Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The return of danger

A reader sends some additional thoughts on the consequences of nuclear proliferation, a subject discussed in an earlier post, especially in comments. He writes: "Mark Helprin considered the risk of a nuclear attack on Germany and how it would strain NATO in a recent article at the Claremont Review. Germany is of course a key ally of the US, but one of the few large prosperous countries that is not nuclear." Helprin described the vulnerability of rich, poorly defended European countries in these words:

Germany must fascinate the jihadists, too—not for displacing America as the prime target, but as the richest target least defended. Though it will never happen, they believe that Islam will conquer the world, and so they try. Unlike the U.S., Europe is not removed from them by an ocean, and in it are 50 million of their co-religionists among whom they can disappear and find support. ...

But more importantly, the variations in European attitudes and capabilities vis-à-vis responding to terrorism or nuclear blackmail are what make Germany such an attractive target. Unlike the U.S., France, and Britain, Germany is a major country with no independent expeditionary capability and no nuclear weapons, making it ideal for a terrorist nuclear strike or Iranian extortion if Iran is able to continue a very transparent nuclear policy to its logical conclusion. Though it is conceivable that after the shock of losing Washington or Chicago, the U.S.—or Britain after Birmingham, France after Lyons—would, even without an address certain, release a retaliatory strike, it is very unlikely that, even with an address certain, any nuclear power would launch in behalf of another nation, NATO ally or not, absent an explicit arrangement such as the dual-key structure during the Cold War.

Looking at Germany, then, Iran sees a country with nothing to counter the pressure of merely an implied nuclear threat. Jihadists see the linchpin of Europe, easy of access and inadvertently hospitable to operations, that will hardly punish those who fall into its hands, and that can neither accomplish on its own a flexible expeditionary response against a hostile base or sponsor, nor reply in kind to a nuclear strike. Thus the German government should be especially nervous about cargos trucked overland from the east.

Perhaps one of the most tragic outcomes of the soft approach towards rogue states is that it may unwittingly speed up the complete collapse of the nonproliferation regime and usher in its consequence, the re-armament of Europe. If Helperin is correct predicting that radical Islam's first targets will be the rich, undefended and politically correct societies of Europe, then one might ask how those societies will eventually respond to an existential challenge.

It is too early in the game to predict anything. But the diplomatic consequences of a breakdown in nonproliferation make an interesting subject for scholarly examination.





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69 Comments:

Blogger JD said...

I'm gonna go with Europe doing nothing until their very existence is threatened. Then they will respond with total war and a side order of genocide.

6/17/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

the inverse of this speculation is this NY Post article that al queda has made all the mistakes that the USA made in Viet Nam--with the same consequences.

6/17/2008 05:31:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

A nuclear strike JD threatens their very existence. It's the equivalent of a whole Luftwaffe leveling cities, except by a few individuals.

After a major European city is destroyed, the reaction will be as follows:

1. All Muslims without exception will be rounded up. Period. All prior desires to avoid conflict will go out the window because no leader will wish to either vanish in a nuclear blast or be hounded form office by a Cromwell or Napoleon, and strung up like a defeated Mussolini.

2. Europe's nations will frantically rearm with nukes, which are surprisingly affordable, and create either launch-on-warning or survivable response teams. If even North Korea can make nukes, rest assured Germany and every other country can make them too.

3. Probably some sort of agreement with Russia and the US to point the nukes only at targets like Iran and Pakistan.

4. Perhaps a frantic attempt to buy security short term from either Russia or the US by having THEM nuke in response suspect nations in exchange for concessions: money, territory, etc. It's probably unlikely to be successful.

5. Perhaps premptive nuking by major nuclear powers who also have to fear attack. Globalization means China and Russia must also be on guard, and might decide an example should be made in conjunction with a power grab.

Russia would like to re-incorporate the Soviet Empire, China would like oil and gas. Iran has no real friends and many enemies, same for Pakistan. They might even agree and present themselves as Europe's alternative protector.

Any such act would be very, very destabilizing since it would destroy NATO and it's very reason for existence (protect Europe) and broadly, create nuking up among almost all nations.

Nukes are cheap, so are nuke submarines or ICBM buried bases. Pretty much every country save Malta, Andorra, Lichtenstein, etc. can get nukes if they really want them.

6/17/2008 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Whiskey - do we *have* to wait until there's a city in smoking rubble before implementing your analysis? It seems to me that the two fall guys -- Iran and Pakistan -- are equally unpopular world-wide right now and could be dealt with fairly easily. I just don't see where anyone in Europe, Russia or China is going to tantrum if either Iran or Pakistan were to suddenly cease to exist.

6/17/2008 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Pretty much every country save Malta, Andorra, Lichtenstein, etc. can get nukes if they really want them.

I don't see this as a desirable outcome. It would undo the structure, purchased at so great a cost by World War 2, of having a few relatively responsible great powers in charge of world security. The upside of a bipolar or unipolar world was that for so long as the great powers were rational then the world would be at general peace.

How often has the Left lamented American hegemony and worked to undermine it. Events may conspire to give them what they wish. And then they will probably wish they hadn't.

Future generations will wonder what could have possessed otherwise intelligent people into thinking the world could be held together by UN Peacekeeping and palavar among diplomats. They will try to puzzle why, after a century of bloodshed, people were almost obscenely in a rush to destroy the very guarantees of the peace that had emerged. In a hurry to cut their own throats.

Maybe technological diffusion made it inevitable. Perhaps Globalization forced the issue. But for whatever reason, a return to the pre-1914 world, except with nukes, isn't so appealing. But maybe it's all we have.

6/17/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

do we *have* to wait until there's a city in smoking rubble before implementing your analysis?

Yes. Because this civilization is rational and, oxymoronically, civilized. This civilization is the victor over Hitler's, and Stalin's and Tojo's, all of whom would have little compunction to destroy their enemies. Those guys would have stuffed their enemies into gas chambers, furnaces and mass graves. But this civilization is different. It will not destroy any nation or population until one of its cities, or several of them, are in ruin.

And for that reason this civilization is supremely worthy of preservation by any reasonable conventional means. Because if we don't target the bad guys surgically; don't go after the financiers with bell, book and candle; if we succumb to the stupidities of "why can't we just get along", then this civilization will fall. And the successor civilization is not something we will like.

Roosevelt stuck 110,000 Japanese Americans behind the wire. Harry Truman firebombed Japan. Nuked Nagasaki and Hiroshima. They sent Marines straight across the sands of Iwo Jima at Nambus, Type 96 and Type 92 machine guns. And they called it the Good War.

Today, we have people arguing that Khalid Sheik Mohammed is a victim.

Well, we should be careful of what we want, because we may get it.

6/17/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

Pray tell what is rational about waiting for several of our cities and their populations to be wiped off the earth? We back into such a horror by touting civilized behavior, but that does not stop the bombs from coming. The real question is: how do we stop the bombs?

6/17/2008 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Brock said...

I don't see this as a desirable outcome. It would undo the structure, purchased at so great a cost by World War 2, of having a few relatively responsible great powers in charge of world security.

It may not be desirable, but Whiskey's analysis is driven by the USA not being willing to counter-nuke Iran or Pakistan on Germany's behalf. If Germany, Italy, etc. could trust the USA to counter-nuke for them then they wouldn't need to re-arm.

But I don't see the USA nuking Iran into dust for the Germans. We went to war to stop German genocide; it'd be tough to enact a genocide on their behalf. I don't think the US public would object to the Germans doing it themselves (we understand the Chicago way), but we wouldn't do it for them. We're just not that into them. Maybe for the Brits or Aussies, but then, we don't need to. Our respect for them is based on their willingness to fight.

Because if we don't target the bad guys surgically; don't go after the financiers with bell, book and candle; if we succumb to the stupidities of "why can't we just get along", then this civilization will fall. And the successor civilization is not something we will like.

It reminds me of a quote I just saw today in the new Batman trailer. The Joker says "When the chips are down these 'civilized' people will eat each other; you'll see, I'll show you."

Maybe technological diffusion made it inevitable. Perhaps Globalization forced the issue.

Economics and technology outpaced political / military integration. The EU and NAFTA both forgot that military / security integration is just as important as economic integration. If Brussels was the real capital of Europe (and could draw on the UK's and France's nukes) and if Washington was the capital of the Western Hemisphere, none of this would be nearly the problem you imagine now.

6/17/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Because it's a contingent event. And the test for acting is either retribution or clear and present danger.

During the Cold War there were two candidate doctrines: launch on warning or assured second strike. We were talking thousands of nuclear warheads in that situation, not just a dozen. Any simulation would show that a pre-emptive strike on the Soviet Union would reduce casualties by millions over launch on warning or assured second strike. But we gave up these advantages, built the Missile Warning Systems, the boomers, the silos and the bomber fleets.

And the miracle of miracles was that "something turned up". And we walked out from under the shadow of the Bomb.

So my guess is that we're going to do the same thing here. Hold off until something actually happens. If only for reasons or institutional memory and because there are enough old codgers in think tanks who cogitate in this way.

6/17/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger Mannning said...

I suggest we need a "full court press" on the known nuclear threat nations, with Iran first and foremost. By that I mean a serious demand by us that they stop now or suffer the full wrath of our military forces, backed up as they are with nukes.

6/17/2008 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger RAH said...

A couple of points that I feel are being ignored.
1) Anti ballistic sytems are being installed in Poland and Czech.
2) I know the Pershing missiles were destroyed,but what do you think of the odds that a few were stashed just in case in Germany on US military posts?

The compact warhead designs that were found on the Swiss businessman laptop are designed to fit on NK or Iran missile stages. That is the reason for antiballistic sites in Europe and Poland is right next to Germany.

Second the odds of a strike against Iranian missile or uranuim enrichmanet facilities are pretty good. Iraq is pretty much settled and we have troops ready that can block action by Iran into Iraq. The Kurds are wating Iran actions and have good intelligence due to the Iranian Kurds.

Assets in the Med are in place and out in the Indian Ocean. A mislle anti ballistic ship is near Lebanon. Bush has benn on the last leg of vistis and has in recent month visited the arb nations and European nations, In the spring Cheney went around the Arab nations with obvious warnings.

We sold bunker blasting bombs to the Israel by Rumsfield. He also started the change of kinetic warheads onto ballistic missiles stage to get sufficient penetration.

So we have the means and Israel probably does. Israel needs to get their leadeship problem settled and be prepared for a Hezbolla distraction on the border of Lebanon.

6/17/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger ambisinistral said...

I think a nuclear attack on a European city would greatly change the reality on the ground. The media was carefully scrubbed of pictures of people jumping from the Twin Towers. I think that was done because they were that inflammatory. After a nuclear attack there would be no scrubbing of the pictures coming out of ground zero, even if anybody wanted to.

The public outside of the Middle East, and probably a fair amount in the Middle East, would be aghast that the nuclear thresh hold was crossed. That would put our Nukes on the table, along side of our removed gloves.

First off, in short order, the only Moslems you would be able to find in Europe would be swinging from lamp posts, or wearing huge wooden crosses around their necks and swearing their name was John and not Mohammed.

Secondly, I think we would do a massive retaliation. Avoiding Nukes if we could, but not sparing brutality or worrying about civilian casualties in the response. The notion of proportional response would go out the window.

Third, I think a number of governments in the Middle East, after watching one of their own get demolished, would get some very sobering and harsh ultimatums.

6/17/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

RAH - agree with all your observations, and have been observing them myself.

So Wretchard, you are saying then we have to wait for the bad guys to strike first. OK, fair enough.

But then it gets into a popularity contest on which city is important enough to nuke the Muslims over. New York obviously is, but would Oklahoma City be? How about Toronto or Melbourne? Personally, I think that if Berlin was hit I'd want to strike back, but probably not for Moscow or Beijing.

It's like deciding who's going to get a liver transplant. So wouldn't it be fairer to just take out the evil-doers *before* we have to do elections for prom king and queen, since there is across-the-board agreement on who the miscreants are?

6/17/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

...in short order, the only Moslems you would be able to find in Europe would be swinging from lamp posts...

Everyone seems to think that the Yurps would suddenly find their gonads and rise up to smite their attackers. Watching France and its nightly car-b-ques for the past year or more, I have serious doubts about that theory. The French citizenry has done absolutely *nothing* to defend themselves, and even the French police withdraw and don't want to hurt anyone's little brown feelings.

The Constabulary in England is behaving ditto, as are the people and the police across Europe. Including those mean old Germans.

I simply do not understand why Americans are so optimistic that our "allies" (including Canada) will regain some little bit of strength in the face of brutal attack when they have not - at all - in the face of lethal provocation for years now.

The countries who will join us in reprisal after an Islamist attack are the countries who sent troops into Iraq on their own, not as part of NATO. All other countries, it seems to me, will either curl up in a ball and play dead, or demand that the UN and/or America protect them. At which point, the UN's diplomats will probably be demanding America's protection for their skanky institution, too.

6/17/2008 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

And what would America do if 5 million Uropean muslims applied for asylum because of genocide in Urope? This time we'd take them in folks. More is the pity. No socialists and no muslims, no thank you. Don't take either, they are both infected with cultural disease.

6/17/2008 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger ambisinistral said...

Everyone seems to think that the Yurps would suddenly find their gonads and rise up to smite their attackers. Watching France and its nightly car-b-ques for the past year or more, I have serious doubts about that theory.

We're not talking about car-b-ques, we're talking about a nuclear attack on a European city. Have you ever seen the pictures of the aftermath of the gas attack on Hallubjah? The dead and burned women and children?

Well, multiple them several thousand and that is what the Europeans would be reacting against. Do you think ghetto punks would really stand a chance against the rage that would cause?

That sort of emotion is what I'm talking when I say the ground rules would change if, God forbid, such a nuclear attack ever happened.

6/17/2008 08:17:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

My guess is that the Krauts will do two things:

Warm up the ovens

And, spend a couple of weeks at the BMW/Mercedes factories building some pretty missiles that will hit a postage stamp on a dirty street corner in Tehran. The first time. Without test. And, quickly replicatable.

I do agree, and have stated many times in the past, that Europe is the likely next target. They are the soft underbelly of the western culture. Their only defenses are their powerful police forces. European police forces are not nearly as hamstrung as ours in the good old U S of A. Their everyday activity matches our 9/12 capability. It’s not every day that a gringo like me sees cops with machine guns patrolling a catwalk overlooking the airport concourse. Right now the Limeys have made it possible to send a terrorist to the hole for 48 days without charge – and they don’t have to waste the fuel to air drop them into some island paradise.

Here is another thought. Would the Krauts really have to ‘buy’ a reprisal from Russia or China or India? I think not. Those nations and civilizations have no love for the Islamic civilization. And, they have been known to crack the necessary eggs to make their omelets. And, they cannot have any confidence they will not come under a nuclear terror attack within the next minute, day, week, month, etc.. There is absolutely no trust nor any viable contact point.

So, basically, the game will be on!!!

6/17/2008 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

I'm with NahnCee on this one. I think the Euros sense of self worth is so enervated, and their self-loathing so widespread, that they'd think they got what they deserved if one of their cities got nuked. All of you guys predicting a return to the ruthless Europe of the colonial period are just projecting your own reaction on them. They've "civilized" themselves into powerless imbecility. The only righteous outrage they are capable of is toward the US for having the temerity to try to defend their miserable lives.

6/17/2008 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

We have some 20th century examples to hand of European countries which faced the problem of being too small to be strategically viable. Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and Czechoslovakia spring to mind. They were in fact Germany's nearest neighbors as the threat on their borders metastasized into mortal danger.

Unfortunately those countries managed to do essentially nothing to defend themselves in an effective way, even though the threat of national annihilation and humiliation was immediate and starkly apparent.

In each case the national elites in charge clung on to power until defeat was inevitable, stepped back and let the common people bear the brunt of the problem until the war was won, and then slid smoothly back in place once the war was over. When push came to shove it turned out that they were more concerned about preserving their parochial dominance than they were about negotiating the sacrifices necessary to build robust Europe-wide alliances.

I can see no reason to expect anything different in response to the Islamist threat.

The EU today conforms exactly to this characteristic, designed as it is to build a continent-wide economy while preserving the privileges of the political class in each country, sheltering them all from the emergence of any EU-wide political competition.

A country such as Belgium has thrown away its independence rather than defend it twice already during the past 100 years and appears ready to do so again. That they are free today is a mere historical accident.

6/17/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Wretchard writes:
``But we gave up these advantages, built the Missile Warning Systems, the boomers, the silos and the bomber fleets.
``And the miracle of miracles was that "something turned up". And we walked out from under the shadow of the Bomb.''

No miracles, just reality. The Cold War collapsed under the weight of its contradictions. Communism was a spectacularly self-destructive force, economically, socially and, it turns out, militarily. History shows the Soviet Union had by the 1970s, ceased to be a serious military threat to the U.S. It's technology was vastly inferior in quality and, in many cases, in quantity. More important, its people weren't up to the task of maintaining an empire when they had to wait in line half the day for toilet paper and years for an automobile.
The other contradiction was that somehow communism as an organizing force could somehow propel a military superpower to victory over the thriving mixed economies of Europe and the U.S.
The Soviet people never really believed this, history shows, but the American right did with its heart and soul.
When the Berlin wall fell, so did all the right's fevered fantasies about a military clash with the Soviet Union over the Fulda Gap, or a dual by ICBM in which we trade New York for Moscow and spend the following months, or years, in fallout shelters, reading up on Ayn Rand, Machiavelli and von Clauswitz, presumably, in between prayers to the one and only, of course.
The Soviet Union collapsed without a single shot fired by the U.S. Just like that: poof! No one on the American right, not one academic, journalist or political leader identified with conservative America, had predicted anything of the sort. Why?
If the American right expects to survive as a mainstream political force, it better learn the answer to that question.
The Soviet collapse utterly destroyed the myth that communists "only understand force" and that their government could not be negotiated with, that it was "EVIL" and, therefore, left us with only two choices: Destroy it, or be destroyed by it.
No wonder Wretchard calls the Soviet collapse a "miracle." Were he to take on board how and why it happened -- other than by some kind of unexplainable magic -- his axiomatic Kill or Be Killed approach to geopolitics would at last be exposed even to himself as the simplistic fantasy it is.
Now we are two decades hence, and the exact same people who insisted military aggression was the only way out of the Cold War are, surprise, surprise, counseling that military aggression is the only way to win the war against Islamic extremism.
More important, they are day by day insisting on the spectacular power of Islamic extremism as an organizing force, even as the best estimates show bin Laden -- still atop the fetid heap -- weighing in with about 500 fighters worldwide.
Wretchard is right to suggest that a similar "miracle" will end the war against Islamic terrorism. The "miracle" will be similar because the same sort of contradictions are at work and they are inexorably moving toward collapse.

6/17/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

No one on the American right, not one academic, journalist or political leader identified with conservative America, had predicted anything of the sort

Nobody predicted it.

Some Catholics maintain it was caused by the power of prayer. An outlook that seems improbable at first glance.

6/17/2008 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

The US has a long history of weighing in to solve the military problems of others. WWI, WWII, Gulf War I, etc.

The idea that the US would stand idly by if an ally like Germany was nuked is ridiculous. Aside from NATO obligations the US requires an orderly world. The US could not thrive in a world where rogue nations use nuclear blackmail or actual nuclear attacks.

I think that the bad guys know this. There will be no nuclear attacks out of a blue sky. Who shoots first is always important. The Iranians are very clever and would manufacture a crisis in which they could be seen as defending themselves if they were going to make a nuclear attack. In the end it won't save them though.

6/17/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Wretchard said:

"And the miracle of miracles was that "something turned up". And we walked out from under the shadow of the Bomb."

Make no mistake about this... Our civilization's survival of the Cold War was a miracle.

During the Cold War we had P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft flying in and out of Moffett Field about every 10 minutes. This went on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years. The Orions raster scanned the northern Pacific Ocean monitoring Soviet ballistic missile submarines (boomers) through use of magnetic anomoly detectors and sonorbuoys.

It was not common knowledge during the Cold War but each of those Orions carried a nuclear depth charge. The commander of the Orions had standing orders to nuke any Soviet boomer without Presidential authorization if the commander heard the boomer pressurizing a missile tube.

It was a miracle that no Soviet boomer was accidently nuked because it was going through a training exercise or had some new equipment that sounded like a missile tube being pressurized.

For over a decade, we were a gnat's eyelash away from thermonuclear war.

It is vital that we never do this again.

6/17/2008 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Mac Daddy - I identify with your resistance to the doomy side, but it occurs to me that a sense of history can sometimes be too much of a shock-absorber...Figure it's always important to remain alive to the what's really new in the news...The rightists who responded FULLY to the moment on 9/11 beat the hell out of progs who denied the felt quality of the Day in Question and fast forwarded into Always Already comparative mode. (Rove may have been bad, but Chomsksy was worse.)

When it comes to the breaks - I doubt Wretch is all wrong re that "miracle" - I'm reminded of Kuron's great line re the rise of Solidarnosc. - How'd it go? - "I thought it was impossible then. I still think it was impossible." When K. died - Lech Walensa - even though he sometimes had probs with Kuron (tribune of the workers vs. hero of the intellectuals) - paid K. a great compliment - Solidarnosc W. said would have been "impossible" but for K...While Solidarnosc wasn't exactly a miracle, and it wasn't quite impossible, it's always good to appreciate the WONDER of it. The S.U. didn't simply collapse...it was brought down largely by a moral force from the left...Course we've already established I'm a sucker for hope. That's why I'll keep asking Clubbers to cultivate a sense of possibility (and not give into cynicism) about the amazing things that are happening in America during this electoral season!! Though lord knows I know what answer I'll get from most posters...

6/17/2008 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

A quick add-on- This sentence of Helprin's grabbed me. Never a believer in the death penalty but H.'s hard line is a reminder that perhaps that penalty should be available when prosecuting crimes against humanity - One way (as per Charles Keil) of underscoring the differnce between "ordinary" killers and mass murderers...

In Spain, with 191 dead and 1,800 wounded, the worst offender will spend no more than 40 years behind soft bars. Though in 2003 Germany found a September 11th facilitator guilty of 3,066 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced him to seven years (20 hours per person), he was recently retried and sentenced to 43 hours per person, not counting parole.

6/17/2008 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

I should also mention that I traveled extensively in Eastern Europe during the Cold War around 1985-1990. The place was armed to the teeth by the Warsaw Pact. The plains immediately east of the Hartz Mountains had an array of Soviet anti-aircraft missile launchers separated from each other by about one tactical nuke blast radius (lots of them). I saw this with my own eyes.

I once lived in Goettingen, Germany which was about 20 km from the Iron Curtain. I often saw Bundeswehr Leopard-II main battle tanks (MBT) driving by on maneuvers. The situation was the same on the other side of the fence except it was with Soviet MBTs rather than Leopard-IIs. This went on for decades.

Again, it was a miracle that we survived the Cold War.

6/17/2008 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Some Catholics maintain it was caused by the power of prayer. An outlook that seems improbable at first glance.

But maybe not so improbable at second glance.

"And the miracle of miracles was that "something turned up". And we walked out from under the shadow of the Bomb."

Make no mistake about this... Our civilization's survival of the Cold War was a miracle.

Again, it was a miracle that we survived the Cold War.

6/17/2008 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Bobal said:

"Some Catholics maintain it was caused by the power of prayer."

I'm very skeptical. I think we got lucky.

If you want your faith challenged, take a trip to the Auschwitz Museum in Poland. My brain short circuited after seeing rooms filled with eyeglasses, clothing, human hair, etc. taken from people killed in gas chambers.

Bad things happen to innocent people.

6/17/2008 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

My faith is challenged enough, but I recall listening--or reading-- as that English Catholic Paul Johnson was thinking along these lines. There was an organized effort in Poland, and somewhat in East Germany too, and among some at least English Catholics, to pray the bastards away. And it is amazing how it happened. Gorbachev has announced his conversion to Christianity, by the way.

Also, I recall a book by a midlevel state department guy, who speculated along the same lines. The fall of the Soviet Union came as a big big surprise to everyone, and some kind of longed for the old stable days. (They being unaware must be of your cat and mouse submarine games.) This writer too thought some other factor might be in play, other than the normal ones.

I'm a pessimist as far as this world goes. I think with the moslems getting nuclear weapons, things are likely to end badly. Therefore I hoped Bush would bomb Iran into submission, and hope Nahncee is right in her prediction.

If the Lord is going to intervene anywhere, the international stage would seem a good place to do it, or in outer space, keeping the space rocks away. It does seem the Lord's batting average is low though, in international relations.

6/18/2008 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger davis,br said...

No one on the right predicted it ...umm, not quite true.

Back in the mid-to-late-60's, I recall reading in a magazine "the peoples of the Soviet Union are going to wake up one day and discover that they are the poorest white [yes, I recall clearly it said white] people on the planet ...and that is the day that the Soviet Union will fall".

Pretty much, that's exactly what happened wasn't it.

And it was indeed such an unusual sentiment that I never forgot it (quoted it a few times in the pre-Internet era, too, which helped nail it down). When the Berlin Wall came down, almost the first thing I thought about was that article.

The magazine was The Plain Truth, and the writer was a Christian fundamentalist by the name of Herbert W. Armstrong (well, I recalled it being Garner Ted Armstrong who wrote it, actually).

Just FYI.

Hmm. I did a quick Google, and found an archive of 1960's PDFs here: http://www.herbert-w-armstrong.org/indexPT1960.html ...but I am NOT going to go through them and try and find that article!

6/18/2008 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The reason the West will not act first is because people want to believe the danger will pass, the bad men go away, if they just stay quiet under the bed.

This has been the behavior in Western Europe since 1918. It's just easier to act as if nothing bad will happen.

The elites of course AFTER an attack will either be dead or in frantic attempts to maintain legitimacy. Muslims have neither yet the manpower nor the desire to actually, RULE. As the Nazis or Soviets did. Look at the Taliban for an example of what can be done under Islamist "rule" which is essentially, nothing. The whole point is the killing, nothing else. Bin Laden actually believed that 9/11 would cause the US to collapse into separate states.

What will happen is that surviving army, navy, and police forces will coalesce around one man, one unknown man, probably even to himself now. That man will assemble a team to first restore order, by likely rounding up and exiling all Muslims at best, and quickly build a revenge/prevention weapon.

Revenge to satisfy the people's desire but also prevention from a follow-on attack by someone else.

Logic would have said that the Russians, Chinese and Americans would have cut down Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran by now since their nuclear arsenal monopolies are threatened, but clearly China and Russia feel that the US has more to lose and they have more to gain. Since both nations have helped proliferation simply to poke the US in the eye.

Yes Wretchard, nukes in a world like Europe 1913 is all we have.

6/18/2008 12:12:00 AM  
Blogger Edwin said...

"The Soviet Union collapsed without a single shot fired by the U.S. Just like that: poof! No one on the American right, not one academic, journalist or political leader identified with conservative America, had predicted anything of the sort. Why?"

I think you meant to say "left."

The rather extensive Wikipedia article on the subject features a section with several Ronald Reagan quotes.

6/18/2008 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger The Anti-Jihadist said...

I'd like to comment on what the US might do (or more precisely, what is likely to do) if a major NATO ally (in this hypothetical example, Germany) was attacked by nuclear weapons. In the interest of full disclosure, I'd like to say that I do have direct operational experience in this area.

As soon as practical following the detonation (in Berlin, Dusseldorf or wherever), NATO (meaning the US) will make all possible efforts to identify the origins of the fissile material as soon as possible. This is a dangerous, but straightforward forensic procedure. All fissile materials have a signature that, to trained investigators, can reveal the identity and whereabouts of the material's originating reactor. Yes, you can be rest assured that American intelligence has definitely obtained this sort of info on reactors around the world (friend and foe). The forensics are going be done at the incident site(s) no matter what is said publicly, and no matter what diplomats from various countries may assert or deny.

Long standing US nuclear doctrine is very clear in this case. Any attack on a US ally (like Germany, or Israel for that matter) with WMDs will be responded to 'in kind' by US forces. And the US military has only one kind of WMDs.

So, yes, if a German city or two is vaporized in a nuclear fireball, then the US will indeed retaliate on the Germans' behalf, once the return address of the attack is ascertained. The US only has to decide which attack options (which are all planned in advance) to execute.

This is long standing US doctrine and will very likely remain to be, no matter who wins the White House in November.

Hope this clears up the issue.

6/18/2008 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

And what if the material for the bomb has been stolen or bought on the black market from a Russian nuclear reactor?

The Lord having failed us in the first instance, are we then to turn again to the Lord, or launch against Russia?

The identity of the person in the White House then, if as still living, might make a considerable difference.

6/18/2008 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

A nuclear umbrella had to be credible in order to convince those countries sheltering under it that there was no need to build their own nuclear weapons. Hence, it was vital to leave no doubt in the minds of either ally or adversary that nuclear retaliation would be visited on anyone attacking an ally.

Of course there was always questions about when the "threshold" was crossed, because things might "escalate" to Central Nuclear War. Of particular concern was the question of whether a tactical nuke (depth charge, torpedo or anti-aircraft warhead) would "count".

There was even, I recall, a lot of discussion about the sizing of the deterrent force. Make it too small and the enemy will gamble on the chance of a first strike. That's why this gem of an exchange between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in August 2007 really deserved more attention than it got. Follow the link to the Washington Port article.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton drew another distinction between herself and Sen. Barack Obama yesterday, refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Osama bin Laden or other terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Clinton's comments came in response to Obama's remarks earlier in the day that nuclear weapons are "not on the table" in dealing with ungoverned territories in the two countries, and they continued a steady tug of war among the Democratic presidential candidates over foreign policy.

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance" in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Obama said. He then added that he would not use such weapons in situations "involving civilians."

"Let me scratch that," he said. "There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table."

Obama (Ill.) was responding to a question by the Associated Press about whether there was any circumstance in which he would be prepared or willing to use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat terrorism and bin Laden.

"There's been no discussion of using nuclear weapons, and that's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss," Obama said. When asked whether his answer also applied to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons, he said it did.

By the afternoon, Clinton (N.Y.) had responded with an implicit rebuke. "Presidents should be careful at all times in discussing the use and nonuse of nuclear weapons," she said, adding that she would not answer hypothetical questions about the use of nuclear force.

"Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrents to keep the peace, and I don't believe any president should make blanket statements with the regard to use or nonuse," Clinton said.


The exchange as reported made no sense, except for Hillary's standard no-discussion clause. Obama's sentence should have sent alarm bells ringing everywhere.

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance" in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Obama said. He then added that he would not use such weapons in situations "involving civilians."

The reason it makes no sense is that it can't be justified by any conceivable counterforce or countervalue scenario that didn't involve an implied prior nuclear strike against the West. Just why would the US employ nukes in Afghanistan or Pakistan anyway in any normal warfighting scenario? So unless he was completely absentminded, there is the suggestion that he wouldn't retaliate against a deniable nuclear attack believed to originate for Afghanistan or Pakistan.

To his credit, Obama backtracked.

"There's been no discussion of using nuclear weapons, and that's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss," Obama said. When asked whether his answer also applied to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons, he said it did.

The questioner was evidently of some sophistication as he/she brought up the question of tactical nukes. But Obama had already committed the cardinal sin against deterrence, which was to leave no doubt in the minds of either ally or adversary that nuclear retaliation would be visited on anyone attacking an ally. Despite his backtracking, both ally and adversary might be going, "hmm".

It's useful to recall why the US was nailed to the DMZ for so long. It made very little tactical sense to leave 2nd ID under thousands of North Korean guns. But it made political sense. The 2nd ID was hostage to any Nokor invasion. It was there to make sure the US couldn't welsh on its commitment to South Korea.

There is one last problem that potentially presents itself. In the Cold War days the presumed delivery system was a missile. The laws of ballistics left no doubt as to its origin. From Russia with or without love.

Today we may have to rely on forensics. And here again the political damage caused by the campaign to discredit OIF may have to be paid for. If a nuke went off in Germany right now and President Bush provided forensic evidence it came from Iran, how soon before the NYT and some members of Congress, maybe even Obama, said, "Bush lied and people died". Maybe he's lying again?

Listen to Barack Obama's famous 52 second clip on a world of nuclear weapons, and ask yourself, what does this do for the stability of deterrence? What does it mean? And how are allies and foes likely to perceive it.

6/18/2008 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Brock - It may not be desirable, but Whiskey's analysis is driven by the USA not being willing to counter-nuke Iran or Pakistan on Germany's behalf. If Germany, Italy, etc. could trust the USA to counter-nuke for them then they wouldn't need to re-arm.

I disagree.

We have made great success in establishing whole strategic regions and nuclear free - Oceana, Africa, Latin America - and established that two other regions allies (non-nuke nations in Europe, China neighbors, + Canada are covered under the nuclear umbrella of NATO and various Pacific treaties.
We might have established the ME as nuclear-free but for the thorny problem of Israel.

The deal is still on, IMO. Berlin gets nuked, NATO nukes back and if they have to string up some Lefty Euros, Euro Muslims, and ACLU Jews who stand in the way, so be it. Same with nukes against Yokohama, Seoul, Canberra, Chingmai...Those who think the retaliation would be neutered by the Jewish media, the lawyers with robes, Kenneth Roth and his Human Rights Watch and the Euroweenies that would see a nuking of millions as a law enforcement matter with the rights of the attackers as precious as the victims - are sadly mistaken.

9/11 was hyped up, but calling it "ground zero" and going through three years of mourning on the "worst attack in history" is a joke. A real Ground Zero would be 10,000 times bigger than the 9/11 area of destruction, and casualties could be 1,000 times higher if more than one city is nuked.

If we lose those umbrellas by losing the credibility, the certainty, of retaliation - then we invite all those nations under "nuclear protection treaty" to proliferate.

It does get interesting on the margins.
We have no defense treaty with Israel or New Zealand, so we have no obligation to risk ourselves for them. Much as the Brit admirers of their most loyal NZ emigres or Christian Zionists argue to the contrary.
It IS in our interest to maintain those nuclear free zones and figure out the Pakistan mess, how to avoid having to do trillion-dollar invasions every 5 years to preserve Israel's WMD monopoly in the region that makes all others feel the need to get them themselves for military parity, or get dragged into a major ME war when our vital interests are not threatened and we have no treaty obligations to defend - Israel, Sudan, KSA...whatever.

*******************
theanti-jihadist - All fissile materials have a signature that, to trained investigators, can reveal the identity and whereabouts of the material's originating reactor. Yes, you can be rest assured that American intelligence has definitely obtained this sort of info on reactors around the world

Garbage. True only in Hollywood. Many of the pits we have, the Russians, Chinese were blended from the output of several PU production reactors. Nor have we obtained "radioactive signatures" since 1963 on most nukes tested, when it went underground, and what little PU we have been able to sample still varies wildly with a bomb signature where in a production run it was obtained, burn times vary - and besides blending, its signature is affected by alloying and bomb design variables.
This dumb myth also neglects that HEU is just uranium with no reactor signature.
The real story is that we would know who sent a bomber or missile in from the tracking and in an attack like that, the "forensics team" would be entirely superfluous. For a sneak nuke, forenics might reveal country of origin design, fissile material used - but other intel assets would be more valuable than "bomb crater, CSI"

The most important thing would be, with millions dead and much of the global economy destroyed and an existential threat to have people sent to the likes of Ruth Ginsburg, the Media owners, Chuck Schumer - to forcefully remind them that this would not be handled as a leisurely criminal inquiry stretching out over years and under the control of lawyers and courts.
It's a nuke or several - and all civilian processes go away. And anyone that tries to take it away from the military as a "criminal matter" must be stopped.

6/18/2008 03:02:00 AM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

It's telling that Wretchard would return to wildly speculative apocalyptic scenarios as a venue for revenge fetishism.

Sure, there should be no taboo on any sort of speculation, but you do have to wonder why, in a world with so many urgent, ongoing conventional conflicts, Wretchard chooses to focus on such a wildly speculative scenario.

If the point is really CONCERN about a possible nuclear attack, shouldn't the focus be on prevention and how that might be obtained?

If such an attack cannot be deterred, how might it be discouraged?

The speculations about retaliation is just a little too nakedly blood-lusty to be serious, especially in a discussion room populated by people who daily fanatsize about conducting a holocaust against Muslims.

6/18/2008 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

Wretchard said:

"And here again the political damage caused by the campaign to discredit OIF may have to be paid for. If a nuke went off in Germany right now and President Bush provided forensic evidence it came from Iran, how soon before the NYT and some members of Congress, maybe even Obama, said, "Bush lied and people died".

This by itself is enough to both dissolve the effectiveness of nuclear non-proliferation efforts and seriously degrade the global network of alliances built up over more than 50 years. What sane ally can rely for its survival on one partner when one of that country's two alternating political parties will cut loose any ally at any time for immediate political gain? All the Democrats ever have to say about any sacrifice made for an ally is that it is too expensive, not worth it, results from corruption of some sort and should be cut. This sort of thing does get noticed overseas.

One of the few things we can be sure of is that, should Democrats ever decide at some future point in time that allies would be useful to have, they will find a way to claim that George Bush drove them away.

One reason the Iraq war was a good idea is that it postponed the day when, through unfamiliarity with conflict, America becomes completely ensnared by dreamy theories about a peaceful world, and lets its guard down.

6/18/2008 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

McDad wrote:

"The speculations about retaliation is just a little too nakedly blood-lusty to be serious, especially in a discussion room populated by people who daily fanatsize about conducting a holocaust against Muslims."

The emaphais on the blood, or vaporized blood, is inevitable. Jonathan Schell's 'Fate of the Earth' or John Hersey's 'Hiroshima' provide some idea of what faces us. The seriousness won't go away.

While no commenter has mentioned it, the Cato opionion regarding the Third Punic War also will never go away: 'Carthago delenda est.' Mutatis mutandis, Mecca, Medina, Qom . . . .

Eggplant wrote:

"If you want your faith challenged, take a trip to the Auschwitz Museum in Poland. My brain short circuited after seeing rooms filled with eyeglasses, clothing, human hair, etc. taken from people killed in gas chambers. Bad things happen to innocent people."

I've visited the Dachau and Hiroshima sites. There wasn't much of a comparison for me. The horror of a nuclear bomb, even the size of Hiroshima's . . . . The shadows of victims on the pavement . . .

Prayer is always a good thing.

6/18/2008 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger talnik said...

"[if] Helperin is correct predicting that radical Islam's first targets will be the rich, undefended and politically correct societies of Europe..."
Wretchard, the radical Islamists already attacked New York, the Pentagon, the Cole, Israel, and so on going back to Mecca and Medina in the 7th century.
I read your blog daily and admire your intellect but how on earth did you come up with that sentence and why in God's name are you quoting Halperin? Halperin is arguably one of the most biased and incompetent commentators employed today. His statements on nearly every subject are--if not deliberate misinformation--adolescent, to say the least.
I admit it must be tough to come up with high quality posts as consistently as you do (I couldn't do it) but you're much better than this.

6/18/2008 07:39:00 AM  
Blogger joe buz said...

I suspect that danger will not arrive on a missile. It will arrive on a truck, ship or small plane. The attack will take time to trace. Debate will ensue. Since the Persians have been talking the most about wiping folks "off of the map" their reaction will be scrutinized. The UN will do their usual collective hand wring, sit on, ass covering motion....after that who knows. Definitive enough?

6/18/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger talnik said...

I confused Mark Helprin with Mark Halperin, and to Mark Helprin, I apologize.
But I do stand by my argument. Germany will not be radical Islam's first target. History has demonstrated it makes a better base of operations than a target.

6/18/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Slade said...

[Briefly off-topic:]

Economics and technology outpaced political / military integration. The EU and NAFTA both forgot that military / security integration is just as important as economic integration.

The business community was pushing NAFTA as early as Nixon and Reagan. The domestic markets were no longer adequate to produce the profit margins demanded by shareholders in their quarterly statements. As the post-WWII cycle accelerated, business models changed from long-term growth to short-term profit - helped and then hurt by the high tech industry with their own unique brand of non-revenue producing business models - which collapsed for lack of revenue. [Wait until this country get a whiff of the Soros-sponsored Popper-inspired business model.]

Trade agreements - whether free or regulated (never quite understood the concept of a “free” trade “agreement”) require marginal parities not only along the economics vectors, but along the security/military vectors, as noted above, and, I would add, the socio-cultural vectors. The absence of labor and environmental controls were just the most obvious deficiencies at the time. [The irony is that Colombia is going to lose what could be a good deal for both countries because the Democratically-controlled Congress is now dealing with NAFTA-related issues, which don’t apply to the same degree. So they made a mistake 25 years ago but by God they’re going to fix it now.]

Regardless, the genii is out of the bottle.

We now have a potential leader who comes from a background that suggests a willingness to leverage political influence to the highest bidder, and then lectures Harvard graduates like a guilty scold for a conspicuous absence of spirituality in their pantheon of aspirations. That's the way of politics - so it goes and the American people have a pretty high tolerance level - but tagging on the spiritual scold part is hard to swallow.

The president is responsible for securing the country from threat. I will take care of my own inner life. How to do the former is the big ticket issue, but it is being subsumed by this candidate under an umbrella of recipes for "coming together" to become “better people”. That is fine for church but is not good enough for the Oval Office.

The threat of a nuclear incident from a rogue player is more real today than at any time in the recent past. I take it very seriously. I am not distracted by the choir of innuendos suggesting that the threat level is somehow my fault because I wouldn't take tea with some tinpot. I will bend but I won't bend that far. Globalization was premature. Now we will have to deal with it.

McCain in 2008.

6/18/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Jack Okie said...

Had the coup against Gorbachev succeeded, the SU would have eventually collapsed anyway, but it is to the credit of the Soviet military, especially the proximate field grade officers, that they refused to carry out the plotters' orders.

6/18/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

The Anti-Jihadist said:

"All fissile materials have a signature that, to trained investigators, can reveal the identity and whereabouts of the material's originating reactor."

I've already been beaten to the punch on replying to this. However this forensic capability is well known. The bad guy's bomb pit will probably be from an ex-Soviet or ex-South African weapon. The trans-uranic isotope signature will tell us nothing useful.

6/18/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

"The Soviet Union collapsed without a single shot fired by the U.S. Just like that: poof!"

Actually, Mcdaddyo, the Cold War was World War III, and it was in part a hot war because the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and in a host of other third-world countries comprised World War III in sum-total, along with economic "cold" war.

The Soviet Union collapsed because Communism is an evil tyranny with an unjust system of totalitarian government and law, and because its economic system was neither "scientific" nor progressive, and because American conservatives waged just war - both hot and cold.

6/18/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Fen said...

Many of the pits we have, the Russians, Chinese were blended from the output of several PU production reactors. Nor have we obtained "radioactive signatures" since 1963 on most nukes tested, when it went underground, and what little PU we have been able to sample still varies wildly with a bomb signature where in a production run it was obtained, burn times vary - and besides blending, its signature is affected by alloying and bomb design variables.
This dumb myth also neglects that HEU is just uranium with no reactor signature.


Echo. I would add that "primitive" nukes have too many commonalities to trace back with the 100% certainty needed to authorize a counter-strike.

And I still don't understand why the Left assumes these tinpot dictators aren't looking at ways to bypass any "fingerprint" trace. Brutality != stupidity.

6/18/2008 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

McDaddyo said...
It's telling that Wretchard would return to wildly speculative apocalyptic scenarios as a venue for revenge fetishism.


Not really. One of the great failures, among many, of Bush and other Western leaders is not laying out clear consequences ahead of time for any WMD transgressions.

In such ambiguity, a terrorist group may be tempted to think that their home country, Mecca, the city of their financiers, and fellow Muslims in the country nuked may all escape consequence because lawyers will control the situation and seek to bring only the 8-30 men involved in the actual operation to trial. (If they can find them, and assemble enough evidence to beat due process in the USA and human rights laws in Europe). Millions dead, and at worse, a stiff jail sentence less than life in Europe in VIP suites, or in the US years of celebrity and hundreds of ACLU Jews fighting for your enemy rights before any painless execution. At best, you lay low and are never caught by law enforcement people, protected by lawless tribal people....

Contrast this to the Cold War, where the paths to nuclear escalation and magnitude of nuke use was well-understood by both sides. What would "trigger" use of nukes - an invasion through the Fulda Gap, Soviet Divisions hitting Turkey, Naval Blockade of Murmansk/St Pete, China nukes hitting Taiwan or Japan, etc. What each side would do by their written Strategic Integrated Operating Plan (SIOP)...tac nukes, counterforce nuke strikes, then cities if escalation, which both sides thought was dangerously likely, happened.

Lord knows lawyers and diplomats loves the ambiguity that enabless the games that are possible to be fought over to show their worth and skill - but the military and The People rationally detest such ambiguity and gamesmanship because they provide the dead or maimed flesh when such games go bad.

Such as the loss of rational conduct by several nations in the run-up to WWI because all sides Elites loved their little palace intrigues, fuzzy diplomatic language, and factions not a unified leadership around one agreed-to plan to block hostilities or wage decisive war.

Or the US screwup when our diplomats incorrectly signalled to Stalin that Japan was in the US sphere of protection, but S Korea was not.

Or the famous April Glaspie "miscommunication" with Saddam that we understood his grievances about Kuwait and would not intervene.

The most famous and misunderstood was the start of WWII, blamed now with elementary school simplicity on "Munich/Appeasement" when the causes were legitimate WWI revanchism, two aggressive leaders determined to advance the "rightful" place of their People and ideology, and two declining Empires that had retreated to ambiguity, "rule of lawyers", and diplomatic machinations to keep their dominance despite military and economic decline relative to other rival nations.

Germany was starved after it surrendered until it agreed to give up lands long held and long ruled by the German people. They wanted the Rhineland back, the German city of Danzig, and the German Sudetanland that was oppressed by rulers of a cobbled-together nation called Czechoslovakia that broke up just as Hitler thought it must when the Soviets fell. (Except like Gdansk, all the Germans had been killed or forced out post-WWII).

In his recent book, Pat Buchanan reminds us that there was considerable sympathy in other lands for Hitler's "just cause" of reclaiming lands under Wilson's 14 Points, which included self-determination of native peoples which had been blocked by the Colonial Empires while later becoming a post-Hitler UN cornerstone.
Most people agreed with the Munich decision. As they did when Hitler took the Rhineland back from the Occupier, and assimilated Austria in a wildly popular democratic vote by Austrians.
"Munich" is only seized on later as the "point at which Hitler should have been stopped" because neither Britain or France had any inclination to form a security pact to defend the now-surrounded Czech Bohemian Plain after Slovakia split off and the German terroritories were reassimilated into the Reich. Which is not appeasement - but realism by Germany, France, and the UK at the time.
The 1st great blunder was Hitlers in then double-crossing Chamberlain and the French and the Munich Agreement by realizing that he could take the fertile central plain, shorten his borders, and stop the Skoda Arms Works from equipping his rival nations without a fight.

That made Hitler "untrustworthy" and "lower class" to Brits obsessed with one's proper place and gentlemanly honor. (To the Brits, the worst part about Hitler was that he had been a mere corporal and from the lower workig classes).

Then as Buchanan claims, the next great blunder and trigger for WWII was the Brits and French operating in ambiguity deciding to screw Hitler in the face of Polish intransigence over any sea or land corridors guaranteeing free passage, no Pole Customs, to Danzig. Warning him not to, then saying they would treat a change in Danzig most seriously and they were with the Poles...but not spelling out it meant war if Hitler reduced Polish sovereignity over the German City-State.
Hitler believed that legally, he had the right under the 14 Points to demand a democratic election. When armed Poles at the Post Office resisted German pressure by firing on Germans, they were suppressed savagely by Germans already surrepticiously inserted & ready to fight. (Contrary to Appeasement! people in the old histories, the Polish attack does not appear to have been staged by Hitler).
Next thing you know, the clash led to Germans back in and France and Britain ending ambiguity with a war declaration and Stalin able to backdoor in and seize half of Poland...and we were on our way in WWII.

This was said as an historical reminder that retaliation is not revenge, and rather than "keeping all options open" ambiguity leads one side in the present era or terrorists and rogue nations with nuclear capacity to perhaps wrongly believe it can get away with nuking a foe....and instead of retaliation can be reasonably safe as the lawyers block military action until "courtroom verdicts" are obtained or "human rights guarantees" immunize their civilian populations and religious centers from nuclear counterstrike.

Ambiguity must end. It should claerly be communicated that nuking population centers or use of biowar is such a breach of existing treaty and law that:

1. Geneva, Hague WMD breach by attacking civilian population centers by sneak attack by WMD is so serious that the treaties will be held in abeyance until the threat is ended and the sternest retaliation meant to deter future such mass slaughters by an aggressor are meted out. Rules intended to preserve civilians are nullified by massive enemy attack on civilians - which ends teh reciprocity argument. Same holds about dams, religious sites, sites of significant cultural value if similar such treasures are lost in the initial aggressor's strike.

2. Law enforcement and the courts will not be used or be a path of recourse the enemy can use in time of nuclear/biowar emergency. In fact, the courts will be shut down to habeas appeals by enemy by direction of Congress and the President if the attacked nation is the USA.

3. An attack on one nation under treaty will be considered an attack on all.

4. People of a nation that provide WMD materials, financing, IDEOLOGY, technical expertise to WMD users MAY be held collectively responsible and not immune from massive counterstrike.

5. With damages in the trillions and up to several million lives lost, parties responsible WILL pay not just in blood and suffering, but in treasure as reparations will be demanded and collection perhaps enforced by a brutal occupation. And drafting, transport under guard and in shackles, then use of enemy civilians to clean up the radioactive rubble.

Unfortunately, nearly 7 years after 9/11, the lawyers, lawyers in robes, and diplomats are in charge - and if anything, the ambiguity of what a nation sneak attacked by terrorist or rogue nation nukes will do has both increased and signalled to radical Islamists and others that they should expect more enemy legal rights and more protection of their cvilians against couterstrike.
Which lessens the deterrance that they will try to do it, aware of the dire consequences.

6/18/2008 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger InternetFred said...

"Israel's WMD monopoly in the region that makes all others feel the need to get them themselves for military parity"

Why not argue that they desire military parity with Russia and the US, as both those nations can reach the whole middle-east?

6/18/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

Two words. Risk Management.

Commonalities between the Cold War and the current threat(s) disguise differences - devilish and pesky details. Obviously not productive to revisit the extensive debates of the past five years, but one window of opportunity that may have been opened by the Iraq campaign was the exposure of proliferating and nefarious weapons production - the so-called WalMart nukes [not to mention the depth of UN corruption, France’s lucrative oil contracts etc - all of which was valuable information that we hope has radically altered the West‘s perception of what constitutes appropriate foreign policy initiatives]. All of these fronts were interrupted at what may prove to be a critical point in the development timeline.

But they revealed characteristics that make the current threat very different from the Cold War. There are now more avenues of opportunity in a comprehensively networked and leaky world - not to mention more motivation as the have-nots are now in much closer proximity to the haves. Risk management strategies must evolve to fit the changed circumstances - and they are changed. That’s the nutshell version.

The other short story is the deep insight of our Founding Fathers - unvarnished by wishful thinking. They recognized the incorrigible nature of man and had little to no faith in his ultimate good will. But self interest. That was something reliable that could be harnessed to keep the peace. I am no expert on Conflict Resolution - in fact I don’t think many of the experts have much to offer on the subject. But I think that our Founding Fathers brought the best to the table that this planet has seen so far. It would be a shame to squander their legacy to us because we are now too sophisticated to authenticate concepts like enemy and, yes, evil. Not progressive in the post-modern world. where consequences bloom benignly like tulips in the garden of love.

6/18/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Hitler was certainly so misunderstood, I think we can all agree on that.

6/18/2008 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

It's telling that Wretchard would return to wildly speculative apocalyptic scenarios as a venue for revenge fetishism.

This is the complete opposite of the point. In a world of nuclear weapons, which BTW, al-Qaeda is on record as trying to obtain, the problem is how to avoid a holocaust. The best way to do that is to positively prevent it. That should be the goal of a conventional operations. Go after the particular gangs and bad guys.

The next best way to do this, historically speaking, is deterrence. I am making the argument that the breakdown of proliferation will create a different structure for deterrence than the current model.

Neither of these intellectual exercises is by any stretch of the imagination, a wish for a holocaust. That's what al-Qaeda wants. That's what counter-terror operatoins and deterrence seek to prevent.

By continuously ascribing good motives to the party which explicitly wants to use nuclear weapons and bad motives to the side which is assiduously seeking to prevent their use (remember we already have nukes, if we wanted to use them, we could), a kind of moral and strategic inversion takes place.

I hope it is not impertinent to point out that this inversion will eventually result in what you profess to fear; the gratification of al-Qaeda's own apocalyptic fantasies. Perhaps this inversion makes some people feel noble, but it doesn't make them right.

6/18/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger slimslowslider said...

"Britain, EU, and President Bush announce new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program intransigence. But the group gets implementation backwards in announcing a freeze on Iran’s Bank Melli assets before putting the freeze in place, allowing Iran to withdraw $75 billion in assets before action."

This is either collusion, appeasement or just plain dumbf**kedness. i think the second.

6/18/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Slade - Two words. Risk Management.

Another way of stating my case. With people divided and lawyers and diplomats preferring "ambiguity" - we have not used clear, strategic communications with the Islamists and the countries they draw supposrt in - so they understand the risk, and can properly employ risk management.

Which of course means on our side - getting confidence -that they clearly know consequences, will not cross the line accidentally, and in so doing, deterrance is established.

Right now, the failure of the West to agree, the mindset that of lawyers that they must be adversarial to the safety and lives of American people in orde to preserve terrorist civil liberties, has created a whole big gray area where neith side is certain of the risk, thus not certain of strategy that encompasses lowering risk.

In the West, a large body believes that The People are outside the discussion and "ONLY THE COURTS" can rule on how to face WMD threats in the post-bipolar world.

On the Muslim side, and on the Left - there is a lot of talk that a nuclear attack on the West would, or should leave "innocent civilian brown peoples" free of any harm, even in the country the nukes used came from - because the West is bound by laws and UN Delarations that Muslims, of course, bound by the higher will of Allah, cannot be.

"You may lose New York, London, Athens but our cities and people are safe because you are obligated by Geneva,Hague, Treaty to prevent open air nuke explosions, and International law about due process and prosecution only of those directly involved - to only take action on the few responsible and not strike back."

As long as Muslims believe a retaliatory strike is now "illegal" they will see low risk, and then make wrong risk MGMT decisions.

6/18/2008 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/18/2008 05:23:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

The fundamental logical fallacy of extreme militarism demonstrates itself in the reliance on blank-check reasoning.

By that I mean military aggressionists require an enemy that is wildly irrational in its aims, yet coolly logical in its means, abominably immoral in its tactics, yet practicing an ascetic lifestyle; so weak, it has no viable option beyond the suicide mission, yet so strong, it poses an urgent existential threat to the greatest military, economic, political, religious and cultural power mankind has ever known.

The right requires an enemy that is all things at all times. A foe so protean, it can only be confronted with absolute force and the moral, financial and political blank-checks to sustain it.

So it is that right-wing Americans find themselves agreeing verbatim with bin Laden's risible gangster bastardization of Islam. It is also why the American right longs for a regime that would mimic the old Soviet Union's fiendishly amoral military aggressionism and branding of dissent as disloyalty and critics as enemies of the state.

Given the need to sustain this unwieldy logic bubble, even a smart guy like Wretchard can't avoid creating straw men:


``By continuously ascribing good motives to the party which explicitly wants to use nuclear weapons and bad motives to the side which is assiduously seeking to prevent their use (remember we already have nukes, if we wanted to use them, we could), a kind of moral and strategic inversion takes place.''

It's a straw man because no one in this discussion has ascribed any "good motives" to terrorists. Wretchard's claim can only come from the logic that a critic of the state is therefore an enemy of the state and enemy of the state is therefore a supporter of the enemy. Stalin would be proud.

It is also this irrational stew that produces Wretchard's claim that his quest is to prevent a nuclear war, rather than simply to generate video-gamish scenarios in which a holocaust could be compelled against Muslims at large.

Let's stipulate that a suicide attack could not be deterred. When bin Laden calls the U.S. a "paper tiger," he doesn't mean that he believes it is morally incapable of genocide. Indeed, the lynchpin of his worldview is that the West is actively engaged in genocide against Muslims -- a view shared by many on America's militarist fringe. He's made plain that his view is that suicide attacks are necessary as a defense against this genocide, not as a tactic for destroying a "soft" enemy too morally confused to respond.

But America is NOT engaged in a genocide against Muslims. Rather, it is fighting Islam's militarist fringe and its nihilistic non-ideas. Bin Laden is plainly irrational and nothing more than a gangster who uses Islam strictly as an expedient to amass personal power. The Muslim world is waking up to that and, so, his status has plummeted from that of his days as a "freedom fighter" taking on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

If attacks cannot be deterred with threats of massive counterattacks, what are the options?

The only widely practicable approach is to gather as much intelligence as possible, continuously improve border security and port protection from airports to train terminals to shipping ports and to undermine radical Islam politically by promoting moderate Islam.

6/18/2008 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

Cedar ford - Another way of stating my case.

I noticed that area of confluence having posted BEFORE I read your writing upthread. I do not disagree fundamentally with the ambiguity issues except to say that a little uncertainty is sometimes food for thought. Risk management is tricky on a good day but when dealing with differently-attuned cultures, the ride is white-knuckles all the way.

I would also like to see term limits on Supreme Court appointees.

6/18/2008 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

MacDaddyo --

Clearly you have been off-planet for the last twenty years. Nothing you propose is supported by Dems, the Media, and particularly Barack Hussein Obama. Instead we propose all sorts of Criminal Courts protections for terrorists caught on foreign battlefields. After Boumedienne one terrorist is suing to be released (he killed a US soldier in Afghanistan with a grenade) because he was not Mirandized. I'm sure he will be released.

We can't listen in on AQ, we need a Judge to approve each and every wiretap in advance, even foreign to foreign comms. We can't "discriminate" or "profile" or do anything of that nature to travelers, mosques, and other terrorist centers. We have to mouth PC platitudes of "Islam is a Religion of Peace" when throngs call for "Death to the USA!" and stone women to death, and kill filmmakers they don't like -- in the West! It's a sentence of death to make a cartoon in the WEST that Muslims don't like.

Of course, Muslims are our enemy. You can't have freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc. in the West and have Sharia too, as Muslims demand. One has to conquer the other, and Muslims argue it will be them through extreme violence.

How do you propose to prevent Osama or some other group from getting a hold of several Pakistani, or North Korean, or Iranian nukes? Or preventing Iran from using Hezbollah as their tradition (Khobar Towers, Beirut) cutout?

Hugs, puppies, and rainbows won't cut it.

In order to prevent this, we'd have to empower the President to eavesdrop at will, kill terrorists without compunction, or torture them, or hold them forever, without lawyers or anything like that (which can lead to AQ and comrades knowing they are held and info they have is now potentially compromised). You'd have to profile like crazy, and authorize massive air and other strikes at will to prevent transport of nukes away from holding facilities. Every Muslim would have to be strip searched and closely profiled in every activity, every Mosque bugged and infiltrated, along with every Muslim charity.

If you do NOT want to do these things, then you must discuss retaliation.

You, like all Liberals, are unable and unwilling to make a choice. Choose nuked cities and all that flows from it, to preserve for just a little bit longer the 9/10 environment of no extreme measures.

Or accept that yes, curtailment of liberties, particularly and especially of Muslims, is preferable to nuked NYC and the absolutely inevitable retaliation.

You won't choose, so you will get both.

6/18/2008 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

After the Khobar bombing, FBI Director Louis Freeh asked then President Bill Clinton to call the Saudis to request release of the detainees so they could be interviewed by the FBI. Clinton refused because he was up for re-election and didn’t want gas prices to rise by exacerbating the relationship.

This is the policy that comes from “creating a narrative” that dilutes the threat posed by Jihadi terrorists as something that can be dealt with next term rather than as a serious and immediate threat that should transcend domestic political objectives.

No it’s not so simple that blame can be apportioned across ideological divide. In fact the point has been made many times on this site that partisanship might well be irrelevant to finding and implementing a solution to global aggression that has lasting value.

But it is that simple that voters can decide for themselves to reject an approach that marginalizes “irrational … gansters” mobbing their way to “personal power.” The old paradigms take on different tonalities when you’re packing heat the size of a nuclear weapon - in a suitcase or a container box.

The military industrial complex is alive and well and probably worth a look but not at the expense of reducing the severity of the enemy threat. There are other ways to deal with “aggressive militarists”.

6/18/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

McDaddyo said: "The speculations about retaliation is just a little too nakedly blood-lusty to be serious, especially in a discussion room populated by people who daily fantasize about conducting a holocaust against Muslims."

Your accusations of blood-lust and holocaust fantasies are delusions at best and prejudicial lies at worst. There is no more blood-lust here regarding our current Totalitarian Islamist enemies as compared to 1776 regarding our British enemies, or in 1941 regarding our Nazi and Imperial Japanese enemies. War is war, and it is bloody. The only question is whether war is just; and war is just when its object is defense of sacred life and liberty.

The only holocaust fantasies and holocaust planning is on the part of our Islamist enemies; they plan for it and they are, as we speak, seeking nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. Using nuclear weapons against our Totalitarian Islamist enemies would be justified in the event of such an attack on the United States, and it would also be justified as a means to pre-empt such an attack.

6/18/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Cedarford's portrayal of bin Laden and his ilk as a rational "risk managers" is another example of how far into dreamland the military aggressionist outlook can lead.

The bin Ladenists are gangsters whose survival requires exactly the opposite of risk management. The goal of risk management is to carefully identify and evade serious risks. The gangster survives only because he resolutely declines to acknowledge serious risks. Basing our security on the notion that suicidal terrorists can be counted on to manage risk is wildly irrational.

Bin Laden's sustaining vision is very similar to Wretchard's, apparently. Both see themselves arrayed against a Great Satan in an apocalyptic struggle that demands not ``risk management,'' but ongoing demonstrations of infinite ruthlessness.

Risk management has us securing ports, locking down air travel, investing the billions necessary to scan incoming sea cargo for radioactivity and losing our paranoia of Mexicans so we can focus on securing the border against WMD and terrorist incursion.
Risk management would have meant ensuring Saddam remained on the side of secular Arab nationalism, against Islamic extremism, rather than invading Iraq and delivering it to the Iranians and Shiite theocrats, thereby compelling secular Iraqi Sunnis to rely on fake religious gangsters from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for protection.
Risk management would recognize the role of moderate Islam in confronting and destroying radical Islam.
For Bin Laden, risk management would mean forswearing terrorism and returning to the Saudi monarchies approach to spreading Islam by funding Wahabi libraries, mosques and charities worldwide. I get the feeling he's not interested in that.

No one suggests the U.S. needs no conventional military protection. Long term, China poses a very significant challenge, as does a resurgent Russia. We have no choice but to maintain reasonable deterrents against those potential threats.
But radical Islam, undeterrable by its very nature, is already busily destroying itself, a process we can best facilitate by clearly, consistently, enthusiastically supporting moderate Muslim leaders worldwide and by condemning bin Laden's supporters, his "useful idiots" on the American right.

6/18/2008 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger NY GOPer said...

Should a European city get nuked the left, especially the New York Times and the rest of the MSM which does none of its own research but only refers back to the NYT's, will say it was America's or George Bush's fault. This will bog down the American response (there will not be a European response because they have already emasculated themselves) and allow the perpetrators time to move their resources into a safe haven and to blend back into the crowd.

What both of the two candidates must quietly say to operatives in the State Dept., CIA, and various foreign emissaries, prior to the election, is that no option is off the table. Regardless of what rhetoric they use to appeal to the American electorate our enemies must be made aware that a threat or a perceived threat to American interests will not be tolerated and our Allies will be defended because their safety is one of our interests.

6/18/2008 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

Bin Laden's sustaining vision is very similar to Wretchard's, apparently. Both see themselves arrayed against a Great Satan in an apocalyptic struggle that demands not ``risk management,'' but ongoing demonstrations of infinite ruthlessness.

The circle is complete.

A rose by any other name.

6/18/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

McDaddyo said: "military aggressionists require an enemy that is wildly irrational in its aims, yet coolly logical in its means, abominably immoral in its tactics, yet practicing an ascetic lifestyle; so weak, it has no viable option beyond the suicide mission, yet so strong, it poses an urgent existential threat to the greatest military, economic, political, religious and cultural power mankind has ever known."

The error here is the prejudicial phrase: "military aggressionists," and the word: "require." First of all, our military forces are engaged in a just war against jihadi aggressionists; our fight is in defense of life and liberty; theirs is an aggression against the sacred human rights of man. Secondly the United States does not require any enemy, but we do not fear the struggle for life and liberty - for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren.

“It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.” Thomas Jefferson

McDaddyo said: "The right requires an enemy that is all things at all times. A foe so protean, it can only be confronted with absolute force and the moral, financial and political blank-checks to sustain it."

No, McDaddyo, American conservatives have no requirements for the enemies of our life and liberty other than our requirement for their surrender. This Totalitarian Islamist foe is multifaceted, but the foe is not all things at all times. The immorality of our enemy’s murdering and coercing Sharia Law and its mass-murdering Jihad will be confronted with the morality of sacrificial service and duty - not a blank check. Your verbose pontifications and metaphors are false.

McDaddyo said: "It is also why the American right longs for a regime that would mimic the old Soviet Union's fiendishly amoral military aggressionism and branding of dissent as disloyalty and critics as enemies of the state."

No, McDaddyo, American conservatives do not long for a bloody struggle against evil, we long for peace under liberty; leftists such as you appear willing to settle for peace under tyranny.

Dissent and criticism of just war in defense of liberty can make one an enemy of liberty.

6/18/2008 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

If you do NOT want to do these things, then you must discuss retaliation.

McD's ravings are a lot easier to decipher if you just consider him to be a Muslim, and that everything he writes is a form of taqqiya and a lie. Then he doesn't have to make sense, or even to agree with himself in the same post.

And since everything he writes is a lie, why respond to him? Or even read what he posts.

I have to wonder why beings like McD seek out sites like Belmont, when he has admittedly been banned from other places for the same sins he is committing here. Surely he doesn't think his lame rationalizations are going to change anyone's mind. Is it just for the attention factor, since every single topic *always* comes back to the topic of McD?

Either that, or he's a CAIR front man.

6/18/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Storm-Rider said...
"...leftists such as you appear willing to settle for peace under tyranny."

Especially since they expect to be the tyrants.

6/18/2008 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"Israel's WMD monopoly in the region that makes all others feel the need to get them themselves for military parity"

More lying horseshit from the obsessed misfuck. Israel has had nukes for damn near thirty years and everyone knows it. But it is only recently when *Iran* started making moves to go nuclear that everyone else in the region started shitting their pants. That's because despite their rhetoric, they know damn well that Israel's nukes are strictly for deterrence.

Incidentally, Mickey D was all over Fred in another thread for allegedly being a "bigot" but he's jim-dandy with C-fudd's endless sewer of Jew-baiting rants. I guess that's because Mickey is just another hypocritical left-wing antisemite. He's against "bigotry", as long as it suits his debating points.

6/19/2008 12:34:00 AM  
Blogger xennady said...

Put me down as another vote that Europe will do nothing in response to a nuke attack other than blame the United States. And if the US does something in response, they will blame the US even more.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see mobs of angry Zeropeans attacking the local US embassy, if it still exists.

Europe is no friend of the United States. We should act accordingly. If a European city dies, the US should let them deal with it.

Or not.

6/19/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

gary rosen,

I chose to not defend myself against Mickey D's accusations against me. And I know that I am no bigot. He doesn't know that my roommate at the University of New Hampshire in my junior and senior years was a Shia Muslim from Tehran. I associated with Persians and Arabs there (but finding the Persians better company). I'm not a bigot. I'm discriminating about the company I keep.

Yes, I am bigoted about Islam. I detest it. I think it was the creation of Muhammad's sock puppet. It's all a fake, and a vicious, retrograde, reprobate cult. It elevates degeneracy and irrationality, and attacks all that is civilized and good.

Yes, I am a bigot that way. I consider a compliment, not an insult.

6/20/2008 07:54:00 PM  

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