Monday, February 13, 2006

And The
Nuclear Option

Last year, Congressman Tom Tancredo answered a question put to him on a radio show. The question was, if the United States is attacked by terrorists, with multiple nuclear weapons, in multiple cities, should we retaliate with nuclear weapons against the states suspected of harboring the terrorists.

Congressman Tancredo's response was that we ought to consider nuking Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

For this statement, he was roundly chastised by, among others, Hugh Hewitt and Captain Ed Morrissey.I've never been able to figure out why, considering nuking Mecca, being that it is just one city, would be a moderate approach compared to the "just war" tactic of turning an equivalent amount of cities to dust.

Eyes All Around wrote to Congressman Tancredo and received this response:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding my comments regarding how best to deter future terrorist attacks. I appreciate you taking the time to write to me. Without question, my comments have prompted strong reactions from many quarters, but they have also served to start a national dialogue about what options we have to deter al-Qaeda and other would-be Islamic terrorists.

Many critics of my statements have characterized them as “offensive,” and indeed they may have offended some. But in this battle against fundamentalist Islam, I am hardly preoccupied with political correctness, or who may or may not be offended. Indeed, al-Qaeda cares little if the Western world is “offended” by televised images of hostages beheaded in Iraq, subway bombings in London, train attacks in Madrid, or Americans jumping to their death from the Twin Towers as they collapsed.

Few can argue that our current approach to this war has deterred fundamentalists from killing Westerners – nor has it prompted moderate Muslims and leaders of Muslim countries to do what is necessary to crack down on the extremists in their midst who perpetuate these grisly crimes.

People have accused me of creating more terrorism by making these statements. Indeed, we often hear that Western governments bring these attacks on themselves. Just days after the London subway attacks two weeks ago, for example, Tariq Ali, a prominent British Muslim activist, was quick to suggest that London residents “paid the price” for British support in the Iraq campaign. A professor in Lebanon, Dr. George Hajjar, went even further, proclaiming, “I hope that every patriotic and Islamic Arab will participate in this war, and will shift the war not only to America, but to… wherever America may be.” Hajjar went on to say that “there are no innocent people,” and referred to the victims of the attack as “collateral casualties.”

While I realize that some people around the world may be offended by my comments, I do not believe that the U.S. should take any option or target off the table, regardless of the circumstances. It is my hope that my comments may help to dissuade fundamentalist Muslims extremists from planning or carrying out terrorist attacks against the Western world.

The aforementioned statements by the influential Muslim leaders I outlined above are fairly “offensive” statements, to be sure. Unfortunately, however, the kinds of sentiments expressed by Ali and Hajjar are sadly commonplace in the Muslim world, where justification for terrorist attacks like the ones that rocked London, New York and Washington is never in short supply.

Fundamentalist Muslims have advocated the destruction of the West since long before the attacks of Sept. 11, long before the Madrid, London and Bali attacks, long before the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, long before the attack on the USS Cole and the 19093 WTC bombing. In many respects, the decision of the Islamic world to acquiesce to these actions and even provide tacit justification for them is just as damaging to global safety and security as the attacks themselves.

Until Islam can bring itself to stop rationalizing terrorist attacks and start repudiating and purging people like Ali and Hajjar from its ranks who do, this war will continue. And as long as this war goes on, being “offended” should be the least of anyone’s worries.

Tancredo may well be the President of the United States one of these days. But, he's going to need a better photo.