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July 19, 2005

Tom Tancredo: Nuke Mecca

The responsible and acceptable thing to do is to say these remarks were at best unwise, and at worse needlessly provocative and counterproductive. And also, stupid.

So I'll say that.

But:

Look, let's be real. During our long nuclear standoff with the Russkies, we wargamed a lot of potential scenarios, including first strikes on all Soviet cities. Stuff like that.

As a blogger linked by Michelle points out, it's a touch naive to think that nowhere in the bowels of some Pentagon sub-basement have any analysts been assigned to research and speculate upon the military usefulness of taking this rather dramatic (and, frankly, terrorist) action.

Someone in the Pentagon is always researching some possible military option.

Let's put aside the question of whether Tom Tancredo is a knuckle-dragging troglodyte for mentioning this possibility. Is it necessarily a bad thing for a not-really-prominent-but-not-exactly-unknown Representative to sabre-rattle in this manner, and let the world know that there is a possibility of such an unthinkable nuclear vengeance-strike should things get much worse than they are now?

I don't know. I know the Chinese General's statement that China was ready to use nukes on America should we interfere in a Chinese reconquest of Taiwan sort of put me on edge. He says he wasn't speaking for the Chinese Army or Goverment, but the fact that a high-ranking general felt comfortable making such a statement does tend to make one a mite more cautious about military moves to defend Taiwan.

Will Tancredo's remarks have a similar sobering effect on Islamist World-Domination Fantasists? I don't know; these people are too far gone, and perhaps they'd just view the nuking of Mecca as a useful propaganda tool for uniting the Muslim world against the West. Perhaps they just think they'd rebuild Mecca on the smoldering remains of Washington, DC, should it come to that.

Tancredo's remarks were irresponsible and provocative, as the Chinese General's were, but... there is little doubt that extreme measures require, often, extreme countermeasures.

If Al Qaeda gets a nuke and blows up a US city-- well, under those sort of circumstances, I don't think it will necessarily be verboten to suggest that the next nuclear detonation on US soil results in a detonation on the Arabian Peninsula.

Terrorism, to be sure. Unthinkable, under the present circumstances. But if Al Qaeda gets two or three nukes-- well, just as under the Mutual Assured Destruction regime of stability-by-nightmare, the unthinkable becomes suddenly quite thinkable.

Predated Update: Dave From Garfield Ridge was writing about this back in 2004. His words are just as incomprensible and senseless now as they were then.

Just kidding. Good piece.


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posted by Ace at 01:51 PM

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