Wednesday, July 20, 2005

the nuclear option

the nuclear option

No, I'm not talking about a way of ending filibusters.

It isn't often that I find myself disagreeing with Glenn Reynolds, Ed Morrisey, Hugh Hewitt, and Betsy Newmark on an issue. This is one of those times.

Congressman Tom Tancredo, when asked a hypothetical question by Pat Campbell of WFLA about a possible American response to an al-Quaeda nuclear attack on American cities, responded that one solution would be to bomb Mecca. To quote Hugh Hewitt:

"Destroying Mecca wouldn't destroy Islam. It would enrage and unify Islam across every country in the world where Muslims lived."

Hewitt seems to think that a nuclear attack by Islamic fanatics has nothing to do with Islam, despite the oft-stated goals of Osama bin Laden. He also seems to think that a simultaneous nuclear attack on Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and Washington would not enrage Americans. This is so naive as to be stupid.

Now, Rep. Tancredo did not specifically say "nuke Mecca", but the implication is clearly there. Hugh Hewitt is wrong about what such a retaliatory attack would mean. If Mecca is radioactive, then the Hajj is impossible, and Islam is finished. Enrage and unify Islam? It would destroy it utterly. It would be a vivid demonstration that Allah sure as hell ain't Akhbar.

Note that such an attack would be in retaliation for a devastating Islamic extremist attack; a nuclear or smallpox attack or some such. This hypothetical attack would be a de facto declaration of Total War.

If America wins a Total War, then its enemies actually stand a chance of surviving. If America loses a Total War, then every American is slaughtered. It really is as simple as that.

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Anonymous said...

Did the destructions of the Temple in Jerusalem end Judaism? Obviously not. It had a huge impact on the way that Jews practised their faith, but it didn't spell the end of it.

By the same token, I'm not sure your idea of singling out Mecca for destruction (which I find abhorrent) would have the effect you're looking for.

Ed said...

Orwell, Judaism does not require the Hajj. If it did, and Jerusalem was uninhabitable for a century, then Judaism would have ended.

Odd that you find the nuking of Mecca abhorrent, but not the nuking of Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, and Washington. If you are an American, I suggest you reexamine your priorities.

Anonymous said...

Israelite religion required sacrifices: no Temple, no sacrifices. But the religious community adapted its faith to the loss of the Temple and has survived pogroms and Holocausts since. Religions are always adapting to their surroundings and I see no reason why Islam wouldn't do the same.

I should have been clearer and you shouldn't jump to conclusions. I think any nuclear attack would be abhorrent, no matter who did it. At the same time, I have no problem with using deadly force against terrorists. And I manage to hold these opinions while remaining Canadian. ;-)

Ed said...

OK, my mistake, you're not American. I'm Canadian too by the way.

The notion that Islam would adapt to the loss of Mecca to a nuclear attack is ludicrous. What more potent example of the powerlessness of Allah could there be?

Recall that this was all to be in response to a hypothetical nuclear attack on 6 or 7 American cities. And your response would be... arresting a handful of people? Killing a handful of terrorists?

If your opinion is the mainstream, then there is nothing to prevent the aforementioned nuclear attack on America. Nothing. It will happen, America is doomed. Oh, but all those nice Canadians will be spared to have their gay-pride parades and homosexual marriages.

Yeah right.

Anonymous said...

first of all, destroying any city is an act of terrorism no matter where where and how. using religion as a way for killing innocent people is terrorism in its worst practice. i am a canadian too and muslim too. do u think by nuking mecca that the religion of islam would stop or cease to exist? " never". it has been around for thousands of years and it will continue. all sick minds and sick people would think that way. this way of thinking whether to nuke any city in north america is not only sick too but absolutely obsurd.

Bin Laden does not represent Islam or Muslims. you should think of who supported him during the soviet war and occupation in Afghanistan? just like Saddam Hussein? who did he serve best especially when he inveded Iran? and who gave the blessings to do that? The States. have you asked your self, how many Iraqi Muslims died in the last Gulf war? the last estimate was more than 25,000 people. what about those lives? why can't you say something about that as a human being? what about the tens of thousands of dead palestinians on the hands of the jewish Army that have died and die everyday? what about the millions of palestinian and muslim refugees that have been kicked out of their land more than 50 years ago under because of the creation of Israel? why can't you talk about all the millions of innocent people who have died defending their right to live? have a look at South Africa. after 300 years of a total racist government that killed tousands of the truthful land owners, only now they have come on top. Nelson Mandella did not lose 27 yrs of his life in prison for nothing. it is the right to live. this has nothing to do with Islam and bombimg Mecca. Islam will live because it a religion of forgiveness and it is the only religion that accepts other religions to exist especially Judasiam and Christianity. Islam will live no matter what is done and who does it.

Ed said...


I hardly know where to begin. First of all, "less than 1500 years" is not "thousands of years".

Secondly, Bin Laden has nothing to do with it. If islamic terrorists nuke several cities in north america (which is the hypothetical situation Rep. Tom Tancredo was responding to), then whether OBL had anything to do with it will be largely irrelevant. It would be a declaration of total war.

Total war means that everyone on the other side is considered a combatant - nobody is considered a civilian. Total war between a religion and a state would mean that in order for that state to survive, the religion must be wiped out.

Next, the suggestion that the existence of Israel is the cause of Palestinian refugeeism is ludicrous. It is stupid.

Oh and the South Africa thing is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the hypothetical situation posed to Tancredo.

Candace said...

Well, first of all, would a nuclear attack on 6 or 7 American cities not just about decimate North America (if not immediately, then within a few months)? In which case, hit that damn red button, we're all in it together.

Re: nuking Mecca. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Think Holocaust.

Btter idea: wherever it is that Bin Laden is believed to be. Much more appropriate, much more on target, might even keep the moderate Muslims on OUR side.

BUT (and it's a big but). Nuclear bombs will ultimately kill us all, whether immediately or over time. Suicide bombers, of course, could care less. But I would hope that nukes would never be used in retaliation against non-nuke attacks. It's much worse than using an elephant to kill a mosquito.

Ed said...

Well Candace, the idea is that the consequences of a nuclear attack on American cities would be so great that the initial attack never comes. A preemptive attack on Mecca would be a bad idea I agree - but the threat of retaliatory strikes (and it would not just be Mecca and Medina, they would just be the prime targets) would hopefully be so terrible an idea, that terrorists never use that option at all.

Of course, if 6 or 7 american cities do get nuked, all bets are off for everyone.

Ed said...

By the way, a "decimation" of North America would be 35-45 million dead. Anyone who thinks that such an attack would not be responded to with the deaths of more than half a billion in the middle east is dreaming.