tuesday, to convey “strong objections” to this “unsafe unprofessional intercept.”

    The meeting between Antonov and Karen Donfried, the assistant secretary for Eurasian affairs, lasted less than an hour, a senior State Department official said.

    Two U.S. defense officials said the Russian jet that collided with the drone did not crash but instead landed in Crimea.

    They said it is the first time they are aware of a Russian jet dropping fuel on a U.S. aircraft during an intercept.

    The U.S. has wiped out the drone’s software and is considering its salvage options for the wreckage, but Russia can reach whatever remains of the drone faster than a U.S. ship, the officials said. The U.S. would need to send a ship through the Bosporus from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, while Russia has ships in the Black Sea. 

    Turkey has resisted permission for U.S. and other warships to transit the strait in recent months, they said.

  2. The U.S. and Russian militaries made direct contact with each other over the Black Sea, Florida’s governor appears to be giving aid and comfort to Russia’s leader, and the former president’s new lawyer came straight from the discount attorney bin.

  3. West Wing, first season, the concept of proportionality is covered. 
    My initial thoughts on what the russians (soviets in putties pea brain) did seemed off, first dump fuel on the aircraft, then break the prop.  Why dump fuel?  However, we might see that the pilots were not trying to break the aircraft, they were trying to burn it up.  Cover something in jet fuel and then do a pass over it to set it on fire with a burp of the afterburners.  But, for some reason they hit the prop.  It is very dangerous to ram things in the air, too many things can go wrong, like parts go in your engine and you end up trying to swim to shore.

  4. I’m trying to figure out how a jet with a stall speed of 240 kph engages a drone with a stall speed of 100 kph without using weapons. 

  5. Increase surveillance flights, in case they were trying to intimidate us into pulling back. Although seems like this could be hotshot pilots on a lark, which is still bad.

  6. You write off the drone, an undermined Russian offensive is a pretty good trade for an unmanned aircraft 

    We’re not trying to exact vengeance for a R/C plane, are we?

  7. This sounds like our response, wouldn’t be happening without a green light from Biden.

    BREAKING AP: Poland’s president says his country plans to give Ukraine a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets. It would become the first NATO member country to fulfill the Ukrainian government’s increasingly urgent requests for warplanes.

  8. And Ukrainian pilots already trained on MIGs, so they can be operational quite soon.

    Plus, we’re already training Ukrainian pilots on F-16s in Arizona. Putin is in for a world of hurt.

    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.

    Give the number of civilians including children the Russians have slaughtered, it is obvious Putin is a war criminal and deserves anything negative that can be done to him.



  9. Finnegan’s Wake.     I spent a good bit of time with that one.
      The “Cliff Notes” were 3 volumes……………Ba-dump.

  10. Used to love that one phrase:
    .’riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”

    Onliest reason i even fooled with it was because the portrait of the artist was so hip.

  11. I saw Jimmy Piersall get thrown out of a baseball game in Birmingham, Alabama for acting like a monkey at the umpire. 

  12. I’ve had Nellie Fox not only refuse to sign my Nellie Fox ball glove but tell me to fuck off while he was at it. The prick.  LOL
    I had even brought my own Magic Marker.

  13. Canadian comedian Glen Foster has Canadian attention deficit disorder, “ADHD, eh?”

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