Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Tancredo Option

Hugh Hewitt has issued a challenge concerning Tom Tancredo’s remarks about bombing Mecca:
     I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger.
Mr. Hewitt, I agree with you. To assign all Muslims the blame for the actions of the Great Jihad is both repugnant and counterproductive. The extent of general Muslim support for the Islamofascists has not been established, since the “moderate Muslim” has proven so elusive, and has yet to condemn unequivocally the actions of his fanatical co-religionists. Until such support is demonstrated, it ill serves our cause to utter such inflammatory rhetoric.

However, you also say this:
     Anyone defending Tancredo's remarks has got to make a case for why such a bombing would be effective.
I am not defending Congressman Tancredo. However, the destruction of Mecca might be strategically quite effective. Since a devout Muslim believes that no action occurs that is not willed by Allah, and Mecca is Allah’s most sacred site on Earth, the act of destroying it might well deconstruct the basis of fanatic Islam: either Allah sanctioned the destruction of his holiest shrine, or Allah is not in charge. Either way, the Great Jihad would deflate.

But for the West to do so would destroy its own collective soul. Not doing such things is what distinguishes us from them.

Culturally and ideologically, fanatical Islam still resides in the 7th century. The proper 7th-century response would be for us to destroy Mecca and Medina, so that not one stone be left standing upon another, and then sow the ruins with salt.

No matter how appealing the idea is to the atavistic and rageful warrior deep within us, it must not be acted on. We are 21st-century Western Civilization, and we do not do such things. It’s as simple as that.


Annoy Mouse said...

Just some thoughts I had on this;

Nuke the Rock!
As much as I like the symmetry of, “you blow up the world trade center, our symbol of wealth, we will blow up the asteroid, your symbol of God”, I think that it would doom our efforts to turn Islam in on itself.

A Scary Thought
GWB listens to Tancredo and is thoroughly convinced that we should plop a tactical nuke onto the rock. Not much later, world press frets about the toxic plume that is worse than the Chernobyl accident.

Islam responds, “scientists around the world have tracked the toxic plume through the air currents. It is agreed. The rock has been vaporized. Its dust is coating every inch of the earth. Now Islam is truly spread around the world”. Infidel, "Well, I guess you have no reason the face Mecca anymore.” Islam responds, “You are right. Now we just face the United States, our common enemy.”

Perhaps the joke should be –

Nuke Mecca, it would be a great way to spread Islam.

Jude the Obscure said...

I am no philosopher, but I can't see the point in worrying about the loss of a collective consciousness if ultimately, due to inaction, there will be no collective consciousness to worry about.
Surely it has been due to people who didn't worry about such abstractions that we, in the 21st century, have the luxury of discussing their existence?
Why would a collective consciousness disappear if a rock was destroyed? Is it that we would be aghast at destroying a religious symbol? Would such destruction not be beneficial to the people who are held in thrall to it and also beneficial to the people who may die in the name of the religion which worships said rock? In the progress to collective consciousness has it not been necessary to destroy many things which might impede the progress to collective consciousness?

Baron Bodissey said...

I'll give you an analogy to show why it matters.

Vietnam didn't matter -- it was a little country, far away, and when we left, only Asians suffered and died. America was able to continue as before, and with less strife.

But leaving Vietnam damaged us collectively. It was billed today, upon the death of General Westmoreland, as "the only war the US ever lost". That matters. As a collective paradigm it has hobbled our national psyche for more than a generation, and made acting in the national interest quite difficult.

Just think how much worse nuking Mecca would be for us. We would never regard ourselves in the same light, and our national principles could no longer be held up before the world as an ideal.

No thanks.

Annoy Mouse said...

I have been very grateful to Tancredos no BS approach to boarder security. I am afraid though that he has cashiered any credibility that he has had with this tangent. Such a shame.

Annoy Mouse said...

"Border" security. This misspelling is contagious.

sammy small said...

Remember that our collective consciousness would already be hobbled after the nuclear destruction of D.C., NYC, or other city. I don't think it would be a good time for future based reflections.

Consider the following scenario: Radical Islamics gain access to a handful of suitcase or small tactical nuclear weapons from one of several sources. One is positioned in Israel while the remaining are places around the U.S. in several cities.

On the appropriate day, Israel is pounded with a massive nuclear detonation. It is unclear whether Israel can respond, but even if they can, there is little left to salvage.

The U.S. is warned not to interfere and not to threaten Arab/Muslim countries or else U.S. cities will fall one by one as necessary.

What do you do now and how would collective consciousness play into those options?

Baron Bodissey said...

Sammy (and everybody else) -- I am not ruling out the destruction of Mecca in all circumstances. I am ruling it out in the event of an attack on us by any country other than Saudi Arabia.

If Ireland were to nuke London in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I would not favor destroying Rome.

If it ever becomes clear -- God forbid -- that all of Islam, the entire Ummah, is at war with us, then destroying Mecca makes sense.

But the jury is still out on that one. However, I am not as confident as GWB, Tony Blair, and others, that most Muslims do not support the Great Jihad. We have no evidence yet to support that statement.

right around here said...

All Japanese were not for going to war against the United States in the 40's. Two nukes later, however, all Japanese were for ending the war.

Suddenly the "madness of crowds," changed. "Extraordinary popular delusions" were forgotten and a culture became focused on survival. ALL Japanese began to think that being a Kamikazi was not such a great idea.

I happen to believe that one nuke on Mecca, advertised in advance with plenty of time for people to evacuate then broadcast live to all the world would send a message the Islamonuts would not soon forget.

Perhaps then the moderate Muslims that no one can seem to find, would finally find their silent voice and speak with the voice of authority.

Baron Bodissey said...

But all Japanese were subjects of the same emperor, and their religion was not the issue, their nationality was.

As I said, when the Saudis attack us, we fight back. And "attack" may include forms of aggression besides military ones.

When the Ummah becomes a single political entity, then Mecca is a fair target in a response against "Islam".

It may happen someday. But we shouldn't talk about it until it becomes absolutely necessary. Speak softly...

El Jefe Maximo said...

I agree with you about losing our collective soul, if we ever did something so monstrous as to nuke Mecca in response to being nuked.


If nukes are indeed used on us, I think all bets as to our response are off. Obviously, the politicans will be under tremendous pressure to do something harsh, and if it is not harsh enough, they will be replaced in short order by those favoring harsher measures. Maybe Mecca wouldn't get nuked -- but someplace would. Probably a lot of someplaces.

Domestically, the results would be no less horrifying. If we were nuked on a Tuesday, I think there'd be riots, chaos, lynchings -- the authorities would have to open internment camps just to recover public order.

I think that, as a civilization, we are making a critical mistake in not preparing public opinion for the possibility that a city getting nuked is a possibility. The politicans need to do this in some way, if only so that our response, when this happens, is not so violent and so much a product of mass panic that we indeed lose our souls, not to mention our liberty.

Pastorius said...

Ed Morrisey is on Hewitt's side on this. I am not. Honestly, as much as I respect those guys usually, I think they aren't being serious on this issue. Here's my thoughts:



Baron Bodissey said...

Well, Jefe, this refusal to own up to the real possibilities is of a piece with the general denial, the head-in-the-sand mentality that 9/11 only temporarily interrupted. As much as I respect President Bush, he participates in the process to some extent, issuing bland bromides when he should tell us the harsh truth.

I've said before that if we have another attack as bad as or worse than the last one, all bets are off. The public mood could flip in a heartbeat, and if mobs started stringing Arabs up from lampposts, the PC-loving authorities couldn't do a damned thing about it. I pray to God that it never comes to that.

Baron Bodissey said...

Pastorius, I read your post on this at CUANAS. If you run through the comments above, you can see where the ebb and flow of the argument has led.

My opinion about the action (don't do it) is contingent on current circumstances, and I think talking about it at this stage of our war is not a good idea. If we get to the point when we have to do such a horrible thing, we'll know it, and we can discuss it then.

We can pave over any of the countries in the Muslim Middle East, if we want, but we don't have to say so. Some things are better left unsaid.

I prefer more indefinite statements, say the Rummy-like "All options are on the table."

El Jefe Maximo said...

Baron, completely agree with you about the refusal to "own up" to the horrible future possibilities, indeed probabilities, being of a piece with the "general denial" that 9/11 only briefly interrupted.

Also agree with your comments about the President not being helpful on this point. I think that President Bush, after 9/11 made a critical mistake in not engaging the public more in the war on terror: through steps like conscription, or even somewhat pointless things like energy conservation, scrap drives, or neighborhood watches. In consequence, the public has no "ownership" of the war, so to speak, much less engagement in it. The war is elsewhere, and people are thus enabled to continue residing in the fool's paradise most of us have inhabited since the Berlin Wall fell.

hank_F_M said...


But for the West to do so would destroy its own collective soul. Not doing such things is what distinguishes us from them.

I agree completely.


The official US policy for decades is that the response to a nuclear attack will be a massive retailation in kind against the perpetrators, details not announced in advance.

Anyone with at least a two digit IQ realizes this will happen. Any rational person will not use nuclear weapons against the US. Bin Laden, however, if had them, would think this a good reason to use them in the hope he could leat the islamic anger. Tancredo’s comments are an invitation to people like bin Laden.

El Jefe Maximo said...

"Any rational person will not use nuclear weapons against the US."

I beg to disagree with Hank f m, at least a little bit. I suppose we're quibbling about the meaning of rational. Bin Laden and those like him have a vested interest in disorder, and essentially in shaking up the present international order. For that matter, so do some of the state players in the present international order; as well as political factions within them

Think of the international system in 1914. All the "rational" actors -- established players, lost, with the exception of the United States. The only other winners were the "irrational" -- South Slav nationalists; extreme left wing cranks; extreme right wing cranks; all of whom were safely marginalized in 1914, much as Al Qaeda and similar groups are today.

Just as in 1914, the crazies have an interest in shaking up the international game. I know of no better way to do this than with nukes. It almost doesn't matter where it's used -- the result would be cataclysm and another big shake up like in the 20th Century, and this is exactly what cranks like Osama Bin Laden want.

Baron Bodissey said...

Jefe -- You're right about al Qaeda and irrationality. A rational group would never attempt the things they're doing.

But the thing about a deterrent -- if it deters, fine. If it doesn't, then we have to be prepared to use what was was supposed to deter. That will end the argument, rational or not.

miriam sawyer said...

I believe you're too late. The Wahabis attacked Mecca, destroying monuments and desecrating graves some time in the early 20th century. They don't like monuments. Or anything else.

Pastorius said...

Baron, having read more of the comments now, I see that you and I are in agreement. I do not think that now is the time to be discussing nuking Mecca. I don't think it is the time to nuke Mecca.

However, I think that if Saudi Arabia were to fund a nuclear attack on multiple American cities that we should retaliate in kind. And, I believe that somehow the United States should make that clear to them in advance.

In fact, I think the Bush Administration probably already has. And, I think that if we can believe Bush's stated policy already, he has probably gone so far as to warn them that they had better be aware of what terrorists are doing inside their country, because they will also be held accountable for what they should have known about.

When it comes to the possibility of terrorists using nuclear weapons, we can't afford to not be very explicit in our communications with those countries who pose as friends, but seem to act as enemies.

I have to express my frustration, and my disappointment with Ed Morrisey and Hugh Hewitt on this issue. Yes, I agree with them that Tancredo should have kept his mouth shut, but I believe they are almost going to the opposite extreme in their criticism of him.

For God's sake, Morrisey proposed that if we were to be hit with nuclear weapons in multiple U.S. cities, our repsonse should be tactical hits against the Iranian and Syrian airforce, the Iranian nuclear power plants, and Saudi holdings within the U.S.

Boy, that would really show them, huh? All that Bin Laden said about the West being so weak that we lack the will to fight would be proven true.


Redneck Texan said...

How exactly should we respond to a coordinated Nuclear attack on our major cities by a non-state attacker?

We gonna overthrow the Taliban again?

Just throw our hands up and beg them to stop?

At that point the survival of our civilization will be threatened and the only option left on the table will be the "No Muslims, No Terrorism" one.

There is a certain point where "our national principles that could no longer be held up before the world as an ideal" will be irrelevant in our decision.

This is going to be a pivotal century in human history Baron. The ease at which civilizations can inflect major damage on opposing cultures is unprecedented, the tools of destruction will inevitably fall into the hands of those willing to use them indiscriminately. The only constant will be humans desire to destroy. Being the most self-righteous culture wont prevent us from being vanquished if we fail to exceed our enemy's level of violence.

Pofarmer said...

"Just think how much worse nuking Mecca would be for us. We would never regard ourselves in the same light, and our national principles could no longer be held up before the world as an ideal"

I just gotta disagree here. We nuked Japan and ????. It would just be one more strike. And it would be in retaliation. For most Americans, Mecca means nothing. Unlike most Muslims.

If there is a strike, and there is general disorder, and round ups, and lynchings, and internments, so what?? The country will survive that way. At some point we'll have to prove we're WORTHY of survival. Not becuase we're the most sensitive, or the most nuanced, but because we're the meanest SOB on the block. The terrorrists still see the U.S. public as our soft underbelly, and they're right. What would it take for them to see that that's not right? Probably a bunch of out of control gun toting rednecks stringing up their fellow Mohamedians on the news. I think that would get the picture across pretty well. If the moderate Muslims don't wake up, they'll bring it on themselves. And the vast majority of America will make no apologies. For those of you to soft to understand the truth, I'm sorry.

hank_F_M said...


You are right about rational.

Rational does not mean good. It means following the laws of logic from a priori assumptions which may be good, bad, or indifferant.

Bin Laden's are sick, but he follows their logic.

linearthinker said...

Much to address in this post--

Tancredo Option: Probably not a wise statement, now or anytime soon. But, probably no great harm in saying it, since most of us at one time or another have been thinking it. There may be some benefit in getting the attention of the "moderate Muslims", if in fact they exist. If they don't exist, then potential harm by expressing the option is diminished (see below). I disagree with the actual objective action, not the sentiment. I would hope we have more effective and perhaps more selective targeting options.

Hugh Hewitt: "I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam." Well, Hugh, that's clearly your opinion. I submit that the U.S. is in a war with Islamofascism, fundamentalist wahabists, the Taliban, the Islamic Jihaddis, ansar el Islam, etc., etc. These are not Lutherans from North Dakota. I guess we don't agree.

Baron Bodissey on "Moderate Muslims": "The extent of general Muslim support for the Islamofascists has not been established, since the “moderate Muslim” has proven so elusive, and has yet to condemn unequivocally the actions of his fanatical co-religionists."

Seems the "moderate Muslims" haven't manifested themselves as an effective deterrent to the radicals who act in the name of their shared religion. I've waited with patience and hope for four years for such a moderate and effective response. Aside from what seems a vanishingly small group of individuals who've spoken sanely against Islamofacism, I've heard nothing that convinces me that there is, or will be, an effective and collective voice of Muslim moderation. I suspect reasons are numerous, including threats and intimidation within the Muslim communities, as well as preaching and fatwas by their clerics, and what seems to a non-scholar of the Koran to be a religion that's extremely malleable in the interpretation of their holy book. Whatever the reasons, it's in their own interest to be identified and speak out. In absence of this, I'm left to conclude there's no help from their quarter. What I see when I seek the "moderate Muslim" are hoards of people who at best are indifferent to the attrocities committed in their name, and who, more likely than not, are supportive of those attrocities. Screw 'em.

Collective Soul: Collective soul is a fine concept to discuss with brandy and cigars before the attacks occur. After the attacks there won't be time or audience for thoughtful digressions on collective soul.

After the attacks: An effective package of off-the-shelf countermeasures that can be tailored and tuned to fit the circumstances would be needed. I hope it is severe, selective, and kept secret. I don't presume to tell the President or his team what should be done. I voted for him and support him because I trust he and his advisers know what to do. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeldt, Rove and Rice. A team to be reckoned with. I hope.

Baron Bodissey said...

Redneck and others -- linearthinker sums up my position pretty well. I've made a new post to address all this. Here's the gist:

My main objection is to the idea that we would destroy Mecca because some subset of Islam attacked us. Until we know for certain that all of Islam is lined up against us, that is morally indefensible. And, since one of the features of this war is our enemy’s total lack of what we consider morality, it is important that we always act morally.

Pofarmer said...

Unfortunatly Baron, and I'm not tryin to be too combative here, but being morally superior to your adversary in no way equates to victory over that adversary. Just ask the guys who fought in the Pacific in WWII. At this point we can afford the Moral superiority argument. At some point, we may not. The 1.5 billion Muslim statement is nearly irrelevant, if for no other reason than that they're fractured and all over the globe, and not well armed. All the better to seal up the borders and deal with em on step at a time, if it comes to that. The emperor made all Japanese our enemies, and that was a religious war in the Japanese eyes. Hitler made all Germans and anyone who sided with them our enemies. OBL and his ragtag band may yet make all Muslims our enemies.

Baron Bodissey said...

Pofarmer -- The problem is that Islam is not a single polity, like Japan was. It may yet become one (and will, if Bin laden has his way), but it isn't yet the New Caliphate.

And behaving morally is important. We were brutal in the Pacific in WWII, but we behaved more morally than the Japanese. It helped the American fighting spirit for us to be more moral, and it contributed to our victory.

If we don't engage in a very careful moral calculus in this war, we will lose allies abroad and support at home, and thus jeopardize our victory. That's why it's important.

bordergal said...

Lose our collective soul over bombing a ROCK? Sorry, but if a nuclear weapon goes off on US soil, my last worry is going to be about the "collective soul" of an inanimate object.

I'm going to be doing everything in my power to ensure it doesn't happen again, with the least loss of life possible.

Tancredo was right to bring up the possibilty. We need to decide what our actions will be BEFORE rather then AFTER such an event.

Dan tdaxp said...

bin Laden acts like he understands nuclear deterence. And in a situation where we knew he had a weapon, nuclear compellance might be our only option

Gorkadinsky said...

What? We should wait to retaliate UNTIL the enemy nukes us first? Well here’s the bad news -- We've ALREADY been "nuked" -- The Saudi's 9/11 attack generated at least as much heat, destruction and deaths as a small nuclear device. OK, given that we've already been "nuked." – what are we going to do about it? Will our response to that attack (or well-anticipated future attacks) must depend upon the chemical and physical properties of the WMDs our enem(ies) kill us with? Learn from WWII. It was won by forceful – sometimes even brutal -- retaliation.(with subsequent “apology for any inconvenience caused”).

Conservative Swede said...

Baron B wrote:

But for the West to do so would destroy its own collective soul. Not doing such things is what distinguishes us from them.

History disagrees with you here, Bodissey. This is the very same thing as how we brought down the imperial Japan's supremacist religion. Nothing more nothing less.

So apparently this is not something that distinguishes us from them, thank God!

Conservative Swede said...

Baron B:
The problem is that Islam is not a single polity, like Japan was.

Westerners live under the delusion that Islam is not organized. We apply our etno-centric concepts upon their world, since we do not understand better. And according to that Islam is scattered and decentralized since there is no political hierarchy. In a superficial (Western etno-centric) comparison between Catholicism and Islam, Catholicism is strictly hierarchical while Islam is decentralized. But this is a delusion typical of Westerners since they are so utterly secular, failing to see the religious realities of things. Islam is far more centralized than Catholicism, and the command comes directly the highest level: Allah. He speaks very forcefully and very clearly to his adherents. While the voice of the Christian God is a very faint and unclear one. The political hierarchy of the Catholic Church is just a way to compensate for the lack of real spiritual hierarchy. It's in fact a sign of weakness and a fundamental lack of centralism.

Same when Westerners asses geopolitical affairs. Coloured blobs on large sheets of paper, called maps, is the highest order reality to us. The importance of concepts like the Ummah does not quite enter our minds. This is why most Westerners think that the fault in the Muslim world is military dictators such as Musharraf, Reza Palavi or Atatürk, and favour removal of them and their likes (in favour of a popular revolution, you know what I mean). Also, the way Westerners are mesmerized by the coloured blobs on maps, makes them quick to believe the hoax about how there is a special people called Palestinians . This is easily swallowed by Westerners since their is a special coloured blob in the map corresponding to that.

Islam is just as strongly tied together as Japan ever was. In imperial Japan all were subjects of the same emperor, who was also the son of the Sun Goddess. In Islam all are subjects of Allah, the creator and owner of the world. A spiritual hierarchy is much stronger than a political one, and Japan used to have the spiritual one too.

Allah is very real. Religion is very real (not in the West no, but in the rest of the world).

When the Ummah becomes a single political entity, then Mecca is a fair target in a response against "Islam".

Seriously Bodissey, you will have to explain to me why. Because I surely cannot see how that is so.

Fair to whom? The Muslims? So if the Muslims are suddenly subjugated by a a single Caliph then it's OK to destroy their Mecca, and otherwise not? This just doesn't make sense to me.

It looks like me like just another of those arbitrary rules that Westerners make up for themselves, tying our own hands behind our backs, for no other apparent reason than a (rather superficial) feel-good factor.

You speak as if you never heard of stealth Jihad and how the Jihadists wage guerrilla (4GW) war, and how the are winning the whole fight in this way. They will never line up on the battlefields dressed in uniform, so that Westerners will be able to identify it as a fair target. They will continue with stealth and 4GW, and they are winning. Don't you want us to turn this around?

I'm not suggesting that you should speak in favour of destroying Mecca as of today, but to make up this rule of how Mecca cannot be destroyed until there is a Caliphate is unrealistic. Your way of categorically writing off this as ever becoming necessary is irresponsible.

Baron Bodissey said...

Swede, this is a very old post. You need to read my other writings on this and similar topics.

I have said that the day may come when the remnants of Western Civilization will find it necessary to raze Mecca and sow the rubble with salt.

But not yet.

Conservative Swede said...

Baron B,

Indeed it's three years old. It's embarrassing that I didn't check the date. It bubbled up to the surface since someone just commented.

Still I think my answer was quite a good one :-) And yes, I was surprised at what you wrote, but I figured you had had a relapse or something.

I have said that the day may come when the remnants of Western Civilization will find it necessary to raze Mecca and sow the rubble with salt.

Yes indeed you have. A comment which makes you the winner of this argument. Congratulations!