Monday, July 25, 2005

Confronting the unthinkable: Should nuking Mecca be on the table? 
What if a terrorist detonates a nuclear bomb within an American city? How should the United States respond in retaliation?

A congressman recently suggested that the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina should become targets.

The man is a fool.

And so are those on both sides of the isle who fell over themselves repudiating his remarks.

First of all, why is the man a fool?

Because you don't have to articulate a possible response to force potential adversaries to consider the possibility. And by articulating it, it becomes no more real a possibility than it was before.

But nuking Mecca and Medina obviously would be a terrible act of war against Saudi Arabia. And the Saudi security forces are among our most effective allies in the war against Al Qaeda. Moreover, articulating the possibility of vaporizing two Saudi cities forces the Saudi government to publically repudiate the United States -- unless the possibility is publicly repudiated by serious thinkers. Otherwise, the political knees will be cut out from under the Saudi government in its fight to hunt destroy the Al Qaeda infrastructure in its country. And the temptation of the Saudi Government to negotiate a separate peace with Al Qaeda -- and stick it to The Man in Washington -- becomes overwhelming.

All this congressman accomplished is to force the political establishment to remove a strategic option off the table when it had been an arrow in Uncle Sam's quiver before.

Similarly, those who uncritically and uncautiously repudiate the "massive retaliation" theory against the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina cause the possibility to lose its deterrence effect. It's almost as if the congressman's careless comments activated the political antibodies to protect Islamofascism from the terrible strategic option many of them fear most.

The prospect of englassing Medina or Mecca or both is nearly too terrible to contemplate. I say 'nearly' because nothing is too terrible to contemplate. And the deterrence of destruction is the most effective peace keeper in the history of mankind.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine a scenario in which the nuking of Medina and Mecca would actually make sense. Except in the case of a direct nuclear attack by Saudi Arabia itself, this course of action would violate every precept of jus in bello.

It would simply be a monstrously cruel and excessive act.

Which is exactly the secret of its deterrence.

Of course, U.S. policy planners would have to discount the possibility that certain members of the Islamic death cults would love to provoke this measure, in the interests of sparking an outright worldwide war between Islam and the West.

But I'd rather the enemy would just have to wonder. Strategic ambiguity is a beautiful thing.

A better policy: Let the word out - either publicly or through diplomatic back-channels, that any government whose WMD security is so lax that they intentionally or unintentionally leak nuclear technology or material to Al Qaeda will themselves be subject to a massive retaliation, if it is deemed that their carelessness or collusion facilitated the attack.

And yes, I would specifically include carelessness in the definition. No country should be able to say "we tried." Either they secure their WMD technology and material, or they do not.

Put the word out that a fledgling or sloppy nuclear program may result in the destruction of the entire country as we now know it, and many marginal nations on the cusp of developing said technology may regard the risk/reward ratio as excessive, and elect to discontinue their WMD programs. They will definitely have a vested interest in making security air tight.

Splash, out


Stupidity really ought to be a capital crime....
I agree Stupidity should be a crime, maybe not a capital crime, but at least a flogging.

To me the problem with the “nuke the original source point of any nuke used on us” argument would seem to be that Russia is the sloppiest, most likely to non-maliciously lose a nuke. And we can’t exactly in any seriousness (publicly, back channels or otherwise) threaten to nuke Moscow.

I would also wager that if we did retaliate with a first strike nuke against any Muslim country (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran) it would have near the same effect of turning the majority of Muslims against us.

I don’t think there are any easy answers for the situation; I for sure haven’t found any.

Rob M.
If they know you'll do it, you won't have to. Terrorists have an alarming amount of sympathy among the general Muslim populace. A healthy fear that Mecca would be bombed (no need to nuke it, bunker busters on the big black thing in the middle would do) would focus the attention of the faithful.

If their faith truly has been hijacked, they need to turn on the hijackers. This option would suck if carried out, but if the Islamic faithful beleive it is on the table, they may be reluctant to ignore Mustaffa's curious metal cases in the garage.
Jason writes: "the Saudi security forces are among our most effective allies in the war against Al Qaeda"

That's quite a sentence!

First, the Saudis are one of the PRIMARY SOURCES of islamofascism, spending billions to export it worldwide.


Second, you think we're at war with some "Al Qaeda" gang, and not an ideology shared by millions?

Also, once islamic terrorists detonate a nuclear device on a US city, all bets are off. The US response will be beyond comprehension, and the current looney "Gitmo Gulag" whining will be as relevant as the natterings of a gnat.

Jason continues: "any government whose WMD security is so lax that they intentionally or unintentionally leak nuclear technology or material to Al Qaeda will themselves be subject to a massive retaliation, if it is deemed that their carelessness or collusion facilitated the attack."

Interesting, because Saudi Arabia is exporting WMD -- in the form of fanatics who will build and deliver the payload to American cities as soon as they're able. And not through "carelessness" but systematically, and with malice.
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