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By HAL BROWN
If the United States is attacked by al Qaeda and suffers very heavy casualties, a nuclear strike may be our only option for retaliation. As a nationless enemy it is known that al Qaeda operates from the mountainous region along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Here are excerpts from what Michael Scheuer had to say in an interview with Keith Olbermann on Feb. 20. He should know. He’s the former head of the CIA bin Laden unit.
We won the cities, but the Taliban and al Qaeda escaped basically intact, and theyÃ¢â‚¬Ëœve been rebuilding and reequipping over the past five years.
… the central place in terms of an attack inside the United States is Afghanistan and Pakistan. When the next attack occurs in America, it will be planned and orchestrated out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
… the people who will plan the next attack in the United States are those who are in Afghanistan and Pakistan, sir.
The threat to the United States, inside the United States, comes from al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you want to address the threat to America, thatÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs where it is.
We donÃ¢â‚¬Ëœt treat theÃ¢â‚¬â€this Islamist enemy as seriously as we should. We think somehow weÃ¢â‚¬Ëœre going to arrest them, one man at a time. These people are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States, and weÃ¢â‚¬Ëœre going to have absolutely nothing to respond against.
Al Qaeda isn’t like North Korea or Iran against whom we could and probably would launch a massive nuclear strike should they be so foolhardy to attack us or our allies with nuclear weapons. Our defense against them is the assurance that we would obliterate their countries.
I have little doubt that al Qaeda leaders from Osama on down would gladly meet their maker if they could do so knowing they had killed a million Americans in one “glorious” strike against the infidel. They would launch such a strike in the belief that, should they die, those jihadists left alive would reconstitute themselves into a bigger and more lethal army for Allah.
If al Qaeda used a weapon of mass destruction against us, whether a thermonuclear device, a dirty bomb, or a chemical or biological weapon, and killed tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Americans, there would be no al Qaeda country to bomb into the stone age.
We would have to go after them there and kill them. We would have to thwart the plan the martyr leaders had for a bigger and better al Qaeda.
I see only two ways to do this.
Here’s the first.
The first is to mobilize a huge army of highly trained mountain troops. By huge I envision 100,000 to 200,000 as the terrain, pockmarked with caves and tunnels, is a guerilla army’s dream. George Bush calls the area “wilder than the Wild West,” but which al Qaeda calls home.
It will make fighting an enemy in the jungles of Vietnam look like a walk in the park.
Our current forces in Iraq, and those who have been cycled through, have been trained in desert and urban warfare. In order to get the military up to strength for an effective mountain campaign against the forces we’d face there, we would need a draft. It would take at least six months to get the first contingent of mountain trained and equipped troops there. Without massive numbers and the best logistics they would be at a terrible disadvantage.
The second option is obvious.
We would need to use nuclear bombs to “sanitize” the border areas our intelligence showed to be likely hideouts for al-Qaeda.
On Sunday Vice President Cheney made a surprise visit to Pakistan and met with Gen. Pervez Musharraf. He is being portrayed as giving him a dose of the stern Cheney stuff, although he seemed to be less than his usual belligerent self when he said that if aid to Pakistan is cut it will be due to the feckless Domcratic Congress.
I hope in private he really laid out the true dire consequenses to Pakistan if there’s an al Qaeda attack against the United States
My hunch is that our atrophying testicular veep warned him that unless he gets serious about going after al Qaeda bases (and Osama), should the U.S. get attacked, retaliation will be swift and brutal.
It will be nuclear strikes against suspected al Qaeda strongholds along the Afghanistan Pakistan border. He might have even hammered him with a power point presentation based on a the fact sheet, Nuclear Weapons Effects, from the American Federation of Scientists. LINK
Whether we choose option one or option two, we would still have to contend with the Talban and al-Qaeda who are already spread through the non-mountainous parts of the country. To do this we would need to greatly augment the 40,000 forces we already have there. These troops would have to come from Iraq, and they would have to come as quickly as possible no matter the consequences for whoever is worth saving in Iraq.
The news, I mean the real news sans Anna Nicole’s remains and Britney Spear’s bald head, is full of stories about the latest “you ain’t seen nothing yet” proof that Iran is supplying really nasty weapons being used to kill our troops in Iraq. All the pundits are speculating as to whether Bush plans an attack against Iran.
Meanwhile, in a matter of seconds, we could be deciding whether to retaliate against al Qaeda with nuclear bombs, and no one wants to talk about this.
(Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at www.stressline.com)