Like nuking the Vatican for the pedophilia scandal?
While we speculate idly about the nature of the attack to come, and the inability of our homeland-security forces to stop it, very few talk about what we should do post-facto if the promised disaster actually transpires. This is a surprising lapse if one believes an understood response helps in advance to create deterrence.--Victor Davis Hanson, July 6, 2004
Is our reluctance to discuss the unmentionable because we think we can do nothing in response — as if there is no culpable nation-state, a toothless CIA can tell us little, we dare not upset fragile gains in Iraq, or that violence only spawns violence? In a world in which Hezbollah promises to help out with peddling Fahrenheit 9/11, the Spanish people are led by the nose by al Qaeda, and Americans lose their heads to cheers in Middle East Internet cafes, have we given the fatal impression that we would grunt a few times, flip the channel, and then do nothing after a repeat of September 11? [SNIP]
Thus the genius of the jihadists is that they provide psychological rewards on the cheap for millions in the Arab Street without costs, and in turn thrive on "credible deniability" of their tacit hosts. They smirk that postmodern Western liberality precludes Shermanesque collective punishment against the pre-modern. After all, a Christiane Amanpour can be at the front in 24 hours before a live 60-million-strong global audience to yell to U.S. troops on patrol "Don't step on that child!" — even as her husband advises the Kerry campaign back home. But do they also know that another 9/11 would throw such restraint out the window? [SNIP]
The key for the United States — in very quiet and deferential tones, in private, and to the albeit illegitimate leaders of these relevant countries — is to convey the message that if there should be a repeat of 9/11, the United States will hold any countries responsible who are proved to have aided or sheltered any of the guilty. Now what does that overused and near-meaningless phrase "hold responsible" really mean? A repeat of Afghanistan and Iraq in places like Iran or Syria? [SNIP]
Yes, another 9/11 would be a watershed event where the tragic choices in responding would entail only "bad" and "much worse." If it were to occur again, then we would have to realize that we had no foolproof ability to stop such mass terror. And if we were to accept that death sentence and do nothing, then we would also accept the sure end of our civilization as we know it. Compared to that scenario, discussing a bleak response right now doesn't seem so stupid. Keeping silent about it does.
Yes, a little over one year ago today, Mr. Hanson said the same thing that Tom Tancredo said, albeit far more artfully; that our options would be twofold in the wake of a WMD attack on us by Islamists. I’m willing to bet, however, that any disagreement accrued by Mr. Hanson’s op-ed was far more respectful than that dished out to Mr. Tancredo and to us “little people.”
In an email conversation with a well-known blogger, I opined that the rather shrill, illogical, strawman-filled and sometimes ad hominem responses to Tancredo and those who agreed with his *actual remarks* by normally intelligent and thoughtful men could stem from a certain mindset in which the detonation of a WMD never enters the picture; in which everything comes out all right; in which no one, nowhere, no how gets nuked (or gassed or dosed).
Actually I hope they keep that manner of thinking and have the chance to tell the rest of us—especially those of us who have had to make peace with being the agents of nuclear delivery—that they told us so.
Never in my life have I wanted so much to be wrong.
UPDATE: More from the little people; Instapun***k:
Imagine. Imagine not 2200 American dead and the wave of grief and anger that inspired. Imagine 100,000 Americans dead or horribly mangled and stricken by radiation. Islam's militant minority has openly targeted our highest cultural symbols. At what point do we fight fire with fire and seek victory over an implacable enemy? Have you really thought about the question?UPDATE: Reading this
Instead, you are icily superior about the words of one minor politician who has spoken what many think. Yet his words are a kind of safety valve for the endlessly patient supporters of the war on terror. It may enable them to go one more month, one more year of watching grinning two-faced mullahs stand on podiums accepting the praise of American politicians while they laugh up their sleeves and go back to another meeting of their cell.
But it will horrify and distance the good muslims? Maybe. It might also frighten them just a little. Is it so very unthinkable that the fence-sitting muslims of the world should begin to appreciate that there is an American volcano after all, one that will erupt in a fury every bit as implacable and much better armed than theirs if they carry their wishful thinking too far?
As Mr. Morrissey points out, Tancredo is not in the military chain of command. He is not making real strategy. But he is mentioning possibilities that could become very real on the day that 100,000 American mothers have to place flowers outside the contaminated square mile where the obliterated bodies of their children swirl in the radioactive breeze.
On his last visit to relatives in Pakistan this year, one of the London bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, boasted of wanting to die in a revenge attack over the way Muslims are treated. [SNIP]has caused me to re-think my opinion a bit but not revise it, not yet. I'll discuss tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that you can't beat me to the punch.
Mr Saleem supported his cousin’s [Tanweer's] bombing at Aldgate station which killed seven people, saying: “Whatever he has done, if he has done it, then he has done right.” He recalled how Tanweer argued with family and friends about the need for violent retaliation over US abuse of Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
(Note for future reference: had someone spelled it out this way--verbally, of course--rather than give variations of "that's stupid" over and over again, the point would have gotten across more easily.)
(Thanks to Jeff Goldstein)