There’s been a lot of talk lately from both left and right in response to Congressman Tom Tancredo’s remarks that the “ultimate response” to WMD attacks on multiple U.S. cities by militant Islamists would be to destroy Muslim holy sites. This isn’t an original thought; fellow Waterglass blogger Morgan has suggested it, on occasion, as have many other pundits, bloggers, and commentators. Initially, I was pretty horrified at the thought myself, but after doing some thinking and considerable reading on the subject, I’ve come around some. Jeff at Protein Wisdom has an interesting discussion and plenty of links, all of which are worth following.
How does one deter an Islamic terrorist with access to weapons of mass destruction? Not with threats to his own life; he’s willing to die if in so doing he can inflict sufficient harm on a gaggle of us “infidels.” Probably not with threats to a political entity either, for his political allegiance, like his religious faith, is to Islam and its “Caliphate.”
As I’ve said in this space many times before, the enemy we fight doesn’t fear death, injury, or imprisonment. All he fears is failure. When faced with an enemy like that, the only measures that can be taken in order to effectively defend oneself are, by their very definition, extreme. Porretto notes that during the Cold War, the Soviets were deterred because, at least in part, they didn’t want to die either. So, what to do? Jeff says it succinctly:
…it doesn?t matter to me whether or not the US actually would unleash such hell on Muslim holy sites. What matters to me is that our enemy knows that no military response is ever off the table. The US has done?and continues to do?enough good in this world that it need not constantly strive for the kind of cheap grace that comes from loudly and publicly eschewing pragmatic analysis about our military response options for the sake of placating those who have every reason to fear us.
Wouldn’t that inflame the all-too-inflammable “Arab street?” Fuck the Arab street. There’s nothing anyone in the West can do to satisfy the ever-outraged Arab street’s perpetual whining, so why bother?
Wouldn’t we be punishing the millions and millions of Muslims that love peace? Well, yes. Isn’t nuking Mecca overkill? What about the innocent casualties? Well, what about them? Imagine New York City as a smoking, unlivable hole for centuries to come. Or L.A. Or Boston. Or all three, with Philadelphia thrown in for good measure. Imagine hundreds of thousands of American lives lost, and millions more maimed and made gravely ill from nuclear fallout. What response to that would be proper? How much restraint is required in the face of thousands and thousands of your own countrymen murdered by Islamic militants?
Ultimately, I might be convinced otherwise. Discuss, and keep it civil.