Tom Tancredo and Treading Carefully

By Leon H Wolf Posted in Comments (89) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Thus far, I've not commented much on the controversial remarks by Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO), which have been widely shouted down and misrepresented by bloggers left and right. In the first place, the context in which the remarks occured sheds much light on how the words came to be uttered in the first place:

Campbell: Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the borders and they were to use something like that -- what would our response be?

Tancredo: What would be the response? You know, there are things that you could threaten to do before something like that happens and then you may have to do afterwards that are quite draconian.

Campbell: Such as...

Tancredo: 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, um, you know, you could take out their holy sites . . .

Campbell: You're talking about bombing Mecca.

Tancredo: Yeah. What if you said -- what if you said that we recognize that this is the ultimate threat to the United States -- therefore this is the ultimate threat, this is the ultimate response.

I mean, I don't know, I'm just throwing out there some ideas because it seems to me . . . at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could possibly imagine and because other than that all you could do is once again tighten up internally.

Okay - so, first of all, it is important to note that the suggestion to bomb Mecca itself was not Tancredo's, it was Campbell's. However, Tancredo did offer that he would bomb their "holy sites" so we are splitting hairs there just a tad.

Now, what a lot of well-intentioned bloggers like Hugh Hewitt and the rest of the right-leaning crowd are missing when they shout down Tancredo like this is that Tancredo was intentionally throwing out the most draconian response he could imagine to the detonation of multiple nuclear weapons on United States soil.

Now, while I don't necessarily agree that strategically, bombing Mecca should be the first item of importance on our list, I think that what Hewitt and others are doing in shouting down this idea so loudly is dead wrong and dangerous. Nuclear weapons, by their very nature, are so destructive that the temptation for an outmanned power to use them in war is very great indeed - which is what makes them such an attractive weapon for Islamofascist terrorists. The only thing that kept either side from using them in the Cold War was of course, the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), in which we both knew that if we started launching nukes, we'd end up destroying the totality of both our countries.

Now, when dealing with Islamofascists, the equation gets a little trickier - because as we can plainly see, a lot of these Islamofascists don't have the most well-developed sense of self-preservation. They think nothing of the value of their own lives, or even the lives of their spiritual brothers and sisters, so long as it goes to further their own cause. That is why they have no qualms about detonating bombs in or near mosques, or flying planes into buildings occupied at least partly by Muslims. To them, a few (or many) deaths in the name of Islam is worth the price to spread their radical brand of Islam into the world.

To put it succinctly, their brand of Islam is the only thing in the world they can be threatened with. They could care less if Riyadh or Tehran were turned into seas of glass. On the other hand, the destruction of Mecca and their other irreplacable holy sites might be the only notion that would give a terrorist who is actually dedicated and cunning enough to successfully manage a nuclear detonation on U. S. soil pause for thought.

So, whem Tom Tancredo makes these remarks, and is widely condemned by people on both sides of the ideological spectrum, a strategic response is effectively removed from the table. This is horrible policy in Nuclear warfare - in which the only effective means of deterrence is convincing your enemy that no measure of response is so draconian that it will be removed from the table.

Now, you might very well know in your heart of heart that the United States never would or should bomb Mecca in response to multiple nuclear attacks. But in this poker game, where the stakes are measured in hundreds of thousands of lives, you dare not show that card to the world.

MORE: Jeff Goldstein agrees, Michelle Malkin stands in the middle.


In all the discussion of Tancredo's remarks, it would be interesting to know if the Islamofascists care whether Mecca is bombed.  They don't care if innocent civilians are killed and they don't appear to care if they themselves are killed while tying to kill others.  So do they care if a particular place (Mecca) is destroyed?

My guess is that they don't care.  Perhaps we could ask them? (I don't how we do that).

although they would maybe care in a response that I am not sure Tancredo expects.

Look at how they behaved regarding the Koran flushing thing.

I imagine bombing mecca would be comparable or worse.

But I don't think they would care about the people, the "Holy Site" yes, but the people no.

I support Cong. Tancredo's remarks.  He truly cares about this nation's security.

I meant the Holy Site or Place. I assume they don't care about the people who may be living or visiting there.


But Rep. Tancredo's remarks come across awful differently when placed in their proper context, as Leon has done.  Clearly, he is not the Durbin that Hugh Hewitt and others have made him out to be.  A little loose with his words?  Maybe, but essentially he has offended the sensibilities of people who don't have much sensibility to offend.

I disagree on the 'Durbin' parallel. I think House members should be held to the same standard as Senators on the subject of keeping a "careful tongue." Just as Durbin should have anticipated that his remarks on the Senate floor would become a propaganda fountain for our enemies, so Tancredo should have seen this one coming and ducked when asked about "draconian responses."

Don't they send Congressmen to some school where they learn to say things like, "I can't get into hypothetical military responses"? Instead we probably already have Mullahs over there telling their "flocks" that the US is planning to nuke Mecca, and a US Congressman said so. We need that like a hole in the sand.

Totally agreed. If Tancredo is to be blamed, it is for opening his mouth and this can of worms for us to deal with. That has forced everyone to declare their hand and where they stand on this issue, and politicians - being politicians, have been forced to declare that when push came to shove, we really probably wouldn't take out Mecca.

So, in a sense, I have to fault Tancredo for being the catalyst for showing the world what one of the cards in the hole really is.

But I think it's also irresponsible on the part of all those who have followed in his wake, condemning it as "ridiculous" and something that would never happen.

Trancendo's comments were stupid and indefensible.  Period.

As far as whose sensibilities he may have offended.  Tell it to the Iraqi police and soldiers who are fighting and dying along side ours.  They might have a few objections to a member of Congress who suggested bombing one of their holy sites.

Part of what is going on I think is an attempt to define our enemy.  If we believe, as I have so far, that our war is with radical islam, and that moderate islam is our ally in that fight (if we can only motivate the moderates), then these kinds of statements by Rep. T are of no help--and could harm the effort.  On the other hand, if you think that we are really at war with the religion of islam--although not necessarily with all of its adherants--then these comments are not so out of line.  Although few of us want this to be in a clash of civilizations--islam vs. non-islamics, it is possible that we are indeed engaged in such a conflict.

People are getting confused and afraid.  After each jihad attack, other than tighten security and look for the perpetrators, what else can we do?  There is a desire to strike back--like the USA did in Afghanastan.  I think Rep T. is reflecting the public's frustration.

Muslims believe Mecca is protected by Angels. No human can successfully attack Mecca. If Congressman Tancredo wanted to attack Mecca, he could try -- but he would fail.

Just as flocks birds struck down the Abyssinian army of elephants (see If anything, the Divinity of Allah would finally be proven for our generation.

    Although few of us want this to be in a clash of civilizations--islam vs. non-islamics, it is possible that we are indeed engaged in such a conflict

I think many of us have the worry bit set on that item. We would prefer it not to be true, and so we are postponing confirmation of that datum until we actually have to decide. As Tancredo suggests, that decision arrives with the first use of WMDs by an Islamic terrorist. When their little expressions of frustration are costing us five- or six-figure numbers of people at a pop, the time will have come for us to insist that the so-called "moderate Muslims" snuff this nonsense, and fast, or we will — in our usual Western fashion — apply an Engineering Solution.

First, Tancredo suggests "holy sites" before the host mentions Mecca.

Second, there is no reason to believe that threatening to bomb Muslim holy sites will deter Islamic or other terrorists.

Third, this statements lends major credence to the widespread international view of Americans as warmongers and of Americans as anti-Muslim.  In fact, this statements hurts the War on Terror much more than the Durbin one a few weeks ago.

If Tancredo was my Congressman, I would be voting against him in 2006 regardless of who his opponent is.  He is giving rhetorical ammo to the enemy and suggesting the United States attack innocent civilians in response to an attack by a rogue group.  That's "outside the mainstream" and it should be outside legitimate debate.

I think you are missing the point of my post.

There are a billion different reasons to not hit Mecca in response to a nuclear attack on U. S. soil.

Just like there are a billion different reasons not to launch our entire nuclear arsenal and turn the Soviet Union into a radioactive graveyard if they launch a single missile at us.

But, when you are seeking to deter the unthinkable from happening, you absolutely do not take any options off the table. Your enemy must believe you are capable of anything, including the total and complete eradication of all your people, your homeland, and everything you hold dear. Otherwise, you open the door a little wider for the temptation for them to use nukes on you.

Parents use the same tactic on a smaller scale all the time. When I was growing up, I can honestly say that I never swore once in the presence of my parents. Not even when I thought they might conceivably be within earshot. When I was smaller, I believed that my dad might physically kill me if I did so, and that worked rather well.

Now, Dad never said such a thing, and looking back I realize that was really foolish of me to believe. But by golly, it worked.

When you're talking deterrence, you always have things in your back pocket that you simply know you're not going to use. But when you're deterring something as serious as a nuclear attack, you never let the other guy know that. That's my point.

So you're saying, if we go over there to bomb Mecca, and the Angels are taking the day off and Mecca becomes a parking lot, Islam is proven to be a fraud and we suddenly have a lot less potential terrorists?

You need new angels.  They failed to prevent the prolonged, bloody and successful Umayyad siege of the city in 692 AD; they failed to prevent the Saudi storming of the city c.1926 (I forget the exact date); and they failed to prevent the Iranian assault upon and seizure of the Grand Mosque in 1979.

That's just from memory: all in all, Mecca isn't the safest place to be.

So, bad angels.  Or perhaps they just don't like Abyssinians.

"Just like there are a billion different reasons not to launch our entire nuclear arsenal and turn the Soviet Union into a radioactive graveyard if they launch a single missile at us."

It is this analogy that worries me the most.  We were at War with Soviet Union.  A Cold War yes, but a war nonetheless.  We are not at War with Islam.  That is the breakdown in analogies.  If you want to be hyperbolic then say we are going to nuke all terrorist-sponsor states including Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.  It is also a very bad idea, but at least it indicates that the speaker realizes where this group of terrorists is coming from.  Further, our threat to the Soviets was credible.  I still believe we would have unleashed nuclear weapons on them if they hit us first.  I do not believe (and I hope it is untrue) that a terrorist group could entice us into declaring nuclear war on a 1 billion person religion.  If anything, that is a major incentive to terrorist groups (independent of the religion of Islam) to make such an attack.

I reiterate that this comment has done more to hurt our outreach to those who don't want to suicide bomb us, yet.

as has already been mentioned here, Tancredo doesn't have the authority to make that threat credible. Your argument about scaring the daylights out of them is moot, since no one outside Tancredo has suggested this is a feasible course of action.

Let's say, hypothetically, we have a large group of terrorists who conduct attacks in the name of Catholicism. Would it be acceptable to bomb the Vatican?

Would it be acceptable to bomb Jerusalem if there is a large movement of Jewish terrorists?

I understand that there is a point to be made with the first one, at least, that since Catholicism is hierarchical, it would matter whether or not the Pope was supporting terrorism.

It is patently obvious that there are some who want that conflict of civilizations on both sides.

However, niether side is quite there yet.  In my opinion, what is going on now in Iraq and Afghanistan is an effort to head off that conflict.  If democracy and the type of tolerance we have here can take hold there, we have a chance to avoid the conflict.

    Tancredo doesn't have the authority to make that threat credible.

You know that, because you are familiar with where Tancredo fits in the grand scheme of things. You think the camel herder in Iran knows that? When his Mullah tells him that a US Congressman said that the US should blow up Mecca, that guy has no idea who Tancredo is or where he fits.

In Iran, there are people in the parliament whose actual power is belied by their seemingly low title. If they are in the "in group," they swing a very large bat indeed, no matter what it might say on their business card. This is the only model our camel herder knows to apply to a "US Congressman."

You figure the Mullah will tell him the truth? I don't. If the guy's response is to send his sons off to jihad training, the Mullah wins.

it could be spun that way. But Leon was not talking about the mullah's strategy, he was talking about ours. Threaten to blow up their holy sites, and they'll listen. I think in that case, we're not talking about the camel herder, we're talking about guys who DO know that one congressman can't set foreign policy.

...I think. It is difficult in this world to establish realist arguments like this one, because the information level is so low, but I think there are still some informational standards that terrorist leaders reach. You're talking about one guy, on a talk show, making one comment. For them to defend against that "threat" would be a waste of time.

On the other hand, I do agree that most of them are probably real ill-informed, and if told that a congressman wanted to blow up Mecca, might believe that that was a credible threat. It's the worst of both worlds--the actual threat is not one we can back up, and the people who matter know that, but they can spin it so that the rest of the people think it is. He should not have made the comment.

    In my opinion, what is going on now in Iraq and Afghanistan is an effort to head off that conflict. If democracy and the type of tolerance we have here can take hold there, we have a chance to avoid the conflict

Precisely. This is the noble endeavor in which President Bush has enlisted the United States. I cannot applaud him enough for cutting to the chase and seeing what has to happen if the terrorism continues, and to take such steps as seem possible to try to head it off.

It disturbs me greatly that the members of the Reality Based Community, who think they are so smart, cannot see this. We're talking genocide here if Bush's effort fails, and they can't see past next week.

at least as far as kids go. If you want to maintain any kind of authority, you never make a threat that you are not 100% prepared to back up, whether as a teacher or as a parent.

I suspect the kid analogy extends surprisingly well to international politics.

We need to lay that out as an alternative.  Say, point-blank that if the problem is not dealt with now, it could get very ugly for either us or them... and that it's very likely that in the case of things getting ugly the ugliness with be delivered to them on an overwhelming scale.

And it will probably be after the first WMD attack on American soil.

I'm glad to see Leon talking some sense on this issue.  I don't think, as things stand now, that any contingency plans will ever be made to bomb Mecca or any other 'holy site' of Islam.

However, things can and do change.

The point needs to be made that, if Islamic terrorists nuked, say, NYC and DC, killing Bush, Cheney, and half of Congress, it's hard telling who might assume control of the US government.  If someone comes to power with views like Congressman Tancredo in that situation, they very well could order Mecca, Medina, and anywhere else for that matter to be nuked, and who could stop them?

Again, this is war, not a dinner party.  I don't care who gets offended.

Maybe when every murdering terrorist is wiped out, I'll care, but not before then.

Tancredo's deterrent idea may be our only hope, in the long run, of getting "moderate" Muslims to actually fight the terrorists, instead of making excuses for them all day long.

And you'll notice that in the kid analogy, I was careful to note that my Dad never specifically made such a threat. He was just careful to leave all the options open, so that I was free to let my own mind conjure far worse punishments than he would actually have been willing to dish out.

Now, as I said further upthread, if Tancredo is in fact guilty here, it is of that very thing - making a threat he (and, by extension, the US) did not have any intention of carrying out.

Nothing at all should have been said about it, and it should have been left on the table by implication.

There's nothing wrong with taking an option off the table that's clearly a bad one under any circumstances.  Nuking Mecca is something that OBL himself might do if he's ruthless enough and can find a cadre of his followers who are either cynical or loyal enough to pull it off--so why would we want to even imply that we'd do it?  It won't decrease the military might of any Muslim countries, and it would absolutely infuriate even the doves there.  Taking nuking Mecca off the table as a response to a nuclear attack on a US city is like taking poisoning the fresh water supply of the entire world as a response to a biological weapons attack off the table--it's a bad response that wouldn't accomplish any useful purpose, so why not make it clear up front that we don't intend to do it?  It'd be nice if--in the event that Mecca was nuked by OBL or similar parties--that the Muslim world knew that we had no interest in seeing it happen under any circumstances.

You really think that threatening to bomb their holy sites will win over Muslim moderates?  Even through fear?

Think about what would have happened if France, wanting to end Republican dominance of American politics, had offered up the idea of blowing up the Washington monument, or evangelical churches, as a deterrent to re-electing Bush.  How do you think that would play to moderate Americans?

Tancredo's remarks were wrong on at least two levels. First, any moderate Muslim (especially those in our military, those in the Iraqi and Afghan militaries and police forces, and dissidents in Iran and Syria, all of whom face more danger than Rep. Tancredo does on a daily basis) has just cause to be extremely offended by the comments. For that alone, Tancredo should apologize. Second, aside from being morally indefensible, his remarks were also extremely stupid. While I haven't yet heard definitively that his remarks have been picked up by Al-Jazeera and similar media outlets, I can't imagine that what he said isn't going to be used against us in the propaganda war that we are already badly losing. It's a lot easier for some extremist cleric to lie about how the US wants to destroy/colonize the Muslim world if he can play audio tapes of idiots like Tancredo spouting the kind of nonsense that he did. Therefore, Tancredo will have put US troops/moderate Muslims in harm's way if the aforementioned extremist cleric gets any terrorist recruits by citing Tancredo's remarks. Last but not least, anybody who thinks bombing Mecca would make our problem any easier is at best wrong-headed and at worst insane. Then we really would have the entire Muslim world against us, including the population with Iran (who at the moment are more pro-Iraq war than are Americans, if Kenneth Timmerman is correct).

I gather that Tancredo has a lot of fans among the crowd who thinks George W. Bush is an apostate conservative. My advice for such people is to forget Tancredo and start supporting the as-yet-unannounced presidential bid of Newt Gingrich, whose conservatism is above question and who, to be frank, seems to be a lot brighter than our friend from Colorado.

Your comparison of abetting terrorists and voting for Bush is repugnant.

but a good point. No, I don't care about offending Islamic terrorists who murder innocent people. What I do care about is taking whatever steps are necessary to protect the United States against terrorism, including, for the foreseeable future, not blowing up Mecca.

Tancredo's point was that, if terrorists get a nuke, perhaps the only way to prevent the mass murder of Americans is to scare the daylights out of the terrorists?  Have you ever noticed that the terrorists don't go after China?  Think about why.

I know there's no way our government will be as indifferent to human life as Red China's, but if we could make the Muslim world THINK we were, we might force people to make the hard choices.

A quick Google search on this subject will reveal the large number of foreign press reports of the comments.

The important thing to consider is that many of these publications are not inclined to be friendly to the US in the first place. Thus, they are more likely to take things out of context or ignore whatever subtly was being attempted.

He should have apologized as quickly as possible, we don't need to give any more negative ammo to our foes.

  1. I'm sorry to hear you think it's indefensible to want to protect American cities from nuclear holocaust.
  2. American troops are already in harm's way.
  3. What moderate muslims?  The ones you're saying would be turned into violent opponents of Iraqi and Afghan freedom because of one statement?  When these people unite against terrorism the way you say they could unite against us, then I'll believe they exist.

Personally, in the event that Islamofascist terrorists get a nuke, there's nobody more fitting for the office of President than Rep. Tancredo.  He's the only one right now who could credibly threaten vengeance if they actually struck us, and insist that the ENTIRE world join in tracking down and killing the would-be nukers of New York City.

well by asf6

Have you ever noticed that the terrorists don't go after China?  Think about why.

Because China is not perceived as an imperial, Zionist, anti-Muslim menace the way that the West is? Because China is capable and perhaps willing to provide financial and military support to the terrorists' goals?

If Osama got a nuke, I don't think he'd hesitate to use it even if he thought we'd blow up Mecca in return. He knows very well that would only land him thousands more recruits.

was not meant to be symbolic in any way, but rather to show how ridiculous your original statement was about "winning over" moderates with threats of a nuclear holy war.

If you don't see a difference between...

  1. Swaying people against harboring and aiding terrorists, which is a wicked and awful thing
  2. Voting in a free and fair election for a champion of freedom worldwide

... then yes, your analogy makes sense.  It doesn't make sense to me, though.

We need to be SCARIER than they are, so the "moderate muslims" will start actually rejecting terrorism, instead of running scared of the terrorists and ignoring the problem.

is worthwhile, since clearly the ME can see our white hats plain as day.

You already admit that the press that will harp on this are already against us.  So what's the point in apologizing for wanting to take drastic steps to prevent New York City, Washington D.C., and/or Los Angeles from becoming craters?

I really don't care if they think we're good guys are bad.

We just need to make them so unbelievably scared of the wrath of the USA, that they will make absolutely sure that nobody who attacks us has any connections with them.

If a simple arrest of the would-be bombers can prevent their countries from turning into glass, they'll strongly consider it, I'm sure.

As we wouldn't be making war in the name of any particular God.

I add that I'm not a huge proponent of nuking innocents for any reason.

Fine by asf6

but a moderate Muslim in Indonesia, in Pakistan, in Morocco, or in France does not feel personally and physically endangered by a threat to nuke Mecca. He does, on the other hand, feel intense anger toward the people making that threat.

I'm no fan of nuking cities either, but the situation Rep. Tancredo was faced with didn't offer that option.

The choice wasn't "have no cities nuked" or "nuke Mecca."  The choice was "do nothing as we lose cities" or "threaten to nuke Mecca in the hopes that it prevents us from losing cities."

Let them be angry.  Better that a few million muslims are angry, than a few million Americans are dead.

How you could advocate bombing the holy site of a religion with 1 billion adherents, most of which are not terrorists. How would you feel if someone bombed the Vatican, or Jerusalem, or any other number of holy sites because of the actions of one sect of your religion?

Logic is a foreign language to some people.

No, not the ones he's saying would be turned into violent opponents.

He's talking about those of us who are working day in and day out to stop fellow Americans from dying, those of us who are loyal and loving citizens, those of us who respect our government and try to be patient with the fear and misunderstanding that emanates from the rest of the Western world in response to these horrible attacks, those of us who refuse to hate despite constant attacks on our beliefs and our peoples.

WE are the Muslims that are offended by Tancredo's remarks. WE are the Muslims who do denouce terrorism and Usama and al-Qaida and all those who support him, whether overtly or by sympathy. WE are the ones who are trying what we can do to change the Muslim worldview that most on RedState so denouce,yet WE are being blamed for doing nothing.

I'm not usually melodramatic; I'm not usually PC. After all, I'm a fellow Republican. However, the prevailing view of most of the editors on RedState regarding Islam saddens me. I understand that we shouldn't whitewash and say that Islam is a peaceful religion, without any sort of atoning for what is being done in our name. I am furious with the Muslim masses who consider any form of terrorism justifiable. But I'm sick and tired of myself and my family being painted with a broad brush as belonging to a community of hatred.

I think that this is Neil's point (and if it's not, it's mine).

Moderate Muslims (like yourself) have already made up their mind that the mission statement and SOP of Al-Qaeda and their ilk is to be categorically rejected. Any Muslim who is still sitting on the fence as to whether Israel should be bombed into the sea, or whether 9/11 was justified, is quite frankly not "moderate."

Further, any Muslim who could be successfully recruited into Al-Qaeda or a similar group on the basis of one irresponsible remark is just playing moderate. Would you agree?

Those who can be turned into terrorists based on a single remark are not moderate.

I still think we should, on a pragmatic level, be careful with remarks for that reason (i.e. not creating more terrorists), although on the matter of principle I'd understand why you'd disagree.

However, Tancredo's remarks were offensive, to actual moderate Muslims. It almost hurts my brain to be PC about this topic, but we wouldn't tolerate remarks about bombing the Vatican, or bombing Jerusalem (which, of course, has been bombed numerous times by the very terrorists we are trying to fight). Some of it may not make total logical sense to you, as we Americans are allowed to dissent and say what we want, whether it's against a religion or a people who we believe to be wrong. But, on the basis of pure emotion, think about how perhaps irrationally you would react if someone accused your religion and its adherants of being hateful?

Moreover, I believe that bombing Mecca would be morally wrong, as, at least to me, this is an affront to God and one of His holy places (although Christians, of course, would disagree, not seeing Mecca as holy). I am less upset on behalf of Muslims as I am upset in my heart at an insult to a Lord in whom we all believe.

By the way, let me be completely clear in honor of full disclosure - this is a point I neglected to make in my subsequent diary. I am not completely a Muslim anymore - I actually did some soul searching my sophomore year of college and decided I didn't truly believe in the faith. I believe in one God, basically, and identify strongly in Christianity, although, of course, I'm struggling with the basic tenet of Jesus' divinity. I'm neither right now.

I'm sorry to hear you think it's indefensible to want to protect American cities from nuclear holocaust.

Quite frankly, I have no idea where you got that.  There isn't anything in what I said that would indicate that I think a desire to spare American cities from nuclear holocaust is "indefensible". I happen to live in an American city, and most of the people I know live inside or near my city. The idea that I don't want the government to protect our cities is totally false and I challenge you to find one bit of evidence for it in my post. If you can't, you should post a retraction.

American troops are already in harm's way.

Unfortunately true (or do you want to baselessly accuse me of not wanting to protect our troops too?). And they'll be in more danger when people volunteer to join Zarqawi's terror gang (or support it in some other way) because they've been told (falsely) that the US must be comtemplating an attack on Muslim holy sites, after all a member of their gov't said it so it must be true.

What moderate muslims?  The ones you're saying would be turned into violent opponents of Iraqi and Afghan freedom because of one statement?  When these people unite against terrorism the way you say they could unite against us, then I'll believe they exist.

The moderate Muslims I was referring to are...the moderate Muslims I actually referred to (again, you would have had to read my post). In addition to moderate Muslim civilans in America and other countries, how about Muslims serving in our military, or the Iraqi or Afghan militaries or police forces, or Iranian student dissidents- in other words, people who have far more anti-terrorist credentials than me or most other Americans.

Personally, in the event that Islamofascist terrorists get a nuke, there's nobody more fitting for the office of President than Rep. Tancredo.  He's the only one right now who could credibly threaten vengeance if they actually struck us, and insist that the ENTIRE world join in tracking down and killing the would-be nukers of New York City.

Please. If you want, I'll take the time to write a list of 100 people I'd rather see in the Oval Office in such a situation. The list will even include Democrats, and fairly liberal ones at that.

If Tancredo runs as a Dean-like "insurgent" candidate in '08, he might do as much damage to our party as Chairman Howie did to his. Hopefully he'll be the first candidate to drop out, that way he might not do as much damage to the GOP's chances and Dean did to the Dems' chances.

Put yourself in the situation Tancredo put himself in:  UBL's people have nuclear weapons.

What do you do?

The comparison the diarist made of Mutually Assured Destruction is a bad one, I think.  Because it overstates the nationalistic attachment that terrorists have to their homeland.  MAD worked for the Soviet Union because it was actually a leverage point - the Soviets felt a real responsibility to protecting their homeland.  Both sides were very much about building up nuclear weapons as deterrents, and only sabre-rattling to put across the impression that they might be awful enough to launch the nukes.

Since both sides knew that when it came right down to it, neither side wanted to set off nukes, that's part of why MAD worked.

I don't think that leverage exists with terrorists.  We know damn well they don't have respect for the lives of innocents.  We know they want to set off nukes.  We know they put ideology, and the thought of joining Allah in the afterlife, ahead of anything worldly.

I honestly don't believe that alluding to the destruction of Mecca has any deterrent effect on terrorists.  There isn't the benefit to that kind of rhetoric, that there was with MAD.  And the cost - alluding to the destruction of something that is highly important to moderate Islam - hurts our standing even more.

So to me, Tancredo's statement came across as a lot of stupid and no smart.  I frankly think it played right into the terrorist's hands because then they have more ammo to use against us while they try to radicalize the moderates.

I find out which, if any, countries helped Bin Laden get the nuke. I mount a response against those countries. I realize that my answer was somewhat vague, but the proposed situation is somewhat vague. Everything depends on specifics.

You say you are not a lunatic.  Do you mean to imply that those who disagree with you are?

...taking out Muslim holy sites and at least one city full of innocents in retaliation for a possible attack is pretty far off the deep end.

I know you're not Catholic, but Vatican City is not analogous to Mecca. The more analogous response would be Jerusalem, but even that's a pretty cruddy analogy, for a host of reasons, not least being that no one in the Church prays toward that location daily.

Christianity has a more universalist mindset in some ways, as a result of the way it grew and developed. If you wiped Vatican City off the map tomorrow, you'd have some angry Catholics, but the psychic dissonance would be significantly less than wiping out Mecca.

That is all.

jm, your perspective is probably not unique, but certainly rare. Would you be interested in penning your thoughts about the sacredness of Mecca, from your perspective as someone just outside the circle of faith? Email me - azizhp at gmail.

It felt weak when I made it, but it's the best analogy I could find. Point to you. (and I tried throwing Jerusalem in there too).

What most people making comments here are missing the point which is to determine what deterrents are available.

If one side in a conflict feels they are losing the battle if they have more casualties than the other side and the other side think they loose when their battle equipment loses are the greatest.

In this case both sides could think they are winning or both believe they are losing.  It is based on what you value.

We must figure out what is valued and aim for that.

al-Qaida DOES NOT value Mecca. The AQ movement is heartless and arguabely GODLESS. They will use any harm against Mecca though as a PR free for all.

At this point, these guys value bin Ladin and Zarqawi more than they value God or Mecca.

(Which makes them apostates by their own strict codes..but what's a little hypocrisy to al-Qaida? Arguably, bin Ladin should be against pictures or art that depict the human image, but he makes extensive use of video/television).

The people who truly value Mecca are not the AQ leadership. And although some of them may be sympathetic to the AQ cause (I curse them too), the people that value Mecca are not the ones we're trying to deter.

I guess I would pull a Ronnie Reagan and go after the place where the terrorists actually LIVE and not attack a holy city that would essentially make Islamoterrorism a universal belief in Islam rather than the minute extremist position it is today.

Take the politically stupidity of Tancredo's comments out of the discussion for a moment.  Let's say that Bin Laden gets a nuke.  Do you REALLY believe that a threat of nuking Mecca would stop him from using it?  

The guy is TRYING to create a holy war in which all Muslims rise up to defeat the infidels.  He is under the mistaken belief that all that Islam needs to do to militarily defeat the West is to be unified and their fight and that Allah will ensure victory.

By even THREATENING to attack Mecca we simply help him convince people that this IS a holy war and that if the Muslims don't fight back NOW they West will destroy them and everything they believe in.

Tancredo should have known, and I suspect DID know, that his comments would be incediary.  He should have said something like "I don't deal with hypotheticals".  There was no good answer to the question so the prudent politician DOESN'T ANSWER THE QUESTION.  Politicians make their living by avoinding uncomfortable questions.  Apparently Tancredo either forget this skill for 5 minutes or was willful in intent.

Somebody pointed out on another thread that Stalin and other Soviet leaders didn't necessarily have great regard for the well-being of their people. This is obviously true. But Soviet leaders did rely on their nuclear arsenal and the power and prestige of Mother Russia to remain in power--the one thing that mattered to most of them. If you take those things away, they're up a creek. None of that applies to al-Qaeda.

Come post on "not a war against Islam"...I could use your help.

"I guess I would pull a Ronnie Reagan and go after the place where the terrorists actually LIVE and not attack a holy city that would essentially make Islamoterrorism a universal belief in Islam rather than the minute extremist position it is today"

If that's true, that every adherent of the religion is a potential terrorist, then Islam must be destroyed at any cost.

If that's true, that every adherent of the religion is a potential terrorist, then Islam must be destroyed at any cost.

Anyone could be a terrorist given the right circumstances.  It's like people are born terrorism.  It's not a genetic trait.  

Terrorism is a method.  It's not a belief system.

It's distressing to me how rarely I see this distinction made on the Left or on the Right.   The reason not to gratuitously bomb Mecca, or more generally not to be viewed as anti-Islam, has nothing to do with the sensibilities of those who've decided to seek our destruction, but everything to do with not adding to their number.

That said, it certainly seems to me that Tancredo's remarks have been taken out of context.

Tancredo has fully clarified and contextualized his statement. He merely said that the Islamofascists should be aware that FOLLOWING a massive terrorist attack on America they should expect a reciprocal attack on their holy city of Mecca. I'd throw in Medina as well to bring the point home. He was, of course, speaking theoretically but keeping such an option on the table could be a factor that causes moderate Muslims to be more eager to cooperate against the terrorists living among them. As Benjamin Netanyahou said in his book on terrorism, mutually assured destruction worked with the Soviets. This was because even though they followed an irrational ideology their behaviour in foreign affairs was essentially rational. With fanatical jihadists, however, no such rational behaviour can be expected. Therefore, only the belief that belief that they might bring destruction of the things most sacrosanct and holy to them could give them pause. They may behave irrationally but they're not deranged enough to want to bring ruin to things holy to THEMSELVES. In any case, I think the media have once again manufactured an issue out of a simple and sensible dialogue.

Deterrence only works when the folks you are deterring are rational.  Based on the conduct of al-Qaeda and various state sponsors of terrorism, I am not convinced we are dealing with rational people.

This is the whole "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" thing.

Anyone could be a terrorist given the right circumstances.

Unprovable, and undisprovable. But I like to take a brighter view of humanity than that one.

Lots of things are unprovable.  

However it is REASONABLE to believe that if a certain group of people made your life so miserable you would be willing to put aside morality and do to them whatever you felt was necessary to extract "justice" or to achieve some other goal.

If, all of the sudden, the Chinese government were to discover a way to render our weapons useless and at the same time started wiping out cities I suspect that you would be pretty willing to kill Chinese citizens if you felt that it would stop the Chinese from killing Americans.

This, IN NO WAY, justifies the actions of Al Qaeda or any other terrorist groups.  They are evil people that must be either killed or brought to justice, whichever is more expedient.

You tried to play the extreme angle of "All Muslims just waiting to be terrorists".  Of course you know that wasn't my point.

If we act in a sufficiently immoral and craven manner we could get, not just Muslims, but the rest of the world to act against us violently.  I didn't realize this was a point that was in contention.

You kill a bunch of innocent civilians in Mecca for no other reason than retribution we have shown ourselves to be no better than those whom we fight.

I'm not going to comment on what you think about my willingness to kill people, because what I said before is still enough.

YOU are the one who claimed that an attack on Mecca would make all Muslims into Islamofascist terrorists, not I.

An attack on Mecca LEGITIMIZES the claims by the Islamoterrorists that the United States is at war with Islam.  By nuking Mecca we implicitly show that WE ARE AT WAR with Muslims since no one suggests that the terrorists reside in Mecca.

How this is an attempt to say that all Muslims are potential terrorists so they should be destroyed now is bizarre.  It is an argument that was used by the US Calvalry in the century when they were forced to handle Native American civilians.  

is in the general.  Nothing is universal.  Enough people WOULD become violent that it wouldn't much matter who did or did not.

Anyone could be a terrorist given the right circumstances.

If you'd like to take that back, given your new statement that "nothing is universal", I'd happily accept.

ONLY Sith deal in absolutes!

when you might bump into Job but when talking in generalities, such as referring to 6 billion people, I think it is reasonable to assume that the statement doesn't apply to ALL 6 billion people.

I never deal in absolutes.  If you inferred that meant EVERY SINGLE person then I apologize for not being clear.

I think it's "reasonable" to assume you believe what you write. But whatever, this particular debate isn't worth anyone's time.

But the notion that the best response to the use of a nuclear weapon (of whatever magnitude) against the United States is the destruction of Muslim holy sites, rather than, let's say, political, military or industrial targets, is just nutty.

...just because I haven't seen this mentioned here, Mecca is in Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud has been fairly cooperative with the U.S. and OBL himself has stated that their overthrow is one of his goals. Nuking Mecca would appear to be off the table. I mean...we're talking about people who blow themselves up here.

"I never deal in absolutes."

Um, that's an absolute.

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