Monday, July 18, 2005

The Wind Blows Very Hard

Ed Morrisey at Captain's Quarters is in quite a lather today:

We have enough problems fighting the war on terror in the measured, strategic method used by the Bush and Blair administrations without Republican Congressmen recommending the bombing of sites held sacred by Muslims across the political spectrum. Yet today, Tom Tancredo (R-CO) suggested that a nuclear attack on an American city could result in a bombing run on Mecca.

Tancredo was asked how the United States should react if several cities were hit with nuclear weapons by extremist Islamists. Tancredo answered:

"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," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

Ed Morrisey says:

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.

What Ed Morrisey is saying here sounds very noble and measured. But, let's face it, what he is saying is that if the United States is hit with nuclear weapons in several cities, and millions of innocent people die, and millions more are effected for the rest of their lives by the winds of radioactive fallout, and our economy takes a hit 100-1000 times greater than the hit we took from 9/11, that we should retaliate with restraint that seems beyond turning the other cheek.

I mean, for God's sake, look at how Morrisey thinks we should react to being hit with multiple nuclear weapons:

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.

Jeez, maybe we could take out the Mecca Cola factories too, while we're at it.

Remember all that talk after 9/11 about how Bin Laden believes that America is too weak and decadent to respond to an attack? Well, if nothing else has served to convince the Islamofascists that we are not serious, a response like Morrisey suggests surely would.

Morrisey makes one good point. He comments:

... 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 ...

Yes, that's true. And that's why Tancredo probably should have recused himself. But, in my opinion, Morrisey is off base as well, although perhaps not in as offensive a manner.

Does Morrisey discount the strategy that helped us win the Cold War, Deterrence through Mutually Assured Destruction? A policy that held the Soviet Union, and the United States for that matter, at bay for forty years is not a policy to be scoffed at with a simple phrase like "should be repulsive to any rational person."

I will ask in turn, who is Morrisey to make these judgements anyway?

The truth is, our government has probably issued threats of this nature behind the scenes. For myself, I will only say, I have no idea what to do in such a situation, and I'm glad I am not the one who would have to make such a decision. But, how will we deter a country like Iran from giving nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations, if we do not issue such threats? How would we deter Saudi Arabia from funding such an operation?

Come on, Mr. Morrisey, you need to think this through a little further. Or maybe you should just recuse yourself.