This whole business about “pre-emptive nuclear strikes”, or to put it more generally, the problem of possible runaway nuclear war originating from the Islamic world, was precisely what the Three Conjectures warned about. It argued back in those Halcyon days that we had a Golden Hour to fix things by a combination of political and targeted military action.
If the world didn’t then it would end badly. And the more enlightened a society pretended to be, the more viciously it would demand its safety. Right now, as I write, the electricity grids are flickering in and out in New South Wales. It’s summer and the airconditioners are crashing the grid. The bulbs are dimming in some places. We know a restaurant that lost all the food in the freezer.
Cool air, chilled wine, nice wheels. All that goes away when energy runs out. And the finely tuned hospitals, with just enough capacity to handle trauma cases from calculated historical demand will be overwhelmed at the slightest spike. People simply can’t imagine a world where the ATMs stop, the supermarket runs out of food, electricity dies and you go to hospital to find a field full of mangled people lying on the lawn waiting their turn at triage.
If that happens you standard Greenie will be the first to cry, “Get me energy, get me food, get me safety and get it now!” Who then can turn to them and say, ‘hope it is not too late. There’s still a chance. Still a hope, but not much of one now. If you don’t mind my saying, we should have started the democracy agenda sooner, fighting the extremists sooner, when we had the chance.’
One can’t conclude that the Golden Hour is over until it’s over. So the rational policy will be to act forcefully on the diplomatic and targeted military efforts until such time as God rings the bell and says, “time’s up boys”. That day will come when there is literally nothing else to do.
But until then, we are obligated by our humanity to try.
That’s why Kicking the Can Down the Road was so deadly. And starting from 2006 or 2007 maybe, the West gradually lost the will to even try, except half-heartedly, to use the Golden Hour.
I have written several times on this blog about Wretchard's "Three Conjectures" and the "Golden Hour". For those of you who are new to the concept, here it is again (from a post of mine in 2007):
The reality of the Islamic threat to the world is incredibly sobering. And if you have any doubts about that conclusion, or are tempted to dismiss this discussion as "fearmongering", then I urge you to read this post, and then this post from archives of The Belmont Club.
The first link discusses what is called "the strategic issue of our time": Is Islam compatible with a free society. The latter evaluates three conjectures about Islam and terrorism; a discussion that remains all-too relevant today:
Conjecture 1: Terrorism has Lowered the Nuclear Threshold
These obstacles to terrorist capability are the sole reason that the War onTerror has not yet crossed the nuclear theshold, the point at which enemies fight each other with weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist intent to destroy the United States, at whatever cost to themselves, has been a given since September 11.Their capability several years after the above was written has almost certainly improved dramatically. We know with almost complete certainty that a day is coming when we can no longer pretend that we have lots of time to stop the mullahs. Even as the international community ineptly moves toward some useless sanctions; there are too many among the world powers whose indifference will thwart any positive benefits such sanctions might have--as they did with Saddam. I would say that the Criteria to exceed Conjecture 1 have been satisfied. The threshold was lowered and terrorists either have nuclear capability or will have them imminently.
Only their capability is in doubt.
Conjecture 2: Attaining WMD's Would Destroy IslamThis fixity of malice was recognized in President Bush's West Point address in the summer of 2002, when he concluded that "deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend." The enemy was equally indifferent to inducement or threat. Neither making nice -- Jimmy Carter's withdrawal from Iran, Reagan's abandonment of Lebanon, Bush's defense of Saudi Arabia, Clinton's rescue of Albanian Muslims from Serbian genocide, the payment of billions in aid to Egypt and Pakistan -- nor the gravest of threats would alter the enemy's intent to utterly destroy and enslave America. Allah had condemned America. The Faithful only had to find the means to carry out the execution.
Because capability is the sole variable of interest in the war against terrorism, the greater the Islamic strike capability becomes, the stronger the response will be. An unrepeatable attack with a stolen WMD weapon would elicit a different response from one arising from a capability to strike on a sustained and repetitive basis.
As we see from the MEMRI article quoted above; this position has continued to be promoted by Islam's radicals, who appear to speak not only for themselves, but an increasingly larger number of Muslims worldwide. You also might want to check out this map from an Islamic website; and this documentation of the bloody borders of Islam's expansion since 9/11.
I think it is fair to say that all bets will be off when Iran's nuclear capability becomes not just a threat, but a reality. I suspect that Ahmadinejad's defiant and bellicose position indicates that they already have some limited capability which they will not hesistate to use if the West tries to shut them down.
The second conjecture posits that there will be an escalating exchange of nuclear attacks that will inevitably result in the destruction of Iran and other Muslim nations, possibly Pakistan or Syria; but since the threat of terrorism is transnational, the threat's full eradication of necessity will escalate beyond Iranian borders.
Does Islam care about this possibility? In the almost four years since the conjecture was written there are clear signs that some Islamic countries are concerned and risking quite a bit to prevent this scenario. But the great majority welcome it as "Allah's will" and some even have intentions of precipitating it to give credibility to their own little religious sect.
The problem is that for the seeds of democracy and freedom to break through the infertile Middle Eastern ground in which they have been planted, let alone to bloom--a hope initiated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by the Bush Administration--we are talking in terms of decades.
Thus, time is not on our side as Al Qaeda and Iran both rush toward accomplishing their apocolypse; and as the political left in this country is more intent on bringing down Republicans and doing battle with global warming than they are are preventing a devastating clash between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism.
Conjecture 3: The "War on Terror" is the Golden Hour -- the final chanceIt is supremely ironic that the survival of the Islamic world should hinge on an American victory in the War on Terror, the last chance to prevent that terrible day in which all the decisions will have already been made for us. That effort really consists of two separate aspects: a campaign to destroy the locus of militant Islam and prevent their acquisition of WMDs; and an attempt to awaken the world to the urgency of the threat.
The policies initiated by President Bush bets everything on the hope that Islam can be changed if it is infused with some democratic opportunities and freed from some of the political and religious tyranny that has dominated the Middle East. If such a democratizing process had been started--and carried through-- twenty years earlier when the threat of Islam first came into Western consciousness...well who knows how much the situation might have changed by now? But the West, in its hubris, did not take the growing threat seriously enough because they were "realists"; and even today many in the "reality-based" community still dismiss or minimize it scornfully.
Even the devastating attack within our borders that finally spurred us to mobilize our resources and fight back both militarily and strategically is fading from our collective memory. Remembering 9/11 is now considered an act of "fearmongering" for political gain; and those who want to wipe it out of historical significance have the human tendency to forget whatever is unpleasant (sometimes called psychological denial by people in my profession) working in their favor.
And, contrary to the infantile imaginings of the antiwar and so-called "peace" movements, Bush's strategy actually represents the best possible hope for peace; even if it is slight. He has pursued the strategy, despite growing unpopularity in the polls, not because it will bring political glory, but because it is the 'best' option out of a plethora of really bad options.
It is a strategy that faces the grim reality of Islamic contradictions and historical brutality; yet has enough optimism and goodwill in it to be genuinely worth the price we are paying in Afghanistan and Iraq. If it works--and I haven't entirely given up hope yet-- millions of deaths might still be prevented.
If the peace crowd really cared about peace, then they would do well to reconsider their own perverse antics; and the Democrats their knee-jerk opposition to Bush.
Because, if both the antiwar fanatics, and the Democratic Party they increasingly seem to control, succeed in their determination to undermine the war in Iraq or the war on terror in general (as opposed to working to win it) ; or, if the Islamic extremists succeed in eliminating any voices for moderation and tolerance; then there will be only one strategic option open.
Whether it is appreciated or not, these last few years have indeed been our "Golden Hour" --the short time we have to deal with the threat that is represented by the radical elements of Islam.
So much of the last four years has been wasted and frittered away by the left and their carping and undermining of Bush's strategic ploy. The continual appeasement, encouragement and cover given to those who would destroy us without mercy, has markedly diluted what we might have accomplished up to now with our aggressive pursuit of a strategy that answers the strategic question of the day with a "yes".
The 'Golden Hour' is rapidly approaching an end. As the clock ticks down to answering "no" to that fundamental strategic question; and as we creep closer and closer to the ultimate confrontation with a medieval, uncompromising and fanatically ruthless religion which intends not only to obtain nuclear weapons, but to use them; there will be no deus ex machina --and no pointless protest marches with clever placards--that will be able to save the millions of lives lost in that conflagration.
ANSWER, Code Pink, most of the Democratic Party and all the other leftist nutjobs are already preparing to blame Bush if the worse happens. Rational minds--and history, if it survives--will recognize the truth: that President Bush has chosen a strategy and done everything possible to change the course of history. That the strategy was implemented too far along in the process to be able to wholly succeed; or that the enemy is even more nimble and eager to embrace death than western sensibilities could have possibly predicted-- are painful realities that must be faced.
Sir Winston Churchill once observed, "One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.
We in the West need to stop flinching at the reality that faces us. David Ignatius clearly had a wake-up call as he evaluated Mowatt-Larssen's analysis of the Al Qaeda threat--and the rest of his cohorts need to have the same kind of alarm bells go off in their own heads.
Time is running out.
Indeed, time may have already run out as we are not in much of a position to do anything about Egypt; nor are we in much of a position to do anything about Iran; or even much about Pakistan's growing nuclear arsenal and its own instability.
In fact, the worse case scenario (which I do not necessarily think will happen--at least I pray it won't) and the "dusty death" that it will inevitably bring should be the scenario right now that we prepare for (I'm a firm believer in the "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst" philosophy).
We pretty much wasted all our yesterdays; now all we have is today and I see it being frittered away by an administration who appears to be more interested in PR than they are in dealing with reality--unless, of course, they consider "reality" (or "realpolitik" as it is more commonly known) as more and more appeasement of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
In case anyone has forgotten history, we already have considerable experience with appeasing groups like them waaaaay back when we tried to appease the national socialists in Germany and watched while they eventually took over the German State. I'm sure you remember how that worked out.
Consider that Hezbollah has now taken over Lebanon, a country once upon a time a pearl of western civilization in the Middle East; that Iran continues to aggressively pursue nuclear weapons (hallejulah for Stuxnet!); that Israel has had a peace treaty with Egypt and probably soon will not--particularly if the Muslim Brotherhood is in power; and that as soon as it is at all possible, the people of the Middle East, including the poor and oppressed Egyptians will once again have their attention diverted from their pathetic lives and horrific economic conditions by their leaders using that time-honored strategy of psychological projection and stoking hate and paranoia about the Jewish state.
For as long as Israel has existed, it has ALWAYS been the scapegoat that this pitiful religion and its politics has turned to in order to make excuses for their own miserable incompetence and inability to bring prosperity to their people. Externalizing blame on the only successful--and Western-- country in the region is the only way to maintain their own power without having to embrace any real social or economic realities.
Victor Davis Hanson asks, "Are they nuts?". I think you can field that question without any psychiatric analysis. The real question is, "Are we suicidal?"
The Golden Hour may have already passed us by.... but let us hope for the best--clearly stating our support for FREEDOM in all the Middle East, including freedom from the vile Islamic oppressors who go by names like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Hezbollah--and, at the same time let us prepare for the worst case scenario.