Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bomb Mecca? How About: Vote Out Tancredo

A week ago, U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO) was asked in an interview what he thought should be the U.S. response if terrorists used a nuclear weapon against us. He responded:

''Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites." When the host asked him if he meant ''bombing Mecca," he said, ''Yeah."

Not surprisingly, such remarks have received wide-spread condemnation and calls for Tancredo to apologize or face discipline from the House of Representatives. While the House has not acted on this matter, it is rather surprising that this has become and issue. After all, bombing Mecca, even in the wake of a nuclear terrorist attack, would be an act of extreme brutality and unjustifiable vengeance.

And yet, Tancredo defends his remarks in today’s Denver Post, saying that we absolutely must leave all options on the table and a threat to hit Islamic holy sites may be what’s needed to persuade moderate Muslims to start fighting terrorism with greater intensity. Tancredo says:

Until "mainstream" Islam can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start repudiating and purging people like [terrorist apologist] Ali and [terrorist supporter] Hajjar from its ranks who do, this war will continue.

I agree completely that moderate Muslims need to do be more vocal and forceful in condemning the Islamic fascists in their ranks. But Tancredo’s suggestion that the threat of brutal force will motivate moderate Muslims to act in our interest, is small-minded. Bombing Mecca or Medina simply cannot be an option just like, during the height of IRA terrorism, bombing Rome was never considered a viable option, despite the fact that many Catholics around the world tacitly or directly supported the IRA.

Tancredo is right that moderate Muslims need to be more forcibly on our side. But intimidation is the worst way to win allies and his suggestion that we threaten to his Islamic holy sites is obscene. While we at TYL never support disciplining a politician for their words (only their actions), we do believe the people in Tancredo’s district should seriously consider throwing him out in 2006. We need politicians of real vision—Tancredo doesn’t appear to come close.

47 Comments:

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Tancredo seems to think that he is the target of criticism for saying something "offensive". It is not only offensive but just plain stupid as well.

Is it possible that such threats of retribution could act as a deterrent to terrorists? No. This is exactly the type of response the terrorists would hope for, because it would immediately turn every Muslim in the world against the U.S. Inciting a holy war with all Muslims against the United States would fulfill one of the terrorists' biggest goals, because this is a war they believe they are destined by God to win.

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger Joe Weedon said...

A clear distinction needs to be made between going after those Islamic (or other) terrorist organizations that attack our country or any innocent civilians and attacking the symbols of the Islamic people. We cannot back down in the face of terror and we must demonstrate a resolve to hunt terrorist down where ever they are. However, that does not give the US or anyone the right to attack Holy sites in retaliation.

I strongly support Alan's comments on this issue.

 
At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Tennessee Republican said...

I support Cong. Tancredo.

Most of those who attack him are the very same people who do not support measures that would truly secure this nation's borders thereby helping to keep terrorists and weapons of mass detruction out of this countr.

Most of those who attack him are the very same people who oppose agressive deportation of illegal aliens. Among the 9/11 hijackers, were at least three (3) illegal aliens who had overstayed their visas. They should have been deported before having the chance to murder Americans.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

This post of Alan’s opens a big can of worms for us doesn’t it??? And to all of you I say this and I’m sorry… One thing is for certain… When the terrorist hide and work their evils out of these Islamic holy sites … That makes them open for attack-- period… With this said-- As far as the WMD goes… You can bet your last dollar that there are plans on plans as to how we would react if WMD is ever used on us, on our soil or abroad… We know that action- not peace signs will be our reply too. Who gets our wrath and with what and how much will depend on the many facts at hand at the time… You can also bet that somewhere in all of those plans is NUKES and either small too many of them being used are also on the table. The man was right. War is not a pretty thing. You and I can only pray that this never happens.

People will die in mass numbers regardless. Remember… If someone nukes us or ANY of our friends over seas... ALL GLOVES WILL BE OFF… And I mean REALLY OFF and a lot of people will most certainly die for it… This is what I call true all out war and as of yet we have not been forced to go there yet. And again I use the word YET. In god I truly do pray, so very hard, we never- ever see such a day…… And so should you.

Sometime back I put together a short video on this very subject and it is titled: “AXIS”. (Sorry dial up will not work for this clip- only DSL/Cable will work in a timely manner.) Thanks for putting up with me, Alan and Joe…
AubreyJ………………………

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Obviously if a nuclear weapon is used against us, all gloves would be off. I would expect nothing less than a major reaction. But that reaction would need to target the threats against us and not be an indiscrimate act of vengeance.

This is not just a moral issue. From a military perspective, there is nothing to be gained from hitting what amounts to civilian targets. Obviously, if religious sites are being used by terrorists as bases, we should have the right to strike. But just bombing Mecca in an act of vengeance gains us nothing.

If there was a nuclear attack, we would absolutely have to keep our heads about us. Retaliation would need to be focused, not indiscriminate.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

I too agree, Alan...
I just think there was a lot of ‘cut and paste’ involved in that article from the Boston Globe... (Not by you… by them.)

 
At 5:18 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Bomb Mecca...??Bomb MECCA...??? surely I didn't hear right. Does he want EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM IN THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD as a sworn enemy FOREVER...???

 
At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tancredo has my support for president his message is music to my ears!

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger Peter said...

These days, it's almost impossible to find any middle-ground between the two main parties. What ever happen to common sense?

 
At 8:48 PM, Anonymous KenH said...

I support Congressman Tancredo's remarks. I don't think the American people are going to just sit around and do nothing if half a dozen nuclear weapons go off in major cities around the U.S. and kill hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens. The threat of a nuclear response kept the old Soviet Union at bay for over forty years. Since the Islamofascists care nothing for their bodily well-being(or that of other people), maybe the only way to keep them from causing a nuclear holocaust in the United States is to threaten something they claim to care about - their Islamic holy sites - and hope and pray that we never have to bomb their holy sites into rubble in retaliation for such an attack.

 
At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Khalil said...

Alan, if you believe that moderate Muslims are not vocal enough, then you just aren't listening. Secondly, it is not just your cause. It is ours as well. There are millions of Muslim Americans as well as the 1 1/2 billion around the world who have suffered at the hands of extremists. Maybe your comments are indicative to the exclusion that we frequently face in the conversation regarding how to fight terrorism. Getting us more on the ground floor rather than solely on the directive end of the thought process might get us all somewhere a little faster.

 
At 11:19 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Khalil,

I would completely agree that this is not just one nation's or one religion's or one people's cause. And I know that moderate Muslims do not support and are in no way complicit in what the terrorists are doing in the name of Islam.

When I say moderate Muslims need to be more vocal, I mean moderate Muslims need to be heard more. Moderates of all ilk have a hard time being heard. Our messages tend to not grab headlines. Thus we moderates must work harder and repeat ourselves more before anyone starts listening.

I appologize if my comments sounded exclusionary. My hope is just the opposite. That the effort can become more inclusive.

 
At 7:02 AM, Blogger Ted Carmichael said...

kenh said: The threat of a nuclear response kept the old Soviet Union at bay for over forty years.

That may very well be true. But the situation today is decidedly different. The US and the former USSR were basically equally matched. Invasion wasn't an option. We weren't in a position of superior force, and the threat of nuclear retaliation was the only threat possible.

One thing that 9/11 showed us is that a nuclear response is no longer a viable response, at least for the countries in the Middle East, and most others of the world. In the days after the towers fell, when asked, Powell and others said "nothing is off the table." But that wasn't really the case. When we have other options available, our own morality will dictate that we chose those options.

quote: I don't think the American people are going to just sit around and do nothing if half a dozen nuclear weapons go off in major cities around the U.S. and kill hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens.

Ridiculous ... it's simply not gonna happen. Thank God Bush has stopped talking about the 'star wars' missile system so we can focus on the real threats rather than the imaginary ones.

quote: Since the Islamofascists care nothing for their bodily well-being(or that of other people), maybe the only way to keep them from causing a nuclear holocaust in the United States is to threaten something they claim to care about...

You're absolutely right about one thing ... many of the extremists don't care about themselves or the lives of innocents. But placing a reciprocal threat on the holiest of Muslim sites does nothing to deter such people. They believe God will protect those places, and if He doesn't, then there will be a legion of additional terrorists hell-bent on revenge.

The key question here is, why don't they care about themselves or the innocent? It needs to be asked more; the underlying causes of such dogmatic hatred need to be discovered and addressed.

I've said before that one of the root causes is a pervasive lack of opportunity, but that is clearly not the whole answer. Other parts of the world have suffered worse poverty without striking out at the West. There is something fundamentally different in the Middle East. Islam may play a part: it is almost certainly a tool rather than a root cause, but it is definitely in the mix.

The most likely cause of this unique dynamic is oil. Oil revenues artificially support political and economic systems that would otherwise not survive. For example, Egypt has three times the population of Saudi Arabia, yet their GDP's are approximately the same. Egypt made peace with Israel and the West decades ago, and they are lurching towards greater freedom and economic reform much faster than the oil-rich countries are.

Oil is also the reason we are so actively engaged in the Middle East, and our track record is not good. We helped overthrow the only democracy in the region back in '53, supplanting the popular socialist government of Iran with a fascist one. The repercussions from that effort still haunt us today, and are compounded by many other costly mistakes.

We can't take oil out of the mix, of course, or our dependence on it. But we need to ask better questions and find more intelligent ways of dealing with this troubled region. Changing the mindset of the suicide bombers and all who support their causes will take creativity, patience, and the will not to just bomb the hell out of innocent people.

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

As I said on my own blog I hate to line up with the nuts, but on this one I don't have a problem with placing an implied threat against Mecca on the table. I'm not calling for a Presidential finding on it, just saying that it is not a bad idea to remind people that we are a nuclear power, and a power with quite a history of ruthlessness in times of crisis.

I am confident that the people of Hiroshima were not all supporters of Tojo. Certainly the many innocent children who were incinerated were not at fault. Likewise the children of Berlin, many other cities we effectively obliterated.

And, as others have pointed out, we stood ready to exterminate virtually all life in the old USSR for a good forty years. Deterrence is a nasty thing. So is war.

It is absurd to pretend that threats like this can be relied on to work against Al Qaeda. However, it is equally absurd to pretend that they could not work against Pakistan. Pakistan is not doing all it can in this war, it is doing all that Musharraf finds politically expedient. Ditto Saudi. Ditto Syria. Should a threat to vaporize Mecca be seen as a serious threat by these governments, the equation of expediency might change very significantly. IT might focus their minds a bit and stiffen their spines.

One other point: Al Qaeda succeeds not because of hopelessness in the Arab world, but because of hope. It has always been thus: revolutions come from rising expectations. Qaeda feels it succeeded in pushing the Soviets out of Afghanistan and the Americans out of Somalia. It would be more helpful than harmful for the US to convince the Muslim world that we will do all we need to do to defeat radical Islam, and that radical Islam has no chance of succeeding.

 
At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we all have to be fearful of is people like bin laden and tom C!

Both have a career becuase of each others policies and actions. Those who support tom C, are similar to the foot soilders of bin laden, in that they remind people to hate the west even more and join bin laden's so called jihad.

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

I am really quite disgusted that people here are acting as Tancredo appologists. You don't respond to an extemist threat by attacking the mainstream.

What would be the logic behind bombing mecca? The terrorists bombed us. The terrorists hold mecca sacred. We must therefore bomb mecca.

Sorry, there is a flaw in that logic since Mecca is held dear by every muslim on the planet, the majority of which have no intention of becoming terrorists. What kind of mafia tactics are we contemplating here? They hit us, so we hit them, their families, their holy places, and anyone else who shares their faith. Bombing the Vatican to spite the IRA was a perfect example.

Besides, what would bombing mecca achieve? Do we really, for one millisecond, belive that the destruction of Islam's most holy site would result in less terrorists?

Our country has maintained all along that we're fighting terrorists, not Islam. Reversing that decision would make us terrorists ourselves. We're a democracy with a respect for human life. We don't attack entire populations because of the sins of a few of its members.

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Michael,

We were at war with Japan. A nation-vs-nation war. We are not at war with Saudi Arabia, and yet you want us to threaten to nuke a Saudi city?

You think because Pakistan has not cooperated enough with us, we have the right to threaten to obliterate the people of Mecca?

You think by destroying Islam's holiest site it will somehow crush al Qaeda's will? Would it crush your will if they blew up Washington, DC? Or would it make you want to fight harder? Can you even envision what the world would be like if we nuked Mecca?

I'm sorry. I'm aghast at the number of people who seem to think this is anything more than a terrible idea. A deterrent only works if it's a reasonable option. Nuking Mecca is not a reasonable option. It's not a moral option. It's not a militarily strategic option. It's a darkly angry option that cares not if an entire populace is killed and an entire religion punished--so long as someone pays.

The onyl justifiable reason to bomb Mecca is if we were at war with Saudi Arabia and if they had military targets stationed there. Bombing Mecca for any other reason would be wrong in just about every way imaginable.

 
At 11:47 AM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Alan:
Obviously I am uncomfortable being on this side of this issue. Everyone I like is on the other side.

That having been said, I think the a threat against Mecca is no more morally unacceptable than our longstanding threat to, in effect, obliterate human civilization rather than submit to communism. Nor, I would argue, is it more morally questionable than annihilating Nagasaki, a Japanese town of no military significance that was actually a center of Japanese Christianity, because we thought it would hasten the end of a war whose outcome was clear.

Reasonable people can argue that both instances (Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Cold War) were morally reprehensible. But I don't see why a threat against a largely symbolic target with a population of 360,000 or so, is on a different moral plane than a threat to end human civilization as we know it, or morally inferior than an unheralded attack using an unknown super weapon.

Awful? Of course. Fundamentally different? I don't personally see why.

What I know is this: Syria continues overt aid to terrorists, so does Iran in a diferent direction, and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are both allowing various terrorists to use their territory, and deliberately fostering the ideology off terror. Each of these four countries can do a great deal more to deal with this threat. A very great deal more.

Let me posit this thought experiment. It's August 10. We learn that Qaeda has acquired three nukes either from the former USSR, or from North Korea. We know that these nukes are making their way into the US, and that Qaeda plans to set them off in American cities.

We tighten the borders, we threaten North Korea and yell at the Russians. The first bomb goes off and kills half a million New Yorkers. Now what?

Do we threaten to retaliate against every possible terrorist supporting country? Blow up Damascus, Tehran, Riyadh, and Islamabad and kill millions?

Does anyone honestly imagine that if NYC is turned into a big smoking crater that the US Government won't retaliate? If so, against whom? And under those circumstances, is cutting the heart out of a religion somehow worse than annihilating millions who are no more directly guiulty than the 360,000 in Mecca?

If an Al Qaeda nuke goes off, American nukes will fly. Under those horrific circumstances I would argue that Mecca is the least immoral of possible targets.

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

I’m not going to say anything else on this post but I would ask everyone to read this… Somehow I believe it is relevant to this topic...
DEBKAfile: Al Qaeda now threatens Rome
AubreyJ…………
(This war is fixing to get real messy my friends- I’m afraid here at home too. Alan, on 7-7 I told you “now we worry”-- I meant it.)

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Michael,

The rationale during the Cold War was not that we'd rather kill us all than submit to communism. It was that, if they killed us, we'd kill them. I wouldn't say that policy was immoral. It was merely the only available deterrent.

Same with Japan. While I can't remember the exact reason why Nagasaki and Hiroshima were chosen as targets, the use of the atom bomb on Japan was morally justified because 1) we were at war, a war they started and 2) we needed to end it quickly or risk losing around 1 million soldiers.

Bombing Mecca, however, has no necessary strategic component to make it justifiable. The number of innocents killed is not an acceptable measure of whether or not something is moral. Morality must be measured by the reasons used, not the specific death toll after. And the reason used to bomb Mecca is really nothing more than blind revenge (although a lot of people are acting like there’s more to it, there’s really not).

I simply can't buy that threatening to nuke Mecca will somehow make all the uncooperative Muslim nations suddenly start working to help us. Most likely that will just piss them off more. Not to mention, they wouldn’t believe us. We might be a fierce nation but we aren’t insane. And bombing a holy city that poses no strategic threat is insane.

Jonathon had it right when he called it mafia tactics. There is not a moral justification for punishing someone by hitting an innocent target they happen to hold dear. That’s why we don’t execute criminal’s families when we’re trying to get information out of them. Or, to bring the mafia analogy full circle, burn down a Mafia Don’s church when we’re trying to stop him from committing his crimes. It’s arguably acceptable to indiscriminately bomb a city you’re at war with (although even that is generally considered wrong nowadays), but it is flat-out immoral to kill innocents in the blind hope that it might motivate your enemy (or, in this case, not-so-helpful ally) to change his ways.

And that’s just the moral argument against such an act. The military argument against such an act is equally as long. Mainly, before using a nuclear weapon, the military must have no other options left OR be relatively sure that there will be real positive returns on the heavy cost. But bombing Mecca would be a complete and total gamble and would more likely throw us into a major World War than it would resolve any problems.

It'd be great if this war could be sped along with one or two "big ideas." But, to me, bombing Mecca is just a viscious idea masquerading as a provactive idea.

 
At 12:51 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

Aubrey,

I'd say that link is definitely relevent: it highlights the fact that Rep. Tancredo and his sympathizers are proposing the US resort to terrorist tactics of our own.

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

After Aubrey's post I just want to clarify one thing (which my regular readers already know), I'm hawkish. I believe military action is essential in the war on terror. I just want us to do it wisely. The only way military force stops the enemy is if it hits the enemy. Hitting the enemy's holy site doesn't stop them. Kill or capture those responsible and those aiding those responsible.

I think we can be veyr strong militarily without resorting to extremist tactics.

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

My take is this: certain things are evil in all circumstances no matter what. Nuclear war is evil. I don't get the concept of justified evilness. I cannot reconcile my Chistianity with any concept of justified evilness. You can kill my family and all my friends and I'm still not going to kill innocent people.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Alan:
I just posted a long discussion on this over at my blog (with a link back here). It's some ungodly 2000 words or so, and I doubt you want me cross-posting that to your comments page.

I respect your arguments, as I respect you. I am far from sure that I am right. But my reasoning is running down a different path.

Michael Reynolds

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

Michael,

I've been reading your post on your site, and I think I see one key difference that needs to be highlighted. Your point was that our nuclear capabilities were a deterent against the USSR, and could be the same deterent against the terrorists.

This may not be the case. Remember, if Stalin launched his nukes at us and we dropped them back, he and most of his people would be obliterated. Stalin had a vested interest that that should not happen. This is not the case with the terrorists. Not only do they openly invite death as a path towards God, but they are not guarenteed to even be anywhere in the vicinity of Mecca during the time of the attack.

It is even possible that the threat on Mecca would be an insentive to the suicide bombers. Sacrifice one of their holy cities and a few hundred thousand believers in exchange for decimating a few million people in lower Manhattan and elevating Jihad to official state policy for a dozen Muslim countries? They may take that deal.

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Jonathon:

I disagree that they court death. I think they convince their foot soldiers to court death. The leadership - the decision makers - dig in and do all they can to survive. Suicide is for the grunts. Osama certainly doesn't seem interested in dying. This false image is part of what they use to intimidate us.

Remember the kamikazes? And the civilians who leapt from the cliffs on Okinawa? And yet when it was the emperor's ass on the line post Hiroshima, he folded his cards pretty quickly.

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

That is true, and I realize that not all al Quaeda elite are willing to die for their cause. However, that does not change the facts that

1) If those in the leadership do not wish to die, they simply stay away from Mecca (which they are doing anyway)

and

2) Destruction of Mecca may be an acceptable price to pay for unrestricted worldwide jihad and millions of dead Americans.

 
At 6:31 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

Why is it okay to justify nuclear use as a weapon of war? I have difficulty with the argument that since war is sometimes necessary (a point to which I'll agree) then it follows that nuclear weapons are then sometimes necessary (a point which I will obviously not agree). War is about two armies fighting each other, killing each other, destroying land etc. We kill those we have to kill, we capture those we can capture. Innocent lives are lost as a result, but killing innocent lives is not the point of war. Killing innocent lives is the point of nuclear use. It's retribution at its purest form.

It greatly disturbs me how much we accept retribution as an acceptible necessity in life, whether it's nuclear war or the death penalty.

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Rob,

I would agree with that. There's a good reason why only two nuclear bombs have ever been dropped. After we all saw what horror it wrought, no one has had the depth of evil or insanity required to do it again. I do think the bombs on Japan are justifiable, but only in the context of the time.

Even then, the targets were military (Nagasaki was a major producer of arms and parts and Hiroshima was teaming with military personel and was a communications hub -- I looked it up).

It's just not morally justifiable, in my mind, to purposefully target civilians.

 
At 8:45 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

Alan:
Did you see Amba picked up on this? Suddenly we're Lincoln-Douglas. Or may Nixon-Kennedy. Surely not Bush-Kerry.

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I'm thinking more like Abbott and Costello.

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

You know, just this morning I was sitting around asking myself "why in hell do I blog?' No one's paying me, it takes time away from the writing I do get paid for...

And then a day like today. I came over here, saw the Tancredo debate under way, got into your comments, decided I wanted to write more, then you and others got into my comments, and goddamned if I didn't remember why I do this: I love ideas, and I love debating ideas with smart, passionate people.

It's not quite sex or dinner at Charlie Trotter's, but it ain't bad.

I'm good for another couple of weeks.

 
At 9:26 PM, Blogger Rob Jackson said...

Alan,

Thanks for the research...I didn't know. My question, then, is if we were targeting military targets (like we had been all war) then why didn't we drop conventional bombs (like we had been all war)? Seems to me we had a different purpose.

Now, there is the argument that we killed 200,000 to save 800,000 (whether they be American or Japanese, civilian or military) and, therefore, the bombs were more humane than a land invasion.

Well, okay I guess...still turns my stomach.

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Michael,

Yep. A good debate makes it worth it.


Rob,

Yeah, well, the point was still to terrorize the Japanese into submission. It worked too. It's one of those things that is on the cusp of being immoral, I think. In retrospect, it's hard to defend but if force yourself to look at it from the perspective of the time...it's a lot more justifiable.

Still, not a banner moment for humanity. But, then again, the whole war was pretty much a low point for our species. When obliterating 120,000 people is one of the more morally justifiable acts of a war, you know things were pretty bad.

 
At 10:34 PM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

Rob,

Your quote "Well, okay I guess...still turns my stomach." very succinctly describes all war. We get so wrapped up in lauding the bravery and honor of the cause for which our greatest generation fought that we forget that the actual 4 years (more if you're not from the US) that were World War II were pure misery for all involved. The Civil War, the American Revolution, and Napolean’s march through Russia, to name a few, we most likely even harder on the soldiers than was WWII. As far back as history has been recorded, war has been the most arduous, painful, costly, and insane of all human endeavors.

As far as Hiroshima and Nagasaki are concerned, I believe that the bombs were indeed justified. Our invading forces would have lost, by conservative estimates of the time, between 100,000 and 200,000. The losses of Japanese military would be even higher. The culture of honor over life would have pushed casualties of rock-throwing, sharp-stick-bearing Japanese civilians over 1 million. The absolute horror that was the world's only nuclear attack was very dramatic, but it was the preferable option to the long, drawn out, classical invasion that necessarily would have followed. Pulling the trigger on a lesser horror to prevent one greater; that is war.

That being said, it is completely fallacious to compare today’s atomic arsenal to fat man and little boy. The strength increases of today’s atomic bombs over those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are measured by orders of magnitude. The cold war situation was completely different: mutually assured destruction. The question of whether such a policy was immoral is completely irrelevant. We had no choice. It was either point our weapons back at the USSR, or accept a Soviet empire.

That, perhaps, is what makes war so barbaric: when faced with the enemy, survival must, of necessity, trump any and all morals.

That is my thinking on the bombing of Japan and the cold war. I see no acceptable parallels between those two events and the bombing of Mecca. We bombed Japan to end a war. We threatened to bomb the Soviets to keep one from starting. Bombing Mecca would neither be a deterrent to terrorists, nor a final defeat to Jihad. It would merely be the angry response of a nation gone insane.

BTW, I'm also tracking discussion over at Thoughts of an American Centrist. Thought you'd like to know the legs this story has.

 
At 3:07 AM, Anonymous Ali Alghamdi said...

stupid Tom Tancredo even if you destroy mecca you didn't finshe the musilms aroud the world.We are worshiping Allah not black stone of mecca. donkey Tom Tancredo there was similar donkies like you every where every time one of the was Abyssinian ‎Abraha try to destroy this holly place before 1500 years ago. but Allh what did to him.We will see you in Iraq as a victoms.

 
At 9:46 AM, Anonymous CaseyL said...

The people who support the idea of nuking Mecca haven't said much about what they think the reaction will be.

I think it will be horrendous.

We will at one stroke make dire enemies of over 1 billion people. Mecca has no parallel in Christian or Jewish holy sites. No Christian or Jewish holy site has tens of millions of people making hajj to visit it every year, but Mecca does.

We will also horrify most of the world's population, regardless of their religious affiliation, political ideology, or national identity. Nuking Mecca can't be justified in military terms at all, not one little bit. It can only be seen, and will only be seen, as a rogue action by a megapower that's gone insane with fear and hatred.

So not only would every Muslim in the world become our enemy, but so would everyone else. And I don't mean, "an enemy that says nasty things about us," or even "an enemy that will launch thousands of terrorist attacks on US soil." I mean an enemy of every other government in the world, including Europe and China: all of whom have armies, and most of whom have nukes.

Nuking Mecca would not make the Islamic world cringe in fear of the mighty US. It would not lead AQ, OBL, Zarqawi, or anyone else throw up their hands and say, "OK; you win." It would not make every other country in the world admire our power or our capacity for destruction, and bow down before us accordingly.

It would make us an absolute pariah among nations, and an absolute threat to humankind - one that the world will unite against, and destroy, because it must.

 
At 11:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Tom Tancredo offended soem people by saying we could bomb Mislum holy cites if terrorists used nuclear weapons against us. Well, first of all, he's talking about an EMERGENCY response. He's not saying we should do this right now. He's saying that, if Islamic terrorists are willing to do extreme things to damage us, we must do the same.
I realize that Tancredo offended soem people when he said this, but if the United States ever faces a nuclear threat from these terrorists, offending people will be our last concern

 
At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turning 1.4 billion people against you is a trademarked Bad Thing. I did an analysis of what would happen if even 25% of the Muslim population of the United States turned suicide bomber and put the damage in terms of 9/11's and London train bombings. It's an ugly picture, and probably artificially bad to some extent. Anyone who is interested can look at it at Thoughts in the Daedalnexus or The 5th Estate LiveJournal community.

Also, Ed Quillen, a Denver Post columnist, has a serious but somewhat tongue-in-cheek column in today's paper about this: Preventing Wars, the Tancredo Way.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger Ted Carmichael said...

Tangential to the debate, the issue of the atomic bombs used in WWII has come up. Oddly enough, this is also the cover story of the newest Time magazine, as next month marks the 60th anniversary of that event.

Anyway, I thought ya'll would be interested in the following passage, which I certainly was not aware of:

"...only the US and Britain configured their forces and defined their war-fighting doctrines around the central element of a massive strategic air arm designed to carry the battle to the enemy's civilian society. In Europe, the US B-17 and B-24 bomber fleets made a considerable effort to restrict their attacks to high-value economic and military targets. But in the endgame of the war against Japan, long-range B-29 bombers systematically undertook fire-bombing raids that consumed 66 of Japan's largest cities and killed as many as 900,000 civilians - many times the combined death tolls of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

I've read before that there was some discussion about using the atomic bomb as a demonstration, rather than an attack, particularly from some of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan project. But the fact that Japan did not surrender after the first atomic bomb was dropped shows, I think, how ineffectual that method would have been.

One quick rebuttal that's back on the original discussion. Michael said: One other point: Al Qaeda succeeds not because of hopelessness in the Arab world, but because of hope. It has always been thus: revolutions come from rising expectations.

Yes, Al Qaeda does give hope to the radicals they recruit. I thought it was rather implicit, however, that they give hope to those who are generally without it. They give a twisted purpose to those who are somehow marginalized by their situation.

Certainly we need to push harder for these countries to undermine the influence of the radical clerics. But their are lots of ways to undermine their influence, and expanding education and opportunity is a hell of a lot cheaper than the war has been.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Jonathan C said...

ted,

One of the reasons that the Japanese did not surrender after the first bomb was because their scientists had made a miscalculation and told the leadership that the first atomic bomb would have required SO much uranium that we (the Americans) could not possibly have found enough to make more than one. When we came out and dropped the second bomb, it was a real "oh, crap" moment for their military. They didn't know how many of those things we had! Turns out, that was our last one, but they didn't know that.

 
At 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all the American peoples around the world I want tell ‎you that some thing in this globe the world never saw ‎human being like American at all notaries nation. You use ‎the first atomic bombs against innocent peoples you fights ‎poor countries like Vietnam, Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq oh ‎my god What is your problem with the poor peoples and ‎countries you should understand some thing this world for ‎both us either poor or rich like you . I think your mind fixed ‎in wrong direction upside down. Because you act like wise ‎direction no one will nuke you becase no one like

 
At 3:27 AM, Anonymous Q said...

All I have to say is this is really, really stupid what tom tancredo has said. Its just plain stupidity which comes from hardheaded politicians like this, that bring America into these conflicts. If you for one second think that bombing Mecca, would prevent terroism, I think you have been smooking too much of that home grown weed which is growing in your back gardern. How can you even think this? I thought a man of his stature would at least have some background knowledge on the basis of Islam. If you don't no don't make comments To;if you bomb Mecca or Medina, every muslim will be obligied to fufill their first duty to protect these two sites, not to mention what kind of retatlition would occur: from a colliation of muslim countries with a motive to show their aligence to there religion , these countries will attack other major relgious sites; which hold dear and importence values to jews and christians all around the world. It would'nt be wise at all to ever think of this. Shows he either slept throughout history class or was a complete moron with a big racial mouth.

P.S.. My Grammer Is Bad...Live With It. And Why Is Cnn Soo Racist ? ...

 
At 1:02 AM, Blogger kakashi sensi said...

ANY one who is mentioning the soviet union and japan and countries that the u.s went to war with is mistaking the point. Bombing mecca is targeting a religion not just an organization, not just a city, not a country but looking to go to war with 1.5 billion people. imagin muslims just in the u.s attacking civilians in the u.s, no nukes will save the u.s, you can't use mass destructive weapons with in the country. The worst war is war with in the country. Something like this will cause panic and corruption within the u.s.

 
At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ANY one who is mentioning the soviet union and japan and countries that the u.s went to war with is mistaking the point. Bombing mecca is targeting a religion not just an organization, not just a city, not a country but looking to go to war with 1.5 billion people. imagin muslims just in the u.s attacking civilians in the u.s, no nukes will save the u.s, you can't use mass destructive weapons with in the country. The worst war is war with in the country. Something like this will cause panic and corruption within the u.s. Bombing mecca is plain stupid.

 
At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US foreign policy of defense from atomic weapons via Mutual Assured Destruction can be just as effective with the Muslim Community and the Muslim States as it was during the Cold War with the Communist Communities under the USSR. It was successful then and would be successful now. Kissinger said it can only work if the enemy is AWARE of 3 ideas summarized that they know we will retaliate.

 
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