August 2, 2005

"The List"

On July 15th, 2005, Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo engaged in a radio interview wherein he brought the crux of the problem with the "War on Terror" into the mainstream of public discourse. Since that fateful day in September of 2001, Americans have been led far away from thinking about such things as life-and-death survival of our nation and its principles.

We're not shown the video of our countrymen, and men of virtually all western nations, throwing themselves from the roof of thousand-foot tall buildings to escape the flames. We're not encouraged to remember the months of clean up required at the WTC site and that virtually no human remains were found of the thousands of victims, having all been reduced to dust. We aren't supposed to feel the insecurity that comes from the fact that those responsible for this mass murder of free men are still alive and plotting ways to murder even more free men.

Then along comes a former Israeli counterterrorism expert who hypothesizes that the means for staging radiological or even atomic explosive attacks in multiple US cities are already within our borders, and that we have no leads on where they are or how to stop them. "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?" That's the question posed to Tancredo that touched off the "Tancredo says, nuke Mecca" kerfuffle.

The question we should ask is, alternatively, "Worst case scenario, if they do have these operations in place and they were to fly jetliners into the World Trade Towers and kill thousands of people, what would our response be?"

The point is that secular, rational, western civilization is under mortal attack by nihilistic medieval religious fanatics who despise life on earth and seek a perverted notion of life after death as their highest ideal. We should have no other response than to use any and every means available to us to help them reach their afterlife. Does this include nuclear weapons? Yes. Of course.

When a rabid animal comes to your farm and starts attacking and killing your livestock, with no sign of stopping, do you ignore your guns in the house and go after it with a hunting knife, or your bare hands, or send your children against it similarly equipped? Doing so is lunacy. One need not attempt it to have certain knowledge of that fact. You get the gun. You shoot the attacker. You bury its dead body in a hole.

If other rabid animals follow, and your efforts to kill them individually do not abate them, then you find out where they're coming from. You get as close as you can to the source until you can safely go no closer. Then if, perhaps, they all come from a specific section of forest where the conditions are ripe for breeding them, you burn down the forest. Bunnies and other innocent animals may die, but there is no other way to destroy the threat.

These are just analogies, and any card-carrying pragmatist can construct similar analogies that "prove" we should just build stronger fences and have fewer animals in the first place, but that fact does not infringe upon my right to live my life on my property as I choose.

Tom Tancredo merely opened the door, but the discussion lies on the other side. The topic for debate is not how to respond to murderous terrorists, but where. Leonard Peikoff explained where, and he did it on October 2, 2001 in his essay, "End States That Sponsor Terrorism."

"If one were under a Nazi aerial bombardment, it would be senseless to restrict oneself to combatting Nazi satellites while ignoring Germany and the ideological plague it was working to spread. What Germany was to Nazism in the 1940s, Iran is to terrorism today. Whatever else it does, therefore, the U.S. can put an end to the Jihad-mongers only by taking out Iran.

Eliminating Iran's terrorist sanctuaries and military capability is not enough. We must do the equivalent of de-Nazifying the country, by expelling every official and bringing down every branch of its government. This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended."

Regular commenter Silence Dogood remarked [third comment], "Does Tom further feel that the concept of deterrent will be successful against extremists, or that such threats will provide the power to the people required to topple or change governments such that an Islamic uprising within the ranks will quell the terrorist menace? If he really expects his remarks not to be taken as throw away rhetoric then he needs to stand up with a real thought out plan."

Perhaps deterrent will have no effect upon Iranian Mullahs, but the destruction of their regime will certainly have a deterrent effect upon their surviving minions. You asked for a thought out plan. Here is that plan: America creates The List of targets for the largest of our nuclear ICBMs. This is no secret list, but is printed in bold text for all the world to see. Target #1 on the list is Iran's most valuable atomic development site. Then the rest of them, followed by Lebanon's Bekka Valley, and then other terrorist strongholds in Syria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. We inform the world that failure to disarm and imprison terrorist forces within sovereign nations will grant us blanket authority to attack targets within that nation. Then we unilaterally destroy target #1.

What happens after that depends largely upon the choices of others but, either way, the United States and the rest of the free world will be protected from destruction. It's time to start drafting "The List."

War on Terror Posted by JohnGalt at August 2, 2005 3:07 PM

As usual, we agree on much. Not airing the 9-11 video is a tragedy -- and more importantly -- a serious tactical error. America cannot lose this war militarily, but without sufficient support at home, all current progress is at risk. Disturbing people with those images is a good place to start.

RE your defense of Rep. Tancredo: I'll be the first to admit that he does not get the benefit of the doubt from me. At best, I differ with the man on economics and politics; at worst I think he is willing to damage the party because he enjoys showboating.

The man is gifted with a tin ear. He lurched into the national spotlight when he thought that an immigrant honor student and class valedictorian was a good target for a new round of deportations. Nuking Mecca and Medina should simply not be said. If it was overblown or repeated out of context that's too bad; he should not supply his enemies with that kind of ammunition.

Dr. Peikoff occupies a cell in my heart adjacent to Rep Tancredo. Perhaps we do have a philosophical right to nuke Iran, it's a non-starter. We're not beginning to use the strength of our conventional forces, losing brave soldiers everyday so that we can fight a "nice war."

A party that called for a tactical nuclear strike against another nation with clear provocation would be swept out of power. You may think that's wrong but it is an aspect of democracy. And as Sharansky has stated, peacefulness is one of the great advantages to democracy.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2005 5:05 PM

That's a plan? What pray tell is the objective of this plan? Do you expect the terrorist groups to capitulate and disband? You are still stuck on the concept of strikes against geographic targets. This list of targets includes terrorist training camps? If so, it will be updated daily with the new coordinates as these groups move? We are fighting small loosely connected cells of terrorists across multiple state borders. Suggesting nuclear war against such groups is akin to swatting flies with a shotgun.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 3, 2005 6:35 PM

JK, I'll have to reply to what I think you MEANT to write.

Intentionally overlooking your character assassinations of Tancredo and Peikoff, you said that advocation of a nuclear strike against another nation WITHOUT clear provocation would not be a popular strategy. I agree. However, we HAVE been provoked, hence my use of the word "response" in my post. How much more provocation do you suggest the American public needs? But to the extent what you say is true, it is merely proof of what we agree upon in your first paragraph: We cannot lose militarily, only morally.

You also said, I think, that we're not losing brave soldiers every day so that we can fight a "nice war." But that's EXACTLY what we're doing! Even Fallujah, the epitome of a terror swamp, was not leveled. Brave marines went door-to-door. True, individual buildings were leveled, but not until after our marines were fired upon and the target determined to be impenetrable without artillery. The lives of our soldiers are worth far more than the "innocent" civilians these murderers hide behind. If they weren't an all-volunteer force then ordering them to do what they do would be breathtakingly immoral. As it is, it's a balancing act between our troops welfare and best interests vs. "international opinion." It is only because our soldiers are so capable and effective that we can begin to afford to conduct the war in this way.

The objective of this plan is not to persuade terrorists and their leaders to become rational. Such would be impossible. The objective is to persuade the various governments of the states who give them safe harbor that they have more to fear from the most powerful nation on earth than from a few handfuls of two-bit fascist thugs. They can pursue the terrorists on their soil with flyswatters, hand-to-hand, or we will pursue them with nuclear weapons from a safe distance. Either the state ends its sponsorship of terror or we will end the state.

If we don't do this now, then when? AFTER radiological attacks on US cities? Do you really expect the terrorist groups to capitulate and disband because we FAILED to direct our full might and determination toward their destruction?

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 3:27 PM

I think you misread my "nice war" stance: I fully agree that we are losing our bravest in attempts to be nice. Not returning fire at a Mosque is the best example. We agree that that has gone too far.

And we agree that the outrageous superiority of our troops -- and the substantial arsenal of freedom -- allow this peculiar dance.

And we seem to both support a more muscular approach to the Bush Doctrine with conventional arms.

I would NOT, however, agree that a nuclear strike on a civilian area would be an appropriate response to a terrorist attack. And I say that an attack on Mecca or Medina is completely off the table. As such, I find it irresponsible to discuss it.

I, therefore, think it irresponsible and counter-productive that Dr. Piekoff and Rep. Tancredo bring this up. Sorry if I have been unfair to either, I will admit that I find little common ground with either of them, which is odd because I consider myself a Republican and a devotee of Ayn Rand. Yet I never see either of these people representing my views.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2005 8:19 PM

Fair enough JK. Other than the visceral value of blowing up the religious shrines of these "nihilistic medieval religious fanatics" destroying them would possibly do more harm than good. I would appreciate your input into the targets that rightfully belong on "The List." I started with Iranian nuclear development sites, clearly NOT civilian targets, and terrorist camps beginning with the Bekka valley.

As for whether to use nuclear or conventional explosives, let the generals decide but give them explicit directive that the targets are to be COMPLETELY destroyed.

One final criticism however: Whenever you say that any of the enemy's targets are "completely off the table" then you've begun to surrender.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 10:48 PM | What do you think? [5]