Nuking Mecca

Yesterday’s post about Tom Tancredo’s remarks provoked a lot of unexpected argument in the comments, with some excellent contributions by a number of people. To clarify my position, here is the text of an email I sent to Pastorius last night:

I think we only disagree on emphasis and timing, and not on substance. My position is that a sword should remained sheathed until time to use it.
And my main objection is to the idea that we would destroy Mecca because some subset of Islam attacked us. Until we know for certain that all of Islam is lined up against us, that is morally indefensible. And, since one of the features of this war is our enemy’s total lack of what we consider morality, it is important that we always act morally.
That said, if we do end up fighting all of Islam, and the imams of Saudi Arabia declare against us, and jihadis set off nukes in a dozen of our cities, then a reasonable and appropriate response would be the destruction of Mecca. Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it would shorten the war.
Then, for the rest of time, we would be blamed for our awful deed, but so what? It would be the right thing to do at that point.
But revealing this card now is a bad idea. We are not at that time yet, and with God’s grace we may never get there.
As the Tao te Ching says, “A country’s weapons should not be displayed.”

— Baron B.

This can be a jumping-off point for further argument, if anyone feels so inclined.

35 thoughts on “Nuking Mecca

  1. My concern is that too little discussion of possible retaliation will only bear out the already entrenched Islamist opinion of the west as being “weak”.

    They know we possess the capability, but doubt we possess the will to use it.

    Surely subtle deterrence in some form can be applied along with more conventional means of terrorist prevention.

  2. I don’t agree. One of the lamentable features of the Clinton administration was to threaten dire response, and then follow through with pinpricks. That’s what gave al Qaeda the idea. Threatening does not convince them of anything; only action does.

    The threat should be limited to words like this: “We will defend ourselves using all means at our disposal.” Fortunately, that’s more or less what the Administration does say.

  3. They know we possess the capability, but doubt we possess the will to use it.

    They thought that about us after 9/11 and nothing has been the same for bin Laden since…I’m not sure they would make the same miscalculation again.

    The danger may be that this is a headless chicken — many headless chickens — and that they will create a number of disconnected, small-potatoes incidents. Which London was, as was 3/11 in Madrid, which killed 200 people.

    What they haven’t done for anyone but the US is get their overwhelming attention. When that happens, then all bets are off. And if the repeat is here, nuclear or not, all bets are also off.

    If the destructive evil strikes here again, and with the same force or greater, there will be more changes of heart, as there were that day: a lot of post-9/11 militarists were created in the wake of that event.

    We have established our will and our will is changing the territory.

  4. The Baron seems to think it best to keep silent about the inevitable. “…It may happen someday. But we shouldn’t talk about it until it becomes absolutely necessary. Speak softly…”

    In my comment yesterday I alluded to “Extrodinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.” This is an old book but one which I believe all educated individuals should read.

    It deals with the “psyche” of human beings when they are aggregated and the apparent inability of the enmassed individual to think clearly and RATIONALLY. There is in man something which prevents him from acting independantly from the group even when the group to which he adheres may be on a suicide mission.

    For example we have all seen the riots after sporting events, the mayhem, the looting, etc., and not a one of us would say ALL the people believe in what they are doing. Yet ALL the people in the crowd are participating in one form or another. So it is with Muslims. All do not like the terroist-killings yet ALL are participating – by the very act of refusing to act. They are psychologically trapped in a brainwashed spiral of violence.

    Just as riot police use the shock of phalanxes of S.W.A.T. teamed police, water canons and massive amounts of teargas to awaken rioters from the grip of their “madness,” the United States at some point will have to shock the Muslim world into the reality of the 21st century.

    Not to prophecy of the inevitable retribution is as insane as the madness being perpetrated. Religions are replete with God(s) warning the masses of what’s coming – shouldn’t they be our example? They are, after all, our earliest examples of goup-think. To strike unannounced is just another form of terrorism.

  5. Nuking Mecca is obviously the wrong thing to do under the vast majority of circumstances.  Not only would it declare war against an entire religion, it would make a dirty mess in a region where we do have at least one good friend.

    No, the appropriate thing to do is to drop a small asteroid on Mecca.  No radioactive mess, and the pure psychological shock of the heavens delivering death and destruction in Biblical quantities to the home of Wahhabism would shred the ideology of bin Laden and his associates in the blast.

    It would also make N. Korea a lot more cooperative, so it would be a two-fer.

  6. I agree with you that we should keep our weapons hidden. However, I think the spirit of the Tao would also advise that our reputations should be the empty canyons forged by the water which has poured forth from our lives, or something of that nature.

    We have have a track record of fighting back, but I think we need to maintain it. The policy of deterrence through MAD needs to be maintained even with the Islamofascists.


  7. I think that our unwillingness to officially admit the War on Terror is about religion only assures we will continue to be victims of religiously motivated attacks until we finally do.

    Attacking / overthrowing the governments in the region does nothing for our future security. The governments in the region are not a threat to us…its their citizens that they cant control. They are more afraid of our true enemy than they are us.

    In every past foreign war the United States has been involved in we have waged war on the sometimes pretentious assumption that the political leaders were our enemies and that the average citizen in those nations were not the cause of war.

    But in this case…America first Holy War….it is just the opposite. The governments in the region can not stop a portion of their citizens from attacking us based on their interpretation of their religious duty, in some cases because the leaders share their religious ideology, but not in all cases.

    So by us falsely applying our past experience in political wars to this one our attackers are able to hide behind the sovereignty of political entities that are themselves not our enemies, and thats a key strategy in our true enemies plan. He has forged a defensive weapon out of consciouses.

    Those governments are not capable of addressing the sources of terrorism because to large a percentage of the populaces sympathize with the goals of terrorism.

    I dont cherish the thought of attacking Islam in the sanctuaries that terrorism is planned and justified in, I just see no other viable alternative long-term solution. We can overthrow every government in the region and replace it with a Democracy but that wont change the hatred for the infidels that the populations harbor in the hearts and minds. And despite all the evidence in front of them they refuse to accept that their stagnation is self-inflected….and thats never going to cahnge.

    To me it boils down to either we are going to have to live under a constant level of attack in perpetuity, or we are going to have to start attacking the sources of religious hatred directly. And Mecca is but one legitimate target when we finally have the courage to point our finger at our true enemy.

    I wish it was not true. I wish there was something else we could do to stop them from attacking us. I guess as long as the holy war stays conventional our thinking will to. But when we start losing major cities and we have no more government entity to direct our responses towards…..we will have to choose which fork in our path to take…surrender or victory, and victory will be uglier this time than it ever has before.

  8. right around here — “To strike unannounced is just another form of terrorism.”

    I don’t advocate striking unannounced. I simply assert that the time has not come for announcing such drastic action.

  9. Set aside for the moment the question of whether Mecca is a legitimate target for obliteration. Is it a useful one? I argued some time ago that losing Mecca wouldn’t seriously dent Islam itself–workarounds are too easy. And of course, the US would become enshrined as Satan in mainstream theology from then on, which would be a continuing problem so long as there were Moslems and Americans left in the world.
    Compare the results of obliteration with those of capturing the sites. We still get the Moslems furious with us as we keep the sites as hostages. When/if we returned the sites, they’d carry grudges for a long time but it wouldn’t be enshrined in the theology.
    I don’t think we have any good shortcuts: if the war becomes Islam against everybody instead of sect-of-Islam against everybody, we’ve got a long and ugly slog ahead of us as we try to suppress it everywhere we go.

  10. Redneck — “I think that our unwillingness to officially admit the War on Terror is about religion only assures we will continue to be victims of religiously motivated attacks until we finally do.”

    I completely agree. As I have often said, we need to publicly acknowledge that the war is a religious one, because the enemy has decided that it is a religious war. We have no choice.

    Unfortunately, popular culture, the control of the MSM by the Left, and the general head-in-the-sand attitude of our elected leaders keep us mired in the Official Version: “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with Terror.” Hogwash. We are at the very least at war with a substantial subset of Islam. And at may turn out eventually that we are fighting the whole enchilada.

    But not yet.

  11. A dozen cities?

    A dozen cities?

    Are you saying that if New York, Chicago, LA, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Houston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia were attacked by nukes the proper response would be to nuke one holy site?

    How about Riyadh, Mecca, Jeddah, Karachi, Lahore, Teheran, Cairo, Aleppo, and the razing by conventional weapons of every mosque throughout the world?

    That would be measured enough.

  12. As Talleyrand said, it would be worse than a crime, it would be a mistake. To the extent that it has any tactical significance whatsoever it would tend to mobilize public opinion against us both here and elsewhere.

  13. I was not part of yesterday’s discussion, but want to weigh in on this one: I agree that we are in a religious war. However, it is also an information war, and it is not yet a total war of Islam against Judeo-Christianity (with animus toward Hinduism, and every other infidel religion as well). I beleive the people in charge of our foreign policy recognize this and are doing many things in order to minimize the risk of all-out war.
    In order for al Qaeda to obtain nukes, they must have the support of a state structure (if they had the mythical suitcase nukes in hand, they would have used them; nukes need a tremendous amount of upkeep/proper storage, to make sure they work properly and for a non-state actor its “use ’em or lose ’em.”) Right now, my guess is that we have something on the order of less than 1,000,000 actual combatant (terrorist) enemies available. That assumes 0.1% of Islam is ready, willing, and able to take up arms against us. They probably have somewhere on the order of 10-20% of sympathizers. If al Qaeda, with the help of the media, is able to make this into a “clash of civilizations”, those numbers escalate rapidly.
    We can probably win an all-out war with Islam, but do we really want to nuke multiple cities and kill upwards of 100 million people?
    Right now, the Iraqi people are turning against the jihadists (take a look at Winds of Change for their great coverage.) Iraq is ultimately likely to be an ally in the war, with Shia and Sunni (eventually) on the side of civilization.
    Threatening to nuke Mecca (let alone actually doing it) would be the best way to convince the undecided that we are, in fact, involved in a war against Islam.
    To my mind, the best analogy is to WWII. Islam is where Nazism was in the early 1930’s. They control no states, have minimal capability to wage war, and are alienating many of the people who should be supporting them. By fighting Nazism in 1932, we could have destroyed them relatively painlessly, without having to engage the entire German population.
    Obviously, if they nuke an American city (or an ally’s city) we will have to take the gloves off (which doesn’t mean nuking Mecca; we can destroy Syria and Iran’s ability to function as a state by using conventional weapons).
    Tancredo’s statement, just as Durbin’s idiocy, the New York Time’s abu Graib fetish, etc, are weapons for al Qaeda, and do nothing to mjinimize the risk of disaster.

  14. ShrinkWrapped — thanks for your eloquence and clarity on this topic. I think you (and Hugh Hewitt) are right. Announcing such things at this point is counterproductive and dangerous. If the situation becomes bad enough to warrant it, there will be time enough then.

  15. Someone commented that we should nuke Mecca if Saudi Arabia nuked us first, huh? Since when do the Saud’s have nuclear weapons?

    Should such a time come that we must retaliate with a complete, Mutually Assured Destruction, then so be it. But know one has answered the fundamental question, what tangible effect would nuking a rock have on our enemies. Kill them, kill them all, 1.2 billion if necessary, but please let us not trifle with symbols. Or as James suggests, capture it.

    To declare war on radical Islam is a good thing, to declare war on Islam is not a good thing. Why engage and enrage the 90% who have not committed to this fight?

    Redneck Texan, I think your argument holds in KSA, Yemen, and others, but breaks down in Iran, Syria, and others. In Iran, the government is our enemy, the people, less so.

    The problem of declaring this a “Holy” war is that it immediately pits against an extra billion or so people and, worse of all its pits us against Western agnostics and atheists as well.

    Shrinkwrapped said better what I just muddled through. Disregard all of the above.

  16. To have US politicos state publicly that there will be MASSIVE retaliation if the US is attacked is a very good thing.
    It would not hurt to have Mohammaned civilians practicing the ‘duck and cover’.
    This war must begin to ‘worry’ their native populations before we make much progress on moderating their behaviour

  17. “In Iran, the government is our enemy, the people, less so.”

    The same would have been said about Iraq, no? Let’s not make the same mistake twice.


  18. We need to motivate the 70% that shrinkwrap refers to and get them interested. Their populations are not monolithic, anti war pressure amongst the sane Mohammandens can fracture the base.

  19. I said something similar to you on my blog. Right now we’re trying to coopt the Muslim world, and in those circumstances, it isn’t helpful. If we have to coersce them, all bets are off.

    I don’t know about Mecca, however. It seems unecessarily inflammatory. I think we’d hit a regime, not some holy city in the middle of nowhere. It won’t hurt Islam, the religious can rationalize near anything. Hitting Damascus, or even army bases would shock the people and enemy governments just the same.

  20. rightaroundhere talks about the book the Madness of Crowds. He may be he who mentioned it on Belmont some time ago…I got it and recommend that people look at it.

    I agree on one level: we do not strike unilaterally with no warning. But the scenarios re *what* we do should be (and are being) discussed by the people we elect and those they appoint.

    In the meantime, wars and rumors of wars make people think about the chances of being on that bus or in that subway or the building, or the street, or the restaurant…it is merely human to wonder “if” and then to ask “when.”

    You are right about groups, though. Group thinking is different, qualitatively, than the individual reflecting on his fate and his response…

    As an indivdual, I often think of those Jews in the early ’30’s, the successful businessmen, the academics, the families that had lived in Germany for many, many generations. Did they wake with thudding hearts are 3 am? Did their rabbis tell them not to worry about foolishness? And I wonder if I would have been on the boat out, having to leave all my wordly possessions, or several years later on the railroad car in, having to leave them all my possessions anyway.

    We live in very changeable times, friends.

  21. Somewhat uneasy with my own dismissal of the absence of “moderate Muslims” in my comments to the “Tancredo Option” post, I spent some time today doing what I should have done before commenting. Most notably I rediscovered a consistent theme presented by Daniel Pipes which distinguishes between the “Islamists” or “Islamofascists” and the voices of moderation within Islam, many of whom are identified in Pipe’s articles over the last three years. I encourage all readers and commenters who’re not familiar with his contributions to do a quick Google search for “Daniel Pipes” and moderate + Muslim + Islamist. Interestingly, the debate over proper terms to address the present conflict had identified the need to clarify it as a war on Islamofascists, not war on terror as early as 2002 and perhaps prior to 9/11.

    I make a qualified withdrawal of my epithet of last night regarding the apparent lack of moderate Muslims where I said “screw ’em”. There are many brave voices within Islam pleading for reason who need support and encouragement. We must be guarded, however, to distinguish between the voices within the Islamic community who wish coexistence within a sturcture of secular states, vs those who simply would eschew the extreme measures of the Jihaddis, bin Ladens, and terrorists, but who would still pursue the Ummah with its ultimate replacement of our system of laws with the Shari’a.

    Sadly, I still sense the voices of reason are vastly outnumbered by the hordes who fit the descriptions in “The Madness of Crowds”.1

  22. Any doubt as to the belligerent intentions of “all the muslims” can be dispelled by reading the Qu’ran & hadith. After all, these are the sources used by the terrorists to justify the jihad.

  23. I see the necessity for harsh and decisive action, action that goes outside the bounds of traditional responses and considerations given the nature of the enemy we face today. Nuking makah would provide no tactical benefit, sort of like shooting into the ground by the feet of an enemy. I don’t suscribe to the notion that regressing and acting as they act would then necessarily keep us in such collective, retrograded status. It is like saying if we break the rules we will never be able to again play by the rules. More often than not, hesitancy in lethal situations gets people killed.

  24. Baron – Unfortunately, popular culture, the control of the MSM by the Left, and the general head-in-the-sand attitude of our elected leaders keep us mired in the Official Version: “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with Terror.” Hogwash.
    I agree that the leftist notion of showing infinite tolerance where none is deserved plays a major role in why we cant officially come to grips with who we are at war with….but my journeys through the blogosphere have shown that many Conservative war-supporting Christians refuse to accept the idea that we are at war with a religious ideology.

    While a billion Islamic children were being raised to blame all their cultural shortcomings and failures on the Zionists and other infidels most American children were taught that Religion as a whole is an unquestionable vessel for the forces of good, and while adherents to other religions may be misguided, the fact that they were religiously devote was admirable and seen only in its most positive form. And of course one of the founding principles of our Government is religious freedom and tolerance. But our founders intended mainly to protect adherents from Government abuse, not to protect our society as a whole from the abuse of a foreign religious ideology that incorporates the necessity of our destruction into its doctrine. Our founding fathers never foresaw a day where adherents of another religion on the other side of the planet would be able to fulfill their religious duty by easily coming here and destroying American cities in the name of their God. Thus our Constitution and sense of fairness will not allow us to distinguish between good religion and bad.

    I bring it up now because I posted an article the other day about how the historically overly-tolerant Dutch are now considering a law that would force mandatory video monitoring of all their Iman’s sermons in an effort to verify which ones if any are spreading a doctrine of violence. Which I thought was an excellent idea. Islam has, in my opinion based on the fact that virtually all international terrorism is performed by Muslims who claim they are doing their religious duty, lost its privilege of privacy in our society. But it was the Conservative Christians on that thread that were the most adamantly opposed to monitoring of the Iman’s Sermons. They refuse to allow government scrutiny of a particular religion for fear of having theirs monitored as well and our Constitution and our concept of fairness will not allow us to distinguish and single out the bad from the good. That fact of our character is another key weakness targeted in our enemies strategy. They get to use their Mosques as bunkers, ammo dumps, and propaganda vessels while we drive by on the street, they are laughing their ass off that we have imposed rules of engagement upon ourselves that allow them many places to safely rest up between attacks on us.

    I am also starting to think that they have studied our patterns of response so well that they knew that attacking us would force us to overthrow the dictators in the region and install a democratic form government there that would give elected legitimacy to their terrorist sympathizing brothers. Hamas and Hezbollah have profited more than anyone from democratic elections in Palestine and Lebanon.

    But getting back to the Good Muslim / Bad Muslim thing. It may very well be true that the majority of the worlds 1 billion Muslims are good people that harbor no intentions of spilling Infidel blood, but in the big picture, if they are unwilling or incapable of stopping their Islamic brethren from attacking us then they are irrelevant in the global cultural struggle. Right now they are nothing more than camouflage for our enemies to hide behind. And if your in charge of crowd control and some people in the crowd are shooting at you, you may at first look hard for where the shots are coming from so your return fire does not injure any innocent ones, but when half of your buddies have been shot and you have no place to retreat to, you are going to take out the entire crowd to assure you get the bad ones. The same logic will apply after the first major non-conventional attack on our homeland. We will have to make a hard choice between sacrificing the so-called innocent Muslims or sacrificing more American cities, and that basically was what Tancredo was asked to do when he was asked how would we respond….he thought of his innocent children and decided they were more valuable many the innocent Muslims that call Mecca holy ground.

  25. Redneck, your comments are timely, given the news reports that the ACLU is targeting the Boy Scouts again. They want to stop the Pentagon from helping BSA because the Scouts believe in God.

    Here in America, in the sanctuary of their mosques, imams are preaching the violent overthrow of our government, the subjugation of women, and the killing of infidels. And the ACLU is going after the Boy Scouts! I guess because the Scouts won’t respond with fatwas and suicide bombs…

  26. I see the freedom fighter/insurgents in London have caused a “very serious incident”, again. It’s good to know the fanatics have resorted to incidents rather than terrorism. See? Muliticulturalism is working.

  27. I don’t understand the position that nuking Mecca would shorten a war with Islam in general (even assuming that there was a universal uprising of Islam agains the west). The world’s great religions have historically grown and thrived under oppression, becoming stronger in their conviction rather than weaker. Christianity itself is a prime example.

  28. That would be the beauty of hitting Mecca with an asteroid:  it would look like Allah’s displeasure with the Umma.

    I’m assuming that any effort to redirect some suitable chunk of stone and nickel-iron would be done on the quiet and with full plausible deniability.  The inevitable conspiracy theories would run into some serious mental quagmires, e.g. either Allah was so displeased with the Wahhabi imams that he destroyed Mecca in his wrath, or the Great Satan is more powerful in the heavens than Allah himself.  Either way, religious dynamite directed at the core of the belief system.

  29. “That would be the beauty of hitting Mecca with an asteroid: it would look like Allah’s displeasure with the Umma.

    I’m assuming that any effort to redirect some suitable chunk of stone and nickel-iron would be done on the quiet and with full plausible deniability. The inevitable conspiracy theories would run into some serious mental quagmires, e.g. either Allah was so displeased with the Wahhabi imams that he destroyed Mecca in his wrath, or the Great Satan is more powerful in the heavens than Allah himself. Either way, religious dynamite directed at the core of the belief system.”

    Wishful thinking imo. They aren’t going to suddenly decide that Allah’s mad that them and stop fighting the Israelis, or Russians, or Indians, or us. Each of those conflicts will still going on, motivated by selfishness and hatred as much as by religion. And there is no chance that 1 billion Muslims are suddenly going to throw away decades of religious indoctrination and decide that because their idol was destroyed, everything was a fraud. No, we’ll be the Great Satan 10 times over for defying Allah.

  30. When defeated in some battle, the Islamists take it as a personal failing.  Nothing happens without Allah willing it, so if they were sufficiently faithful they would have succeeded or the enemy would have failed.

    They place enormous stock in symbols.  Why attack the twin towers?  Not because they were big economic or military targets, but because they symbolized power and wealth.

    Reconsider the impact of the replacement of the Grand Mosque and everything around it with a crater in the light of how it would be perceived.  It would devastate exactly the sort of mindset which saw great things in 9/11.

    Better yet, any reconsideration of the meaning of the event would mean a wrenching re-evaluation of the importance of symbols.  The old model would be broken, allowing room for new ones.  Such an obvious failure of the system of the past would weaken its hold, allowing its destruction or at least some reform.

    Given enough of a kick, Muslims will start thinking about reform.  In’shallah.

  31. Nuking mecca does not make any sense. Mecca doesn’t have Weapons of mass destruction. Mecca doesn’t hurt anybody. The real focus should be on nuking pakistan. Nuking pakistan will definitely solve a lot of problems. pakistan has atom bomb (as they claim) and is also a hot-bed of Islamic terrorism a very terrible situation. pakistan created Taliban and ruled Afghanistan by proxy and Taliban in turn hosted Al-Qaeda and Osama bin laden. The so-called Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan stole nuclear secrets from Eurpoean labs where he used to work. He has now sold these technolgies to Iran and other Islamic countries. If it was justified to invade Iraq on the basis of suspected presence of WMDs. Then it is more than a 1000 times more justified to nuke pakistan or at least invade.
    1) pakistan has confirmed WMDs.
    2) pakistan is sharing nuclear secrets with Islamic countries and North Korea.
    3) pakistanis have been indulging in terrorist activities around the world In US the first bombing of WTC was carried out by a pakistani, in Kashmir- India, In suicide bombing of London underground trains. Recently in Egypt – Sharm-al-Sheik.
    4) Mohhamed Atta the manin accused in 9/11 was helped by pakistani ISI.
    5) pakistan is running training camps for islamic terrorists coming from all over the world.
    6) pakistan is actually hiding Osama-bin-laden wheras the American think that pakistan is helping them in finding him. Why .. because as long as Osama’s search continues pakistan can continue to milk Uncle Sam.

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