July 15, 2003


Noting that the forces driving Muslim terrorism operate across several Middle Eastern nations -- usually at a less-than-official level, making it difficult to isolate and pin responsibility on individual governments -- Australian navy captain Peter Layton ponders a multi-state deterrent nuclear retaliation policy:

A declaratory policy could be devised based on the threat of retaliation if an attack occurs in the West by nonstate actors using the Arab way of war. In such a circumstance, there could be a strategy of instant, graduated response: nuclear strikes against several of the capital cites of the Middle Eastern nations that long have demonstrated support for this method of war. The response's intensity and discrimination would vary based on the severity of the WMD attack. This approach would be a policy of deterrence through the threat of brutal and immediate punishment of particular societies.

In this new application, the citizens of several Middle Eastern nations would be held responsible for their own actions, rather than the actions of their governments. The societies' futures would be in their own hands.

There also should be an incentive to motivate Middle Eastern societies to change their ways and be taken off the instant-response list. The Arab way of war starts in the schools and educational facilities of particular nations. Twenty years after a society stops teaching children to hate and kill, and twenty years after the last attempted terrorist attack by the members of that society, their capital should cease to be targeted.

The above -- originally published in March -- is an edited extract. Go read the whole thing.

(Thanks to reader Zsa Zsa for the tip)

Posted by Tim Blair at July 15, 2003 11:12 PM

Hey, who invited Machiavelli to this party?

Buy that guy a beer!

Posted by: Brian J. at July 15, 2003 at 11:38 PM

And five minute later the Islamic Brotherhood For Worldwide Misery would deliberately target the US in order to bring on the nuclear devastation that would enable it to recruit more losers to the holy cause. If there's a more perfect way to play their game, I can't think of it. Mutually Assured Destruction works when both sides actually don't WANT mutual destruction.

Posted by: Mike G at July 15, 2003 at 11:48 PM

Uh, they've already targeted the US.

Unless they were aiming for Big Ben on September 11, 2001, and missed.

Posted by: Brian J. at July 15, 2003 at 11:52 PM


Does that include when the Arabs decide to slaughter Jooooos, too?

Posted by: AG in Houston at July 16, 2003 at 12:22 AM

Okay, slower this time:

And five minutes later they would do something to provoke the nuclear response. Not something in the PAST, but something NEW, to specifically cause the nuclear response.

Posted by: Mike G at July 16, 2003 at 12:36 AM

I'm not exactly supporting the idea, Mike. But part of it, which you're ignoring, is that the targeting would make people in those societies realize that they're all in it together. Right now, moderate Muslims often look the other way when their radical brothers do their jihadi thing. If we said that we were going to start holding whole countries accountable, and punish whole countries, this would give the moderates more incentive to police their own.

This might also work with something less punitive than nukes. It's worth some thought.

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at July 16, 2003 at 12:48 AM

I don't think determent would work too well on terrorists who are willing to blow themselves up. Especially terrorists who originate from nations that aren't on the hit list.

What is this "well behaved for 20 years" tripe? So after 10 years of good behaviour a country is nuked because of a terrorist organisation originating from somewhere else? Some incentive.

When you are playing with nukes you can't afford to make any mistakes.

Posted by: Dan at July 16, 2003 at 01:02 AM

This is basically a distilled version of the Bush doctrine -- and essentially what the policy of the west is. A large WMD attack against the the US or her allies means the decapitation of any government which let it happen. This is what we did in Afghanistan. And, just to show the world that a WMD attack wasn't necessary, but would be sufficient -- we knocked over Iraq as well.

A large, coordinated WMD attack against several western cities would probably NOT result in nuclear strikes against civilian targets, but it would lead to an ultimatum more or less to the same ultimate effect: the removal of any governments remotely involved.

Posted by: Andrew at July 16, 2003 at 01:03 AM

Actually, we're not practising it, even in its mildest forms. A corollary of this policy would to use it on a local scale for inciteful imams like Al-Hillaly and their henchmen like Keysar Trad, using arrests and lax policing of mosques rather than weapons. This would at least teach them that their actions have consequences. Instead we've got turds like the HREOC actually trying to get muslimes off the hook for their hatemongering!

Posted by: Clem Snide at July 16, 2003 at 01:55 AM

Bearing in mind what the west did to the governments of Iraq & Afghanistan in a matter of weeks, I don't think we need to threaten nukes.....

Posted by: wilbur at July 16, 2003 at 02:07 AM

Threats are pointless when directed towards a culture wherin violent rhetoric is a highly polished art. The Arab relationship towards such rhetoric is entirely different from our own, as is their relationship to language itself. Such a threat would not "make people in those societies realize that they're all in it together" any more than actual Israeli action taken against the friends and relations of known Palestinian terrorists has.

The only way Layton's proposal would have any effect at all is when we detonate a nuclear device following another attack...thus becoming our enemy, lethally holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few. There is a vast difference between MAD--a strategy developed by a pair of states--and nuclear collective punishment as a means of enacting a cultural sea-change.

Capn. Layton's idea is morally obtuse to an almost absurd degree.

Posted by: Ian Wood at July 16, 2003 at 03:24 AM

Ian, there's a lot of distance between Israel's actions against friends and relatives and a nuke. You simply assert that the idea would only work with nukes, which we obviously can't do so let's forget the whole thing.

As for terrorism being just 'the actions of a few', I think the moral responsibility for it is spread around more liberally than that. But not the accountability, and that's one of the problems Layton's talking about.

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at July 16, 2003 at 05:03 AM

You guys are so hypothetical. You have no idea of the kind of panic and indiscriminate lashing out that would occur in the event of an actual nuclear attack. I only have a vague notion, myself, but I'm pretty sure it would be violent and relatively unrestrained. I would not expect Mecca and Medina to last very long, in any case.

Posted by: Reid at July 16, 2003 at 05:16 AM

The American war record should make us think. An observer who thinks of American foreign policy only in terms of the commercial realism of the Hamiltonians, the crusading moralism of Wilsonian transcendentalists, and the supple pacifism of the principled but slippery Jeffersonians would be at a loss to account for American ruthlessness at war.

Those who prefer to believe that the present global hegemony of the United States emerged through a process of immaculate conception avert their eyes from many distressing moments in the American ascension. Yet students of American power cannot ignore one of the chief elements in American success. The United States over its history has consistently summoned the will and the means to compel its enemies to yield to its demands.

Through the long sweep of American history, there have been many occasions when public opinion, or at least an important part of it, got ahead of politicians in demanding war. Many of the Indian wars were caused less by Indian aggression than by movements of frontier populations willing to provoke and fight wars with Indian tribes that were nominally under Washington’s protection—and contrary both to the policy and the wishes of the national government. The War of 1812 came about largely because of a popular movement in the South and Midwest. Abraham Lincoln barely succeeded in preventing a war with Britain over the Trent Affair during the Civil War; public opinion made it difficult for him to find an acceptable, face-saving solution to the problem. More recently, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were all haunted by fears that a pullout from the Vietnam War would trigger a popular backlash.

Once wars begin, a significant element of American public opinion supports waging them at the highest possible level of intensity. The devastating tactics of the wars against the Indians, General Sherman’s campaign of 1864-65, and the unprecedented aerial bombardments of World War II were all broadly popular in the United States. During both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, presidents came under intense pressure, not only from military leaders but also from public opinion, to hit the enemy with all available force in all available places. Throughout the Cold War the path of least resistance in American politics was generally the more hawkish stance. Politicians who advocated negotiated compromises with the Soviet enemy were labeled appeasers and paid a heavy political price. The Korean and Vietnam Wars lost public support in part because of political decisions not to risk the consequences of all-out war, not necessarily stopping short of the use of nuclear weapons. The most costly decision George Bush took in the Gulf War was not to send ground forces into Iraq, but to stop short of the occupation of Baghdad and the capture and trial of Saddam Hussein.

In short, the American public will live under the Islamofascist threat for only so long and will eventually demand that the threat be eliminated.

The excerpt is from The Jacksonian Tradition
by Walter Russell Mead.


Posted by: ZsaZsa at July 16, 2003 at 05:31 AM

Actually, I didn't "assert" that the idea would "work" at all.

What I said that the only way it would have an effect is following the actual taking of whatever action we threaten, due to the relationship to rhetoric and language found in Arab culture. An "effect" is not the same as success, and I used the word deliberately. I used nukes as an example because that's what Layton wrote about, and I took him at his word.

He wrote,

This approach is solely for deterrence, not war fighting, and would be another constant, worrying reminder to the Middle East's middle and wealthy classes that if they allowed the worst to happen to the West, they quickly would pay a heavy price.

My point is that "deterrence" is not a concept that translates very well into the Arab culture in general or the portions of that culture that are of particular concern to us.

No, action is what speaks to the groups that will actually carry out such attacks against us. And if we threaten action, we will have to take that action before it has any impact, let alone the desired effect. Anything else is just rhetoric to Arabic ears...and these are people who are routinely exposed to religious leaders who literally wave swords from the pulpit.

Therefore: if we threaten to nuke, we'll eventually have to nuke. If we threaten conventional assault, we'll have to launch one.

Which is, in fact, exactly what we're doing.

Layton's nuclear "pondering" is divorced from the reality of the nature of our enemy, and I find his notion of enforced accountability repugnant.

Posted by: Ian Wood at July 16, 2003 at 05:58 AM

Oops. Meant to write "...I find his notion of indiscriminately enforced accountability repugnant.


Posted by: Ian Wood at July 16, 2003 at 06:02 AM

There's a reason why, as Ann Coulter pointed out in her latest book, the Kaiser sank the Lusitania when a Democrat, Wilson was president, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor when FDR, a Democrat, was President, the North Koreans and Chinese agreed to an armistice when Ike was elected in 1952, the North Vietnamese felt safe in attacking South Vietnam when Kennedy and Johnson were presidents, why the Russians felt safe in invading Afghanistan and the Iranians felt safe attacking the US embassy when Carter was president, and returned the hostages IMMEDIATELY when Reagan took office, the Islamonazis were not afraid to attack US soil in the first WTC attack and, perhaps, Oklahoma City, when Clinton was president. The record of Democrat Presidents being weak and accommodationist and practically inviting home-soil attack was only broken by 9/11. This may have been because W's father did not press on to Baghdad in 1991. It's up to W to show the terrorists why they miscalculated. So far he's doing pretty well, but the writer is right. The whole Islamic world needs to get the message. How about a demonstration H-bomb drop on the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia, with the message, "Mecca is next"? Would that change their behavior?

Posted by: Robert Speirs at July 16, 2003 at 07:07 AM

"When you are playing with nukes you can't afford to make any mistakes."

Uh, no.
It's not US, that can't afford any mistakes. It's THEM that can't afford for US to make any mistakes.

For us, the consequences of us making a mistake is that we'll have to learn how to burn radioactive oil. And (a couple of generations from now) feel real bad about it.

That's for a mistake in one direction. If we make a mistake in the other direction, we'll see another 9/11 in San Francisco or Chicago or Seattle. And then the Middle East will become glass slag.

Posted by: fred at July 16, 2003 at 07:19 AM

What some of the posters above are not grasping is that you don't win the war on terrorism by deterring terrorists. You win it by (a) killing terrorists and (pay attention now) (b) deterring the governments who support and tolerate them from doing so in the future. The nuclear option is obviously directed at goal (b), not goal (a), and should be debated on that basis.

Posted by: T. Hartin at July 16, 2003 at 07:57 AM

Group Captain Layton sounds like a retarded orientalist spooging out this staff college paper onto the internet, perhaps after reading the first three chapters of Huntington or maybe Bernard Lewis after one too many sherries. He gives the multitude of outstanding officers of the RAAF (not the RAN, TB) a bad name.

"A major innovation of the Arab way of war is the deliberate targeting of civilians."

I wasn't aware that Harry Truman or Bomber Harris were Arabs, just to name two names that predate this 1970s "invention".

Still, well done finding this tasty trollbait, Blair.

Posted by: zilla at July 16, 2003 at 08:13 AM

First, thanks to ZsaZsa for posting an excerpt from the Mead essay that is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what makes America tick. As someone who grew up in the lower middle class culture of SoCal, I am Jacksonian in my blood, but never knew there was a name for "people like me."

Second, on topic, it appears to me that many of these arguments are futile because people have two major differing views of the conflict that lead them to advance wildly different solutions.

One approach holds that we are at war with Islamism. Islamism (Islamo-fascism) is a set of beliefs by which the non-national group, especially the Jews and the capitalists, have kept down a pure, proud "volk" who need to cleanse the earth of non-volkish persons so the racially pure chosen can live in their rightful place as masters of the world.

(sound familiar, anyone?)

If you believe this, you necessarily believe that we are at war against a *people*, just like we were at war against the Germans and the Japanese in WWII.

Another approach is that the problem is a sub-sect, a definable set of radicals, who must be separated out from the sea in which they swim and brought to justice.

One sees the issue as a war. The other sees the problem as mostly a law enforcement issue.

This is why, in my opinion, the two sides talk past each other and suggestions like that advanced by Capt. Layton immediately make sense to one group and are found instantly reprehensible by the other.

Who is right? Time will tell, but not in a good way, I think.....

Posted by: KevinV at July 16, 2003 at 08:16 AM

The problem is that the extremists who provoke terrorist acts believe in a religious way that islam WILL win.They are interested in provoking a pan islamic war against the rest of the world.

Sure this policy might discourage most people but hte extreme extremists will use it to provoke strikes maybe even strikes against places that are not their home towns. For example with suicide bombers the bomber himself is usually someone who had temporary insanity or some hot flash of bravado or somthing similar then the "mastermind" grabs him and teaches him how to blow himself up before he can change his mind and straps soe explosives to him. The "mastermind" could come from anywhere and the terrorist himself isn't thinking clearly about concequences.

If the west becomes desperate the better solution is all those CIA type things that the left always accuses america of doing. Infact of all strange things you could encourage comunism in the arab states. it might not be a great system but it can beat up on islamo-facism and you wont even get blamed for it.

Posted by: Scott at July 16, 2003 at 08:48 AM

Nuking Mecca is kinda tempting.....

But a program of targeted assassination, directed against radical imams operating in ANY country, would probably be more cost-effective. And deniable.
Please send a large cheque to...

Posted by: Keith at July 16, 2003 at 11:03 AM

Pay attention now:





Anyone who takes this idea seriously is a six-pack short of a slab. It's nuts. Cuckoo. Crazy.

Let's ignore the fact that it's morally repugnant and a war crime - being collective punishment - and concentrate on the practicalities.

What the hell would happen if you did this? All bloody hell would break loose, that's what.

We would, indeed, be on a highway to hell.

Luckily, it's an armchair wank, and thus likely to appeal only to dumbarse bloggers. I hope.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 16, 2003 at 11:26 AM

And the key word that Bon has missed today: "deterrent".

The plan is that the plan not be put in place.

Posted by: tim at July 16, 2003 at 11:53 AM

What Bon Scott said.

"The plan is that the plan not be put in place." Good thinking. We can rely on the good sense of the Islamist death-cultists to refrain from any more terrorists attacks when faced with the threat of nuking Karachi. I mean, for them not to be deterred...THEY'D HAVE TO BE INSANE! Jesus.

Posted by: Jimmy Doyle at July 16, 2003 at 12:09 PM

"The plan is that the plan not be put in place."

Amazing. You really said that.

"The plan is that the plan not be put in place."

Just had to repeat it once more, 'cause I couldn't believe it. But yep, there it is.

"The plan is that the plan not be put in place."

It would be funny if you weren't serious. Oh, what the hell: it is funny anyway.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 16, 2003 at 12:28 PM

Ummmm . . . if someone makes a threat against me that I know they won't carry out, why would it deter me?

Posted by: Mork at July 16, 2003 at 01:03 PM

Deterrent my ass. Grow up. Who are "they"? Who are "we"? Muslims comprise about 1/5 of the world's total population. These peoples are dispersed across every continent and in substantial concentrations in dozens upon dozens of nations. There is no convenient "other" (geographic, political or otherwise) for you to target. Are you going to nuke the Balkans? Or does the substantial Christian population make that impermissible? How about Georgia? Albania? Palestine? India? Morocco? Senegal? Zaire and the CAR? A number of recent suicide bombers have come from Britain. Should we nuke Britain too?

I would add that the weak governments of the Sudan, Ethiopia and Libya (to take a few celebrated examples) are hardly equipped to control a damn thing their citizens do. I don't follow what the citizenry at large are supposed to do about armed enclaves in their midst either. As for Saudi Arabia, there's a mutual defence agreement between them and the US, in addition to intricate diplomatic and financial ties. Maybe, just maybe, there's a moral there.

As for holding Mecca and/or Medina to hostage, the idea is completely fucking preposterous even if it were not morally reprehensible. First, Islam is as opposed to idolatry as is Protestantism and its offshoots (to provide a comfortable point of reference for the culturally ignorant) and you're entirely misunderstanding the significance of the holy sites. Second, I would submit that radicals would like nothing better than a symbolic attack that would light a fire under moderate Muslims. The concept of muslim solidarity in the face of attack ("jihad", although the term is misleading because of its constant incorrect Western usage) might well actually come about, and justifiably so. Third, your understanding of the psychology here is downright retarded. Are you suggesting that if "we" wanted to control the behaviour of the world's militant Catholics (say, oh, Phalangists massacring civilians in Sabra Shatila, clergy engaged in the Rwandan genocide) "we" should threaten to nuke the Holy See? Or to take another example I guess to control Orthodox Serb genocideaires in Bosnia we should have held Istanbul to hostage. I cannot think of anything that would engender violent opposition faster. Fourth, the notion of complete solidarity among "Western" states, whatever that means, bears no resemblance to geopolitical reality. Do you expect the other nuclear powers to sit tamely back while ICBMs are flying across their backyard? Or in Israel's case, easily within fallout distance? (Although, if we're talking Muslim holy sites I guess Israel would be among the first to get it under these grand schemes.)

Posted by: angry angry cracker at July 16, 2003 at 01:11 PM

What is it, Bon, about the word "deterrent" that you just don't get? Or the word "threat"? Or the notion that this policy would be "declared" as way of "deterring" attacks on the West by "threatening" massive reprisals?

Posted by: tim at July 16, 2003 at 01:48 PM

seems to me that our threats, when issued by folks who you knew would back them up, have been pretty effective deterrents.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at July 16, 2003 at 02:28 PM

Yes, but Tim, "the plan is that the plan not be put in place."

Tim, you've completely lost the plot on this one. It's meglomaniacal batshit, stupid on any level you care to examine it. If you're seriously putting this up as a policy option you have just demonstrated you haven't the faintest about, well, anything.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 16, 2003 at 03:14 PM

Some people have willfully misconstrued my remarks. I did not advocate nuking Mecca and Medina. I just said that the response to an actual nuke attack is going to be an indiscriminate and broadly based attack of rage and revenge using the greatest weapons arsenal ever assembled by man. The response to 9-11 would pale by comparison. A lot of Arabs would die, maybe most. Islam would cease to be a major religion on this planet.

I am not the agent, I merely foretell.

Posted by: Reid at July 16, 2003 at 04:05 PM

Bon ... the idea of a deterrent threat is to deter without carrying out the threat. It's kind of implied in the words, you know? Thus the line: "The plan is to not carry out the plan".

That's dumbing it down to a level at which squirrels and penguins might achieve comprehension. For you, however ...

Posted by: tim at July 16, 2003 at 04:36 PM

Come on, that's just stupid. No-one would ever take the threat seriously unless you actually did it . . . and you'd only do it if the threat had failed to deter.

Therefore, the deterrant value = zero.

Posted by: Mork at July 16, 2003 at 04:47 PM

Keep digging, Tim. I don't think your hole is quite deep enough yet.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 16, 2003 at 05:14 PM

Yeah, that stuff didn't work against the Soviet Union, which is still a world power rivalling the US.

Oh -- you mean, it isn't?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 16, 2003 at 05:53 PM

Seriously, Andrea, do I have to insult you by pointing out the differences between this nutty idea and cold war MAD?

Or perhaps you could amuse me by trying to explain the parallel . . .

Posted by: Mork at July 16, 2003 at 06:14 PM

"Keep digging a hole". The line you use when you're in a hole yourself.

Posted by: tim at July 16, 2003 at 06:20 PM

Jesus, as I read this post I wondered if it was April 1st, or whether there was some satiric subtext I wasn't getting.

So far as I understand tim's comment posts, the idea is to THREATEN to nuke cities but not actually ever do it. The inhabitants will believe our threats due to the Western world's known love of mass-murder of civilians.

Meanwhile, the terrorists will be aghast at insane threats of hideous violence from the Western world which will absoutely NOT cause large numbers of moderate Muslims to subscribe to their cause. Instead civilians in the threatened cities, cowering under the promise of obliteration, will root out extremists in their midst in Salem-like hunts, sobbing with fear as they offer them to the United States for judgement.

I mean, one need only look at the remarkable success Al-Qaeda have had in threatening and executing devastating violence against the population of the USA. Everyone there is now meekly subjugated to the will of Allah.

Give me a break, Tim. Fake threats of violence are useless and unjust threats of violence are worse than useless.

Posted by: ChrisV at July 16, 2003 at 07:23 PM

If the Islamacists start nuclear bombing western cities what more effective option does the West have but to start bombing them back in their heartland. (Tell me a better option?) Anyone who can't see the logic in this should just kill themselves now and be done with it. These Islamacists are talking heavy shit that they mean and you are still not hearing them. They will use nukes if they can. You pansies, cowards, idiots wouldn't know danger if if butt-fucked you dry!

Posted by: AussieJoe at July 16, 2003 at 07:27 PM

If the Islamacists start nuclear bombing western cities what more effective option does the West have but to start bombing them back in their heartland.

Ummm . . . how about finding the people who actually did it and killing them?

Posted by: Mork at July 16, 2003 at 07:38 PM

Assalamu Alaikum esteemed policy analysts:

I'm seriously shitting in my jubah. Which is a problem because we muftis don't wear the undergarments. But getting back to the conversation. If the kaffirs are going to use nuclear bombs, I can tell you right here and now, my monthly meetings with some not so nice boys from the Middle East are over. Stopped. Finito. I'm telling you right here and now. I'm sending that semtex right back to Udday. I shouldn't have said that, should I? I'm going to shut up now.

Allah Ta'ala [and Mufti of the Muff] Knows Best

Mufti of the Muff

Posted by: Mufti of the Muff at July 16, 2003 at 08:20 PM

Mork, I'm not too sure about what the response to a nuclear attack would be, but finding the people who actually did it and killing them sure seems lame.

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at July 16, 2003 at 10:53 PM

"How about finding the people who actually did it and killing them?" Good luck Mork! You will find them with Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the WMD's...and I wonder if they will be found in the Islamic heartland? Meanwhile, while your chasing the lackeys - a few other bombs have been set off in a few other cities...What now Mork?

Posted by: AussieJoe at July 16, 2003 at 11:02 PM

i notice that no one has yet responded to any of the intelligent comments made by one "angry angry cracker". you all just keep pretending like his total destruction of your lame "deterrence" theory doesn't exist.

Posted by: adam at July 17, 2003 at 12:07 AM

Am I the only one who feels that most of the negative comments are from people who either, did not understand the points the author was trying to make, or were simply too lazy to read the entire piece.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at July 17, 2003 at 01:25 AM

Adam: His first paragraph was crap. He argues that we couldn't strike Muslim countries becuase of their mixed populations and names a bunch of them. But there are plenty of overwhelmingly Muslim countries about, which don't get mentioned in that graf because they don't support his point.

2nd graf argues that some Muslim governments (oh, there they are) are too weak to stop terrorists, so we shouldn't expect anything. But this point was acknowledged in the original article. It is the societies that should be targeted, Layton argued. The societies are there (and often quite strong) regardless of the relative power of the government.

3rd graf: Asserts that the west doesn't understand the true meaning of "jihad" (although I did recently learn the true meaning of Christmas, but that's a made-for-tv special). What does this matter? It may be true but that doesn't exactly convince al Qaeda to stop killing us, does it? There's also the Muslims wouldn't care if we did nuke Mecca, and he knocks down a Western solidarity requirement strawman.

He makes a decent point about the likely Muslim response to such an attack (they won't be fans), but if this is only to happen after a nuke goes off in a western city, I think all bets are off.

Posted by: Brian O'Connell at July 17, 2003 at 01:41 AM


I stopped reading "angry angry cracker" when he mentioned that the "weak governments of the Sudan, Ethiopia and Libya ... are hardly equipped to control a damn thing their citizens do." The point of the posted idea, it seems, was to target (with threats) the citizens, not the governments, for exactly that reason.

Oh, and people? If I post something here and say that it's interesting or that you should read the whole thing, don't take that as a 100% endorsement. Just take it as "interesting" and "read the whole thing".

Posted by: tim at July 17, 2003 at 02:55 AM

If that's the case, Tim, why have you spent the whole comments thread defending this loon?

Yeah, I did read the whole thing, and jolly boring it was too. Also tendentious, bloodthirsty and historically inept.

You shouldn't have given in though Tim, 'cause I was just about to admit defeat in the face of your most excellent argumentative skills and say that, of course, this is a wonderful idea that has a 100% chance of success.

Just one modest proposal, though: nukes are awfully expensive. Wouldn't it be cheaper to use, say, domestic passenger planes and fly them into local landmarks instead?

Just a thought.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 17, 2003 at 10:17 AM

I wasn't necessarily defending; I was explaining.

Posted by: tim at July 17, 2003 at 11:10 AM

Passenger planes aren't cheaper, Bon. And nukes have this advantage, they're pilotless.

Posted by: d at July 17, 2003 at 01:01 PM

d, you are beyond parody. I bow to your greatness.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 17, 2003 at 01:08 PM

You know what? I was going to put a long post in here about how I actually agree that in this situation a MAD-type deterrent system won't work because back then there were two stable systems and now there is one stable system and an assortment of crazies, but seeing as how some of you (Bon, Mork, Angry Angry Crackhead) would rather scream and posture, I won't bother.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 17, 2003 at 04:03 PM

Bon Scott,

That was a very thorough demolition of Layton's proposal. Your comments are as insightful as ever.

Keep working on your vocabulary.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at July 17, 2003 at 04:15 PM

So laughing at utterly loony shit is now screaming and posturing? Cool.

Posted by: Bon Scott at July 17, 2003 at 05:09 PM

"I wasn't necessarily defending; I was explaining."

to explain is not to justify? didn't chomsky try that once? i'm sure you instantly saw through it, unless of course you posted this because it was "interesting".

Posted by: adam at July 17, 2003 at 10:19 PM