American Hiroshima: Can it be deterred?
Recently, Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado was asked during a radio interview about ways to prevent the terrorists from exploding nuclear weapons within the continental United States. The questions were hypothetical, the nature of which ordinary elected officials refuse to answer or about which they refuse to speculate. But Tom Tancredo is no ordinary politician. In fact, Congressman Tancredo is extraordinary.
For those who read Dr. Henry A. Kissinger’s Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy back in 1952 or Herman Kahn’s Thinking About the Unthinkable in 1962, the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) is an old, but still vital, concept. In short, MAD is like putting two scorpions in a bottle. As long as each scorpion stays at its end of the bottle, nothing happens. But if one scorpion tries to attack the other, they bite each other and both die.
MAD was the strategic nuclear doctrine under which both the U.S. and the Soviet Union lived during the 40 years of the Cold War. Both nations had (still have) the nuclear weapons to destroy each other many times over. But both nations are deterred from launching nuclear attacks because to do so assures mutual destruction.
During that radio interview, Congressman Tancredo was asked if he could think of ways by which the United States might deter the Islamo-fascist terrorists from exploding nuclear weapons within the continental United States. Tancredo mused that the Islamo-fascists might be deterred from attacking us with nuclear weapons if they were told that to do so would result in the destruction of the sites they hold most holy – such as Mecca’s Ka’ba.
For this, Congressman Tancredo deserves a medal. Why? Because deterrence only works when the other side knows what the other side might do if attacked. As a former, Ft. Benning-trained Nuclear Weapons Employment Officer, I can easily surmise that what was merely speculation on the part of Congressman Tancredo is almost without a doubt already included within our Joint Strategic Operations Plan (JSOP). One Tomahawk missile, even without a nuclear warhead, can reduce the Ka’ba to a scattered pile of bricks.
But now that Congressman Tancredo has probably let the nuclear MAD cat out of the bag, the question arises: Do the Islamo-fascists really care? Or, are they so whacked out with their perverted form of Islam that they see the massive destruction of the United States by nuclear weapons as the price they must pay, even if so doing means the obliteration of Mecca, Medina and other Islamic holy sites?
The worst rumors buzzing around the Internet suggest the Islamo-fascists may have already smuggled as many as 40 nuclear weapons into our country. Let’s face it, just one nuclear explosion on a par with Hiroshima – somewhere between 10 and 20 kilotons – would bring our economy to a screeching halt. So, just how seriously should we take this threat?
This observer sees the question answered by Pascal’s Wager by which the philosopher said he didn’t know if God existed or not, but why not go ahead and believe and, thereby, cover your bases?
Given the prevailing winds, nuclear weapons exploded to the east of us are of less concern than those exploded to the west of us which would have this former Nuclear Weapons Employment Officer getting out the fall-out templates and plotting which way Wonder Wife and our canine-American would be flying in our airplane to avoid the nuclear particles raining down from above. Of course, if you are at or near ground zero, prior escape planning is pointless.
So, we keep our aircraft fully fueled and packed with mountain survival gear. And, even if we lived and flew in the flat lands, the survival gear would still be stowed aboard. So, gentle reader, you can conclude from this that your faithful correspondent fears an American Hiroshima.
We should all be grateful to Congressman Tancredo for any deterrent effect his speculations might have upon the Islamo-fascists. Mecca is probably already included in the JSOP. Hopefully, the Islamo-fascists believe that as well.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2005. William Hamilton.