The Tancredo Hootanany

By GotDesign
As most of you will already know, Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado recently made remarks to the effect that, if the United States is attacked by islamist extremists using nuclear weapons, th U.S. should respond by bombing Mecca and other Islamic holy sites. (For the complete recap, check out

I stand with Hugh. Tancredo's remarks are absolutely irresponsible. Terrorists are, in the parlance of foreign policy junkies such as myself, independent actors -- they do not answer to any state/nation. I will say however, that the U.S. should be prepared to launch attacks against any nation -- ANY nation -- who harbors and/or supports terrorists in case of such an attack. There should be no respite for those who support terrorists because they are lending their implicit authorization for any attacks made by those they support.

If the Mexican military were to sweep northward over the U.S. border and raid into Texas, the U.S. response would be to attack Mexico -- and justly so. On the other hand, terrorists are a group of individuals who attack a nation or a nation's interests without any ties to a given nation. The only first order retribution can be against the terrorists themselves. However, if terrorists receive support -- e.g., training, funding, weapons/materials, etc -- from a nation like Iran, then Iran is elevating the international standing of those terrorists to that of a primary actor on the international stage. Therefore, by elevating these terrorists, the supporting nation (in our example, Iran) becomes liable for the actions of the terrorists and is also open to any military acts of retribution by the aggrieved nation. It's pretty plain.

But this brings about some blurry areas. In Saudi Arabia, there are many mosques and individuals who give money to extremist organizations. but I don't think such actions, on the part of private individuals and organizations, should make a nation liable for the actions of terrorists. However, if Saudi Arabia were to officially send money to terrorists, then the Saudis would become targets. However, I would never condone the bombing of religious holy sites (e.g., Mecca, Medina, etc.).

Tancredo should "revise and extend his remarks" (groovy Congressional language). He should appologize and clarify his intentions. But the problem is bigger than just Rep. Tancredo. Members of Congress, the executive, the judiciary -- any public figure -- should remember that their comments are taken as representing their organization. I am shocked that Tacredo's remarks have not run on Al Jazeera yet.

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