Wednesday, July 27, 2005


The Tancredo Kerfuffle

Or Tom Tancredo is nuts but Stephen Den Beste is a genius.

I having been reading through the blogophere and only a few blogs have made the connection between what Tom Tancredo said and the Wretchard's Second Conjecture and Den Beste's response. (I am proud to say that Brain Droppings is one of those sites thanks to the inimitable John O) One thing I have noticed is that there has been no mention by Charles Johnson of this incident on LGF although there are a few mentions in the comments section. Glenn Reynolds' says that Tancredo is "...sounding pretty dumb..." and he points to Hewitt's fisking of Tancredo but he doesn't make much of a comment and, from my experience reading instapundit I would say that Reynolds is reserving his opinion waiting for more information and/or that he does not have a strong opinion. As I mentioned in 100 Tancredos, more than a few blogs have taken Tancredo out to the woodshed. Hewitt went as far as to accuse the congressman of publicity seeking.

There's a reason they are leading and Tancredo is simply milking rage and anger for personal benefit. They are interested in the national security and victory in the GWOT. Congressman Tancredo is interested in, well, Congressman Tancredo.

Among the smaller, far less than higher being blogs I have seen a mixed response. LaShawn Barber is as passionate in her defense of Tancredo as Hewitt is critical.

Say what you will about me. I couldn’t give a rat’s behind. Criticism from conservative bloggers, particularly on my defense of Tancredo, means as much to me as the daily dung dropped by the most rabid and vacuous liberal bloggers who, ironically, live to read my blog.
Kind of makes this blurb from Hewitt concerning Barber seem a little ackward, "She's a rising star of the blogosphere..." Yup, a rising star who just said that Hugh by proxy is a "so-called conservative" who "caves to PC pressure" and has "become indistinguishable from liberals." Ouch! Heh! Indeed!

I don't believe that Tancredo deserved the heap of scorn that was delivered after the Mecca bombing comment. For one, he was speaking extemporaneously during a radio interview about possible threats we could issue to the Muslim world if a nuke was detonated in the U.S. I have no problem with someone who says that this is bad form, a particularly British way of saying that it is rude to say in polite company; although I disagree with this point of view. But the visceral nature of some of the responses struck me as revealing a fissure in the coalition that supports the GWoT. I can't discount the possibility that some of this anger directed at Tancredo has something to do with the fact that he is carrying the ball for Republicans when it comes to restricting immigration. During my search of the blogosphere I ran across a mention of the Three Conjectures by Joseph Cutler, a precocious undergrad at Washington and Lee University:

Machiavelli offered two ways to deal with potential enemies: you can either induce them to love you, or fear you. Thus far, in the Muslim world, America has chosen the former route. NeoConservativism foreign policy is not a warmaking philosophy, it is a peace making one. At its very core, it accepts that American way of governance can be applied anywhere [drawing from American universalism], and that American can survive the long effort it takes to reform our enemies]. I do not mean to suggest that our venture in Iraq is a touchy-feely venture that involves throwing flowers at our enemies, but its ultimate goal is, at the moment, to create an Iraq that is pro-American and gradually changes perceptions in the Muslim world towards us.

Repeated nuclear strikes in the United States undercuts the second assumption. Nuclear terrorism is a direct and obvious threat to the American way of life and democracy. It simply cannot work where one person retains the ability to destroy entire cities - an open society becomes obsolete. If the second assumption of NeoConservative foreign policy is moot, than America cannot act with the intentions of being loved - it must return to coersion, and be feared. Potential nuclear annhilation tends to the clear the mind.

In the current atmosphere of "inducing love," Tancredo's idea is unhelpful. Threatening Mecca will not bring them into our camp, and largely negates our efforts to create good will in Iraq. It will be broadcast daily by Al Qaeda's propaganda arm at Al Jazeera and elsewhere. Nevertheless, in the context of coersion, nuclear retaliation [not necessarily Mecca: our goal is to scare them, not to turn the entire region into fanatics] is most certainly on the table.

As Mr. Cutler points out, the Bush doctrine, or Neoconservatism if you prefer, is dovish in that we are trying to win over the Muslim people of the Middle East by removing dictators and promoting democracy. He believes that Tancredo's conjecture hurts the effort to win over Muslims to our side and I cannot say that is not true. Then really what we are talking about is the need to win moderate Muslims to our side and should we use sticks as well as carrots. I believe Machiavelli would encourage both approachs. Good cop/Bad cop works on many different levels and removing fear from our relations with the Muslim world does nothing to serve our cause.


PBS watch wants us to define to whom we are at war, and he has a plan:

Hewitt tells us "We are not in a war with devout Muslims. We are in a war with Muslims who think that their faith compels them to kill non-believers and the nations that support those extremists. " Wrong. We are in a war both with Muslims who think that their faith compels them to kill non-believers and with Muslims who refuse to combat the terrorist threat in their midst as well as those nations that support the extremists. So far that adds up to the vast majority of the Muslim world. Hewitt and others hypothesize a peace loving Islamic silent majority. As yet we can only say that this putative group is definitely silent. I see no evidence that it is a majority. I made a suggestion several months ago of which I am sure Hewitt would not approve. I suppose I must therefore give up any claim to membership in the center right, but my plan does have the advantage of being far more effective than Tancredo's.

Again, the question is how do we engage the moderate Muslims in the GWoT.

Capt. Morrissey at Captain's Quarter sets up the strawman that Tancredo's Threat is part of MAD strategy targetting fundamentalist Muslims.

The Tancredo Threat assumes that the militant-Islamist terrorists are rational and temporal human beings, concerned more with life and temporal power than they are with the death-cult religion they profess. But what if they are not? What if at least some of them are really what they appear to be -- irrationals concerned not with this world, but only with the next?

But we must assume that the majority of Muslims who are chosing to remain silent in this war are rational and will respond accordingly. If the entirety of the Muslim religion is irrational then it doesn't matter what we say.

There is a lot of talking past each other going on in this debate. For a second, let's forget about whether Tancredo's rhetoric is harmful. Is it true? Meaning, how will America respond to nuclear terrorism? No matter what target Tancredo suggested we should be open to the idea of having a debate about a scenario which is a small but not insignificant possibility.

Update II:

Viking Pundit: Yes, surely it’s an unthinkable idea this disproportionate retaliation, until about one second after the images of a vaporized Baltimore shipyard hit American TV screens. Then you won’t hear any more of that perfunctory chatter about the “religion of peace.” Everybody – including James Lileks – knows this to be true.


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