Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Are we serious that we are at war?

I've been reading Dafydd's post over at Captain's Quarters about Rep. Tancredo's suggestion that one option to think about if some islamo-jihadist detonated a nuclear bomb in the U.S. would be to nuke Mecca. Despite his flogging in the blogosphere, what Rep. Tancredo actually said was that nuking Mecca might be an option to consider. The general consensus is that nuking Mecca would be a tactical mistake. I agree - there is no military value to nuking Mecca and you obviously won't find many jihadi's hanging around there after they nuke us. But what about a strategic mistake?

The jihadis are already off the deep end - no threat at all, especially the threat of death, will deter them. They simply have to be hunted down and killed. How to do this most effectively is the primary question. They will not be deterred by nuking Mecca or a threat to nuke Mecca.

So, for the "nuke Mecca" argument to make any sense, the question is, will we persuade any moderate muslims to "take care of their own" by either threatening or actually nuking Mecca in response to a nuke explosion here in the U.S.? This is a strictly empirical question - but of course has no answer. We're all guessing. My guess is that it would not help motivate moderate muslims to stop jihadis, but would rather inflame them.

But back to Dafydd's post. Swede has an excellent comment:

"Don't misunderstand me. I don't want to nuke anyone. But if there is no nuclear option for us when struck first by such a device, as you say. Then tell me what viable options we have in such a scenario. To my knowledge, none of those critical of Tancredo's idea have offered any - including you."

Dafydd's only response is to escalate the conventional war. Which gets me to thinking, and which inspired me to write this post.

In a real war, enemy combatants (usually called "soldiers") can be killed indiscriminantly unless surrendering. If I, an American soldier in WWII, see a German in uniform, I can shoot him. No questions asked, no quarter taken, no warning, no regret and most importantly, no due process. This is possible because under the rules of warfare, enemy combatants are required to wear a uniform. I, while wearing my uniform, am empowered with the unilateral ability to kill the enemy on sight. "Spys" - i.e., enemy combatants caught out of uniform - can be summarily executed once their identity is discovered.

In this war, the enemy combatants do not wear uniforms. But nevertheless they do identify themselves. How do they do this? By what they say. Every imam who preached death to the infidels, every arab "street" mob member burning an American flag, Al-Jazeera, etc. have all "outted" themselves as on the side of the enemy. Are they "combatants" though? That depends on whether one thinks that propaganda, recruiting, indoctrination, etc. are part of the enemy's war making strategy. Of course they are. Just because back line supply troops aren't doing the front line shooting does not mean they are any less of a legitimate military target.

If we were serious about this being a war, we would institute policies that identify jihadis as enemy combatants using criteria other than uniforms, which criteria would include preaching propaganda designed to help the jihadi's win the war. Once we indentify these propaganda preachers we should do what we do to all enemy combatants - shoot the bastards dead on sight. (Unless they surrender, of course, and claim their free vacation at Club Gitmo.)


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