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Politics In the Rear National will and developments back home for the intervening nations.

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Old 08-03-2007   #1
LawVol
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Default Tancredo: Bomb Muslim Holy Sites

I'm almost speechless here. Thankfully, this guy doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming the commander in chief:

Quote:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo’s campaign stood by his assertion that bombing holy Muslim sites would serve as a good “deterrent” to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from attacking the United States, his spokeswoman said Friday.

“This shows that we mean business,” said Bay Buchanan, a senior Tancredo adviser. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that. But he is open-minded and willing to embrace other options. This is just a means to deter them from attacking us.”

On Tuesday, Tancredo warned a group of Iowans that another terrorist attack would “cause a worldwide economic collapse.” He said that attacking Muslim holy sites first would be the only means to prevent terrorists from attacking America. IowaPolitics.com recorded his comments.

“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo said. “That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”

Tom Casey, a deputy spokesman for the State Department, told CNN’s Elise Labott that the congressman’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy.” Tancredo was widely criticized in 2005 for making a similar suggestion.
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

It shows a complete disconnect with COIN, anti-terrorism, and international law.
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Old 08-03-2007   #2
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Breathtakingly stupid. I am sure no one would want to, you know, take revenge for such an act.

Congress is beyond satire.
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Old 08-03-2007   #3
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Quote:
“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo said. “That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”
And, of course, no other power would ever think that this would be a really good way to take the US down? I won't ask if Tancredo has ever read Sun Tzu - from this quote I expect the reaction would be "done what with who?" - but, just maybe, he has one or two people on his campaign who might be capable of thinking? Would he suggest bombing the Vatican since the current pope is opposed to birth control and, obviously, spreading a vile anti-democratic message? Not only does it show "a complete disconnect with COIN, anti-terrorism, and international law" (thanks, LawVol), it also shows a capacity for thought on par with a two-year old in a sandbox.

You know, back in the 17th and 18th centuries, there used to be a school of thought called "degenerationism" that argued that humanity had fallen from a pristine state and was getting steadily worse. When I read something like this, I keep hoping that an Aristophanes will arise and yet all we get is Michael Moore. Maybe the degenerationists had a point...

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Old 08-03-2007   #4
Nat Wilcox
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Default I must have got hold of some bad s**t.

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It's clear to me that neither the deterrence nor retribution goals of much law enforcement are interesting here...as you say yourself, the hardcore guys aren't going to be deterred by anything, being willing to immolate themselves to kill my cats. And I'm not interested in vaporizing Medina in retribution for Cleveland. I'm sure you agree.
Or at any rate, that's what I wrote three weeks ago. Would someone wake me up, please?
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Old 08-03-2007   #5
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Nice shot!

Isn't this idea what some would call suicide attack?

A "cultural suicide attack" in that case.

I award it the title of funniest post of the day.

Last edited by Dominique R. Poirier; 08-03-2007 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 08-03-2007   #6
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Quote:
all we get is Michael Moore.
Michael is rather middle of the road compared to Tancredo

Now Tancredo and Pat Robertson....

That's the ticket!

Tom
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Old 08-03-2007   #7
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Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
Now Tancredo and Pat Robertson....

That's the ticket!
Hmmm, gives me some new ideas about "combined action teams" ! Oh, please, can we send them to Afghanistan to do PRT work !!!!!!!!
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Old 08-04-2007   #8
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Default Tom T. out crazies Obama

Wasn't it one of bin Laden's 9/11 goals to push the US into this kind of overreaction? Tommy doesn't seem to think we have any Muslim allies.
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Old 08-04-2007   #9
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Maybe this is just overcompensation on the Democrat's part in attempting to overcome perceived deficiencies in the national defense arena. I can appreciate the effort here, but have they lost their freakin' mind?!? This is obviously not the way to go about it.

Tancredo seems content with generating an entire world of muslim enemies while Obama wants to attack an ally an seal off our supply route to Afghanistan. Meanwhile,it pains me to say, Clinton comes off looking more presidential.

The Pakistani foreign minister summed it up nicely when he said that he hoped a closely fought election wouldn't harm relations between the country.

I'm hardly believing all this BS. Is this what it was like in the 60s?
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Old 08-04-2007   #10
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Default Foolish but somewhat useful

Tancrado's "deterrent" would obviously be a strategic mistake, but the suggestion is somewhat useful in countering the argument of the Islamist movement that we are at war with Islam, because it telegraphs what might happen if we really were at war with Islam.
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Old 08-04-2007   #11
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Hi Merv,

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Originally Posted by Merv Benson View Post
Tancrado's "deterrent" would obviously be a strategic mistake, but the suggestion is somewhat useful in countering the argument of the Islamist movement that we are at war with Islam, because it telegraphs what might happen if we really were at war with Islam.
Hmmm, I can see the logic, but I'm not sure I agree with the effects. First off, would it even be possible for the US to be "at war" with a religion? Second, it strikes me that that is exactly the type of mindset shift that the irhabis want - it validates their "Crusader" narrative and the entire meta-structure of this being a religious war which I, for one, refuse to accept (it may be a "spiritual war", but that's a topic for anther thread).

Marc
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Old 08-04-2007   #12
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Default credible threat?...if not, no deterrence...hmm

In extensive games (that is, games that unfold over time, sequentially), people frequently talk about the credibility of a threat...the formal development of the theory of credible threats is associated with a German, Reinhard Selten, who received the 1994 Nobel prize in part for that. Here's a nice picture of Reinhard:

selten.jpg

One interesting thing about Reinhard is that aside from being a theorist of the first order--one of the main developers of "high game theory". that is "super-rational game theory"--he was also maybe the primary proponent of experimental methods in the European economic community, and a strong proponent of empirical discipline in understanding how people actually do play games, as opposed to how they ought to according to the maxims of high game theory. Reinhard believes very sincerely that a lot of how people do in fact play games is highly psychological. So I think he would agree that for a frightful threat to really be credible, we have to think about the psychology of people who would carry out the threat.

My impression is that you military folks have understood all this very well, for a long time...that credibility depends strongly on the automaticity of retaliation, and of course that was one of the main themes in Dr. Strangelove: The reason that the "Doomsday Machine" was credible is that it was automatic and could not be tampered with. Retaliation was guaranteed--taken out of the hands of human decision makers who might fail to carry out the frightful retaliation. Yet the belief that it would be carried out is of course essential to making sure it never has to be.

Anyway, my impression is that in the frightening world of real nuclear strategic deterrence, you military folks had to confront this credibility issue head-on, creating elaborate layers of checks on "human weakness". And sensibly so. I cannot imagine being the person commanded to turn a key that would obliterate any city, even a Soviet target after a first strike on us.

Yet I can imagine the psychological training of the soldiers given these frightening responsibilities. In part, it would have to be based on "good reasons," that is some sort of clear understanding of the connection between the intended targets and the decision makers who are responsible for the awful first move. In the nuclear standoff of MAD, the required connections can perhaps be made reasonable (Your industrial city for ours; our cities, society and leadership are one, and so it is with the enemy.) Soldiers entrusted with those kinds of heavy responsibilities in some sense need to know why--extremely clearly. They need a plausible "moral script" if you like. Without it, if and when the time comes, how can they be depended on to do the awful deed?

I cannot see any easy way to establish these kinds of connections for the purpose of deterring nonstate actors with the threat of destroying (say) Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām. Is it actually possible to train soldiers to believe that such an action is based on "good reasons?" The connection between (say) OBL and (say) Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām is at best tenuous. OBL does not direct Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, and he does not receive directions from it. Could you even depend on airmen to carry out such a frightful command?

If not, there is no credible threat, and non-credible threats cannot deter.

So, I wonder if in this sense there is just something deeply flawed with even the idea of such threats, at least for the purpose of deterrence. I know that soldiers have successfully carried out frightful commands in the past--we can all think of obvious examples from the last few years of WWII. But all of the examples I can think of have two characteristics: (a) They follow a long period of successive escalations of the scale of destruction, and (b) they also involve targets that fit into some plausible "moral script" for the action.

Last edited by Nat Wilcox; 08-04-2007 at 09:01 PM. Reason: added stuff
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Old 08-04-2007   #13
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Tancredo has had similar outbursts regarding the situation along the Mexican border. It's something of his stock in trade.

As for Obama...I think what he was doing was more or less saying that nothing was off the table for him in regard to some situations. And I can't say that it bothered me too much, because at least he HAD a position and wasn't afraid to express it. Saying he'd launch attacks along the Pakistan border isn't the same thing as doing it, and I'd rather have him be up-front about the possibility than dither and two-step about it, launch some kind of half-assed misdirected standoff strike, and then deny knowing anything about it later.
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Old 08-07-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
It shows a complete disconnect with COIN, anti-terrorism, and international law.
But it unfortunately shows a great connect with the views of many of our countrymen and women who willfully choose to remain disconnected and believe that ignorant approaches/responses are the solution.

Cheers,
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Old 08-07-2007   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawVol View Post
I'm almost speechless here. Thankfully, this guy doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming the commander in chief:

It shows a complete disconnect with COIN, anti-terrorism, and international law.
Gentlemen,

I could turn on the radio and turn it to the AM frequency of any talk radio station around here and within minutes hear similar "solutions" to fighting terrorism and resolving the situation in Iraq. Really, this kind of armchair strategy passes for conventional wisdom on the "local Limbaugh" shows on the airwaves around here. Maybe not where you are, but it is pretty common in these parts. Chalk it up to the appalling state of our educational system, "end times" dispensationalist theology, or just willful ignorance.

I am reminded of the words of Captain Louis Renault in the film Casablanca:
I'm shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling going on here!

Likewise, is anybody shocked,shocked to hear a "kill 'em all, let Allah sort 'em out" mentality from a candiate making a not so subtle appeal to this constituency in a campaign?
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Old 08-08-2007   #16
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reminds me of a scenario one gov't consultant suggested in private. Spray liquid pig over a town you're about to move into, make what you did known and remind them they won't go to heaven "wearing pork". He believed this would reduce insurgent activity out of "self-preservation".

Last edited by MountainRunner; 08-08-2007 at 09:16 PM. Reason: minor edit to bring it up to 3rd grade level
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Old 08-08-2007   #17
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MountainRunner - That's priceless. Reminds me again that The Arab Mind is still on the Commandant's reading list.
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Old 08-09-2007   #18
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My very unscientific theory as to why this mentality persists in this country, developed while being regularly driven to Dulles International by Ghanaian taxi drivers much more attuned to the international scene than my countrymen, is that:
  • The United States is geographically isolated from most of the world, unlike Europe where one can face in any direction, drive for a few hours, and arrive in another country and culture, coupled with;
  • American citizens not being forced by economic necessity to pick up and travel to other places. Only a small percentage do so because they can, and we haven't had a worldwide conflagration to force sufficient numbers of young adults to see other places and realize Rush might not know what the hell he's talking about.
I'm probably off the mark, but it works for me when I'm fielding the "what the hell is going on over there" while traveling internationally.

Cheers,
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Last edited by redbullets; 08-09-2007 at 02:16 AM.
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Old 08-09-2007   #19
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Hi redbullets,

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Originally Posted by redbullets View Post
My very unscientific theory as to why this mentality persists in this country, developed while being regularly driven to Dulles International by Ghanaian taxi drivers much more attuned to the international scene than my countrymen, is that:....
That's certainly an explanation that has been used by a lot of people in sociology, political economy and political science. Of course, most of them were Americans .

Canada shares the same geographic isolation as the US does and the same movement patterns (actually, slightly less mobile than the US), so you would expect to find the same attitudes, but you don't. Maybe Canadians are "more aware" of international events because the US is foreign but Canada doesn't hold the same dominating position in the US worldview.

Maybe it stems from the differences that came about as a result of your revolution with the US focusing inwards and on the frontier while the Canadian colonies (and later Canada) maintained strong ties with Britain. It may also have to do with historical differences as to how each of us has dealt with immigrant populations or with our differing conceptions of citizenship and identity.

Honestly, I don't know why the difference exists, but I do know that the "standard" reasons just don't face up to the comparative case.

Marc
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Old 08-09-2007   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marct View Post
Maybe Canadians are "more aware" of international events because...Canada doesn't hold the same dominating position in the US worldview.
Drawing conclusions from my admittedly small but intensely familiar sample (my wife and I...she being Canadian), I think relative size and influence are extremely important in shaping perceptions and attitudes. In fact, I have come to think this is a very subtle effect and difficult to really appreciate...it took me many years to really begin to grok my wife's peculiarly Canadian perspective.

Think of the famously funny map of New York City, too, with the rest of the U.S. beyond the Hudson River a small and empty space. New Yorkers can be extremely provincial about the rest of the U.S., in the own peculiar way, due to the city's size and influence in the U.S. universe.
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