Similar conclusions

Ry and I have talked about this type of thing until the wee hours of the morning many times. It always came down to destroying their culture or engaging in some really nasty stuff. It turns out we weren’t the only ones that came up with those conclusions. This is from 2003:

A Pew poll finds 40% of Americans worry that an US city will be destroyed by a terrorist nuclear attack. James Lileks thinks the annihilation of a city is a dead certainty and will only mark the start of a long, wearying struggle against Islamists armed with nuclear car bombs.

In stark contrast, the nuclear threshold against a terrorism may be crossed once they get the capability to attack with weapons of mass destruction. Unlike the old early warning systems, designed to gauge Soviet intent, the intelligence systems of the War on Terror are meant to measure capability. The relevant Cold War question was ‘do they intend to use the Bomb?’.  In the War on Terror, the relevant question is simply ‘do they have the Bomb?’ This puts the nuclear threshold very low.

This fixity of malice was recognized in President Bush’s West Point address in the summer of 2002, when he concluded that “deterrence — the promise of massive retaliation against nations — means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend.”

Because capability is the sole variable of interest in the war against terrorism, the greater the Islamic strike capability becomes, the stronger the response will be. An unrepeatable attack with a stolen WMD weapon would elicit a different response from one arising from a capability to strike on a sustained and repetitive basis. The riposte to an unrepeatable attack would be limited. However, suppose Pakistan or North Korea engineered a reliable plutonium weapon that could be built to one-point safety in any machine shop with a minimum of skill, giving Islamic terrorists the means to repeatedly attack America indefinitely. Under these circumstances, there would no incentive to retaliate proportionately. The WMD exchange would escalate uncontrollably until Islam was destroyed.

The so-called strengths of Islamic terrorism: fanatical intent; lack of a centralized leadership; absence of a final authority and cellular structure guarantee uncontrollable escalation once the nuclear threshold is crossed. Therefore the ‘rational’ American response to the initiation of terrorist WMD attack would be all out retaliation from the outset.

It is supremely ironic that the survival of the Islamic world should hinge on an American victory in the War on Terror, the last chance to prevent that terrible day in which all the decisions will have already been made for us. That effort really consists of two separate aspects: a campaign to destroy the locus of militant Islam and prevent their acquisition of WMDs; and an attempt to awaken the world to the urgency of the threat.

I wish Israel well in their efforts to exterminate radical Muslims from their neighborhood. It’s a start down the appropriate path. The alternate paths are far too uncomfortable for me.