July 26, 2005

Nuking Mecca

Representative Tancredo made same offhand remarks last week that got a lot of folks in a lather about the pros and cons of nuking Mecca should a nuclear weapon be set off in a major city in the US.

Hmmm..., well, here's a few disjointed thoughts.

Does anyone really think that American's are so bloodthirsty and revenge driven that we would start killing on a massive scale without a purpose? I can't comprehend this and even our closest friends and allies would not go along with it. Would you really want the whole world to be your enemy? Despite some silly pretensions to the contrary, we didn't drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki just to kill Japanese. We did it to end the war and prevent an invasion, thus probably saving Japanese lives in the long run. It's extremely hard to see how nuking Mecca is going to save any Muslim lives or encourage those remaining to think that they would then find themselves in anything other than a no holds barred fight that must result in the extinction of either Muslims or non-Muslims.

Oh, should a nuke go off here, I can comprehend some rather significant changes in the rules of engagement across the board that will result in a lot of dead Muslims and many other dead non-Muslims throughout the world. I can envision Damascus, Tehran, Cairo, Islamabad, and a whole lot of other cities being much worse for wear in rather short order. I can imagine Europe cowing in fear and virtually begging us not to retaliate for nothing better than ..., wait for it..., environmental reasons. I can imagine China gettting a little frisky all of a sudden. I can imagine Mosques shut down or abandoned in this country with something resembling Manzanar opening up to house anyone still desirous of praying to the East three times a day. I can imagine the collapse of the worldwide financial markets, the establishment of martial law, and the true end of life as we know it. My, how we'll long for the times when Joe Wilson, Karl Rove and Howard Dean where the leading newsmakers of the day.

In fact, I don't think it is neccesary to set off a nuke in New York, Chicago, L.A., or any other American, or even European city to bring most of this about. As I have argued in this space before, much the same effect can be had by setting a nuke off in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Stanley, Port-Au-Prince, Caracas, or even the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia. Why bother trying to smuggle it in to the US when you can get virtually the same result with perhaps 1% of the risk of getting caught? Now I realize getting caught may seem like a small risk for people who are willing to die, but if you do get caught you chances of actually accomplishing your mission fall dramatically.

The real question is what purpose can the US arsenal of nuclear weapons serve after the next nuclear device goes off? Alas, I am a pessimist and as such I do believe that it is ilikely that a nuclear device is going to be exploded somewhere on the earth in the next twenty years. So, again, the question is what are we going to do next.

As I see it, the US arsenal of nuclear weapons will largely serve the same two purposes it serves today. One, they will be used if we are forced to fight wars on more than two fronts simultaneously. For better or worse, the US and her allies cannot mount Iraq-sized operations in more than two theaters today, and perhaps not even that if the theaters become big enough. Mr. Den Beste has covered this ground in the past. Second, they are athe ultimate trump card. Their use up to today as a trump card has been tied mostly to MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction. But in the future, it won't necessarily be a mutual thing. It may be more along the lines of abdicate, surrender, or turn someone or something over in 48 hours or face AD, assured destruction. As it happens, I don't see this as radically different than how these assets are used today.

As the President is a renowned poker player, he understands that you can only bluff if you are willing to see it through. It is likely that someone will eventually call our bluff force us to obliterate a city. This is unfortunate, but probably inevitable. It may not happen the first or second time we make the threat, but eventually someone is going to think we are bluffing and risk it. But even in this circumstance please note that there was a point to it somewhat better than "nuke Mecca" because a few nutjobs were quite fond of it. There may someday be a reason to nuke Mecca, but bloody-minded tit-for-tat revenge isn't it.

As anyone who reads this blog knows (all twenty of you), I am definitely not sympathetic to Islamic terrorism and I'm more than a little upset with most Muslims for their apparent wilingess to tolerate the slaughter of those they consider to be infidels. Nonetheless, at some point the killing will be over and whomever is left will have to pick up the pieces and live with their sins of omission and their sins of commission. Lowering the bar on the rules of engagement isn't the same as eliminating the bar. I just hope we can keep the bar high enough that even I could still limbo under it successfully. And by doing so preserve enough of civilization to keep it going in a form we can still recognize.

Posted by Charles Austin at July 26, 2005 06:53 PM