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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Defending Tancredo

Couldn't happen. Couldn't happen. Sure it could.

CONSUMING DESIRES. I hate to disagree with Hugh Hewitt two days in a row, but that's the way the cards fall sometimes. Congressman Tom Tancredo has apparently suggested that if America experiences a truly major attack, we should respond by bombing Mecca. Hugh Hewitt condemned the remarks immediately and then added the following after several other bloggers had weighed in:

The remarks he made are a positive disservice to the United States, for all the reasons Durbin's were.  He has to retract them. And he ought to apologize to every Muslim soldier, sailor, airman and Marine for suggesting that the way to respond to an attack on America is to attack their faith.

I have been hearing from people who urge that Tancredo is just voicing the updated version of the MAD doctrine which kept the USSR at bay through the long years of the Cold War. That's silly. Destroying Mecca wouldn't destroy Islam.  It would enrage and unify Islam across every country in the world where Muslims lived.

Let me be blunt: There is no strategic value to bombing Mecca even after a devastating attack on the U.S.  In fact, such an action would be a strategic blunder without historical parallel, except perhaps Hitler's attack on Stalin.  Anyone defending Tancredo's remarks has got to make a case for why such a bombing would be effective.

I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion.  It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT.

Fortunately for me, Mr. Hewitt is not alone in his dudgeon. Captain Ed Morrissey -- and I'm sure dozens of others -- have expressed similar views. Here's an excerpt from Captain Ed:

I think the "ultimate response" to Tancredo's apolcalyptic fantasy is that we don't bomb civilians in response to terrorist attacks, no matter how seductive such a response might seem. The idea that the US would retaliate in such a manner should be repulsive to any rational person, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. The war on terror targets the terrorists and the governments which fund and/or shelter them, not the civilians who happen to live there.

Besides, who is Tom Tancredo to make these threats anyway? He doesn't have anything to do with the military chain of command or the national security systems that would make those kinds of recommendations. He certainly doesn't speak for the President, who has to make the final determination in loosing those weapons on any target. Tancredo does, however, lend a false sense of credibility to such threats in international circles, thanks to his position as an elected Republican official.

In response to some criticism, Captain Ed also elaborated on his first entry:

I have no problem with unleashing the awesome power of the American military, but I don't want to be stupid about it. Destroying Mecca automatically gets us one billion overt enemies, where now we face around 20,000 active and a couple of million covert at best. Even threatening to do that puts us at a disadvantage when arguing that we are not attempting an existential war against Islam. How can any intelligent Muslim believe that while we threaten Mecca, which has no military value whatsoever and sits in the middle of a country with which we are not at war?...

Here's what we should make clear will happen if we suffer another major attack in the US, especially one that uses WMD or causes significant losses:

1. Take out the air forces of the two nations we know to support terrorists -- Syria and Iran.

2. Destroy all nuclear facilities in Iran, to the best of our intelligence.

3. Bomb all known militarily-related manufacturing facilities.

That response not only provides a significant deterrent, but actually addresses the threats arrayed against the West. Without any air defenses and with their production capabilities reduced to rubble, we will leave them in a position where we can easily pick them off at our leisure. It also will give them something to do with their money other than handing it to terrorists for the next decade or so.

I'm going to respond to a few specific statements of both these gentlemen.

HEWITT: Anyone defending Tancredo's remarks has got to make a case for why such a bombing would be effective.

MORRISSEY: Besides, who is Tom Tancredo to make these threats anyway? He doesn't have anything to do with the military chain of command or the national security systems that would make those kinds of recommendations.

Mr. Hewitt is wrong because Mr. Morrissey's question undermines both their arguments. Tancredo is not going to be making military policy, and so one can defend his remarks without having to defend their strategic military value. The question then becomes: what harm is really done by saying what a hell of a lot of people are thinking? I'll get back to this later.

HEWITT: The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion.  It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT.

MORRISSEY: Destroying Mecca automatically gets us one billion overt enemies, where now we face around 20,000 active and a couple of million covert at best.

Mr. Hewitt does have the occasional difficulty differentiating the facts as he counts them up from reality. Mr. Morrissey is having problems with counting period. Let me correct Mr. Hewitt this way: All of Islam is not the problem, but it is a problem and a mighty big one. That is not a fringe opinion. It is a very widespread and deeply held opinion, simmering under the surface while many angry Americans abide, in the name of reasonableness and prudence, the many statements offered by our president in praise and exculpation of the muslim faith as a whole.

What so many of us fringe idiots perceive -- and cannot overlook -- is the continuing absence from the so-called  mainstream muslim community here and abroad of an unequivocal, untemporized, undiluted denunciation of Islamofascism and the terrorism it spawns. The reality is that Islam, the Koran, and the words and deeds of Mohammed are uniquely, shall we say vulnerable(?), to being used as the justification for barbarous acts against those outside the faith. This vulnerability is unique among the world's religions. (And don't try to peddle thet Evil Christians vs Enlightened Saracens meme about the Crusades here; that's a PC rewriting of history that won't wash and shouldn't be employed by conservatives of any stripe.)

So permit me to correct Mr. Morrissey's figures as well by adding in the hordes of innocent civilians who cheered in the streets on 9/11, the double-dealing Saudi princes and their subjects who smile as they take American petro-dollars and send their tithes to the madrassas, the millions of young muslim men made militant by the fact they will never find wives because the muslim antipathy to women results in a permanent scarcity of female births, the prosperous American muslims who drive their BMWs to the TV studio so they can dodge questions about the terrorist status of Hamas and Hezbollah and utter their giant "BUT" after delivering the standard rote pseudo-condemnation of Wahabi murders, the sullen millions in Egypt and other "friendly" Arab states who watch al jazeera and believe every word of libel about America and every rehashed lie about Jews feasting on blood in accordance with the fraudulent protocols of the elders of Zion, the moderate mainstream peaceful God-fearing muslims throughout the Arab world who dream of the day they can finish what Hitler started and slaughter the very last evil rat of a Jew. By my count, the new number adds up to just shy of a billion. Maybe they're not suicide bombers, and maybe they're not really evil, but how many of them don't have a secret place in their hearts where they cheer for Osama bin Laden as a kind of Arab Robin Hood? And how many wouldn't leap into the streets in joy if somehow American power were annihilated, and the muslim nations survived alone on top of the heaps of rubble that used to be a world civilization?

And Mr. Hewitt, do not tell all the people who count as I do that they do not understand the war on terrorism. It appears they understand it better than you do. What they understand is that it's impolitic to demand that Islam confront its own virulent strain of original sin, that part of their sometimes pacific faith which compels them to seek out infidels and cut their heads off without mercy, guilt, or apology. They DO understand the measured response you gentlemen propose:

HEWITT: I have been hearing from people who urge that Tancredo is just voicing the updated version of the MAD doctrine which kept the USSR at bay through the long years of the Cold War. That's silly. Destroying Mecca wouldn't destroy Islam.  It would enrage and unify Islam across every country in the world where Muslims lived.

MORRISSEY: Here's what we should make clear will happen if we suffer another major attack in the US, especially one that uses WMD or causes significant losses:

1. Take out the air forces of the two nations we know to support terrorists -- Syria and Iran.

2. Destroy all nuclear facilities in Iran, to the best of our intelligence.

3. Bomb all known militarily-related manufacturing facilities.

That response not only provides a significant deterrent, but actually addresses the threats arrayed against the West. Without any air defenses and with their production capabilities reduced to rubble, we will leave them in a position where we can easily pick them off at our leisure.

The problem is that Mr. Morrissey's response would fail for the same reason that defeating Saddam's army in the field didn't end the violence and terrorism in Iraq. Fanatics are not reasonable people by definition. Those who advocate restraint on the basis of retaining the so-called support of so-called moderate muslims lack the imagination to foresee that those who are currently sitting uneasily on the fence may well jump to the other side of the fence if the West can be forced into a massive depression by a sufficiently devastating attack. It's hard for western capitalists to believe that there are others in the world who don't mind an increase in their own suffering if the wealthy can be made to suffer more. What is unthinkable to us is far more thinkable to even the average moderate muslim than you'd like to believe.

That's a serious weakness of approaching every situation from a completely reasonable standpoint. Case in point: the sudden hysteria afoot about even mentioning the word 'Nazi' in the contemporary context. There are still things we can learn from that experience. Does anyone remember the long-ago debate about whether Hitler was an aberration or a natural outgrowth of German culture? Probably not. In our reasonableness, we have excused the Germans for starting two world wars in the space of 25 years, and we have forgotten that Hitler's philosophy was inspired by a long German tradition of anti-semitism and delusions of racial and cultural superiority. Germans who loathed Hitler cheered when he conquered Europe. The number of Islamic enemies of the United States will increase not with every American victory or display of power, but with every American humiliation and defeat. Barbarians do not respond to forebearance but to strength. Fear they understand. Tact they ignore or contemn.

O but they are not barbarians. Let's sing it one, two more times. O but they are not barbarians. O but they are not barbarians. We cannot treat them that way. Why? Surely, the onus is now on all the moderate mainstream peace-loving muslims to stand up, now that they command the world stage, and convince the civilized that they are not barbarians. They could do it in words, loudly and clearly spoken from a thousand minarets, they could do it in deeds, by abstaining from the stoning and imprisonment of their women, by ceasing to hate and condone the murder of Jews, by participating in the relentless hunt for those who cut off heads on TV and butcher children in schools and baby carriages.

These things they haven't done. How might they respond to the decimation of the air forces and bomb factories of their despotic governments? With their usual rage. Would Syrian national military vulnerability stem the flow of young braindead barbarians to the madrassas and terror schools of those who would further humiliate the Great Satan? No.

The measured response would embolden the terrorist mind. If a nuclear attack is successful in America, the measured response you propose would serve only to "enrage and unify" the hundred million or so Americans who have thus far remained patient with moderate responses. It would do absolutely nothing else to defeat terrorism.

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?

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 that day it WILL be Mecca, and Medina, and every other spot on the globe where terrorists may be lurking or plotting new atrocities. I am not proposing such a strategy, I am predicting its inevitability. And I suggest that it does more good than harm if the muslim world gets a hint of this possibility -- even from a lowly congressman -- before their errors of judgment and faith lead them to a final catastrophe.

Remember that there is legitimate anger. And it will increase.


 

UPDATE:  Thanks to Michelle Malkin -- welcome to MichelleMalkin.com visitors. Feel free to take a look around.

Also, La Shawn Barber's Corner took note -- thanks.

And thanks for the nod from Donald Sensing.

 

UPDATE:  Continued analysis HERE and HERE.







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