The right has become effectively divided by the incendiary comments of Colorado Congressman, Tom Tancredo, essentially suggesting that the U.S. Nuke Islamic Holy sites in retaliation for any comparable Islamicist terrorist attack on an America city. In the midst of growing and converging waves of support and indignation, Tancredo took his case directly to the public in Sunday's Denver Post, defending sensibilities if not his initial suggestions,
...perhaps the civilized world must intensify its approach.
Does that mean the United States should be re-targeting its entire missile arsenal on Mecca today? Does it mean we ought to be sending Stealth bombers on runs over Medina? Clearly not.
But should we take any option or target off the table, regardless of the circumstances? Absolutely not, particularly if the mere discussion of an option or target may dissuade a fundamentalist Muslim extremist from strapping on a bomb-filled backpack, or if it might encourage "moderate" Muslims to do a better job cracking down on extremism in their ranks.
In expanded context, it is difficult to refute the Congressman's logic. 9/11 afterall could be said to be a direct result of tolerant pacifism taken to an extreme. For decades the West endured derision, violence and mass murder at the hands of Islamic fanatics. The response was impotent at best or nothing at all. The Clinton Administration in fact, personified both impotence and nothingness, effectively nurturing the plot of those savage attacks on September 11th that marked an insidious crescendo of ongoing savagery. 9/11 also marked the climax of terror's reign of fear by severing America's patience for its own blind stupidity once and for all. The righteously resolute have no fear. But, the enemy that we have finally started to engage, certainly did not begin it's assault on us with the attacks on 9/11; nor by temptation of the second invasion of Iraq, as has been continually and absurdly alleged by the hopelessly fearful Left. The Anchoress recently outlined a modern chain of Islamicist assaults on Western Civilization beginnning in 1972 with the Munich Olympics.
With that in mind, it becomes profoundly clear that any perceived weakness now will surely invite an ever more destructive response from the enemies of Man. Tancredo is both an American individual as well as a representative of the nation as a whole. He is expressing on the one hand, the frustration that is growing in the West with mainstream Islam for their relative silence of opposition to their own fanatic fringe. The 'Religion of Peace' has been quick to denounce defensive Western aggression, and very slow to recognize Islamicist insanity. The sound of their silence is beginning to be perceived as the applause of abject approval. Is it any wonder that many Americans cheer Tancredo's boisterous rhetorical recklessness? The President said at the beginning of this engagement, that if you are with 'Us' you are with the terrorists. Now perhaps, in Lucas' deluded fantasy, such absolute statements represent the thinking of scoundrels. But, in the face of the onslaught of a maniacle horde of butchers intent of cleansing Man from the face of the Earth, it is incumbent on Islam to embrace the side of Man against the Monsters. The choice between the two is theirs to make.... and time is running out.
Nevertheless, Tancredo is not simply a Representative of the People. He is a respresentative of this Nation... a dignitary on the world stage. His statements must be considered very carefully with respect to their impact on the situation as a whole. The Bush administration has been fighting a very careful surgical engagement by which Allied forces have attempted to sever the cancer of fanaticism from the organ of Islam. It is an extremely delicate procedure involving the cultivation of trust, a steady focus, and extreme patience. The metastacized pollips must be removed from the body of man bit by bit by bit... even while the village idiots of the Left scream for the procedure to end and the staus quo of death be resumed. The focus has remained fix. It must, because if trust is severed now, the organ will succomb to the cancer, and the entire body of Man will be engaged in a mortal struggle against itself for survival.
Before indulging brash threats regarding the use of Nuclear Weapons as a means of diplomacy, Congressman Tancredo and his supporters should reflect for a moment (or more) on the careful considerations that haunted the original team that was responsible for "The Bomb's" creation; those infamous members of the Manhattan Project.
Newsweek Magazine summarized an interesting recount concerning the selection of targets that is particularly relevant to this particular debate. Below is an excerpt.
The scientists working on the bomb at the Manhattan Project's top-secret laboratories in the New Mexico desert were confident that they could make a big bang - but they weren't sure how big. More cautious military planners argued that the bomb would have to be followed up by a raid of B-29's dropping incendiary bombs to guarantee a large conflagration. The planners did not think the bomb would be big enough to end the war in one blow.
Groves was determined to demonstrate the power of what he called "the gadget." But by the late spring of 1945 he was running out of good targets. Gen. Curtis LeMay of the 20th Air Force was methodically destroying the cities of Japan with numerous firebombing raids. During 10 days in March, 11,600 B-29 sorties had wiped out 32 square miles of the four largest Japanese cities, killing more than 150,000 people. A raid on Tokyo on May 25 created a gigantic firestorm; bomber crews in the last waves could smell burning flesh thousands of feet below. Reading the bomb-damage assessments, Groves worried that he would not be able to find a city sufficiently unsullied to serve as a proper showcase for his new terror weapon.
Hiroshima, a city of 280,000 people at the southern end of Honshu, the largest of the Japanese islands, was a possibility. According to a report prepared by Groves' staff, the city was surrounded by hills that would "produce a focusing effect which would considerably increase the blast damage." But, crisscrossed by rivers, Hiroshima was not the best candidate for a firestorm. A better target, Groves believed, was Kyoto. The ancient capital with its Buddhist and Shinto shrines, had been spared so far. Groves liked the fact that the city was an "intellectual center." The victims would be "more apt to appreciate the significance" of the bomb.
Such thinking seems ghoulish now, but it was not out of the mainstream in the spring of 1945. Bombing civilian centers was anathema at the beginning of the war, but after the London blitz and the day-and-night raids against Germany in 1943-44, city-bashing had become routine, accepted by a war-weary public. In its March 19, 1945 issue, Newsweek celebrated the fact that "perhaps one million persons were made homeless" by LeMay's firebombing of Tokyo. It seemed clear, after the kamikaze attacks and fights to the death in Okinawa and Iwo Jima, that breaking Japan's will would take drastic measures.
Still, the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, was disturbed by the firebombing of Japan. Stimson was an old-school gentleman, the unofficial chairman of the East Coast establishment. He was a warrior - at the age of 50, he had asked for a combat command in the first world war - but he believed in civilized war, with the rules of fair play. As secretary of state in the late 1920's, he had abolished America's code-breaking capability because "gentlemen do not open other gentlemen's mail." Now, as secretary of war, he thought that he had insisted on "precision" bombing, and he protested against the wholesale slaughter wreaked by General LeMay's bombing campaign.
Stimson was still stewing over the May 25th firebombing of Tokyo several days later when he called General Groves and demanded to know the target list for the A-bomb. Groves was balky about telling him. "On this matter, I am the kingpin," insisted Stimson. Groves grudgingly replied that the target was Kyoto. Stimson, who had visited the shrines decades before, said no. Smashing Japan's cultural center was wrong. It was akin to the Japanese targeting the Lincoln Memorial.
Stimson was haunted by the bomb, which in his diary he also called "the thing", "the dire", "the dreadful", "the terrible", and "the diabolical". The night after he ordered Groves not to bomb Kyoto, he was unable to sleep. In his diary, he wrote that the bomb "may destroy or perfect International Civilization." The weapon could be "a means for World Peace." Or, he wrote, it may be "Frankenstein". Stimson's ambivalence was the product of his background. As a Wall Street lawyer, he had tried to be ethical, refusing to represent seedy clients. But his real-world experience had also taught him that expediency was sometimes necessary. This mix of principle and calculation was blended into his strongly held view that the United States must be the single greatest power after the war... "
This account by Evan Thomas strikes me as far more conjectural than the raw history as represented in the correspondence and memoranda that have become the historical record of the project. Nevertheless, one can cleary ascertain the nature of the logic involved in Stimson's thinking. Kyoto would have indeed been a great target of emotional impact. For the Japanese Culture it was both supremely holy and profoundly significant, and its destruction would have represented collective psychological devastation... a certain indicator of hopelessness in their cause. It would have been complete destruction by humiliation.
And in the aftermath of such an abomination, there would have been no hope of ever reassembling the body of Mankind. Stimson knew that if the United States were going to emerge from this inevitable choice as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, it must be able to remain a monument of virtue in its own mind, in the eyes of it's friends, and in the hearts of its former enemies. The dividend of that choice today yielded a resolute friend where once there was an absolute enemy.
Stimson recognized that the power of "The Bomb" must not transform the men that deploy it into the purveyors of terror that they sought to destroy. Mr. Tancredo might do well to give history a bit more consideration when choosing between the emotions of men and the dignity of Man.