Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A thought experiment...

It's 2010. During several NBA games late in the season, terrorists with sponsorship from the Sudan manage to release soman and/or sarin in eight arenas where the games are in progress (Madison Square Garden, the AT&T Center, FedEx Forum, United Center, Quicken Loans Arena, the US Airways Center, the American Airlines Center in Dallas, and the Staples Center).

Total fatality count is around 9,000 (both from the gas and the stampedes of panicking people that follow), with about six times as many suffering injuries (some from the gas, some from the panic that followed).

With a body count three times higher than 9/11, what would your response be? Assume that within two weeks, Sudanese sponsorship is determined with a high degree of confidence. Feel free to leave your response below.

22 comments:

Ken Prescott said...

To paraphrase a line from an otherwise forgettable 1980s doomsday novel:

"And then the United States Strategic Command broke every window in Sudan."

And as long as I had the toolbox out and a honey-do list, I'd hit North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and anyone else who'd recently annoyed me.

Then I'd go to the United Nations, and give a two-word speech, a la President Denis Leary:

"Fuck you!"

sbw said...

Call a spur-of-the-moment meeting of the U.N. General Assembly to meet at 34th St (Madison Square Garden) instead of 52nd St (United Nations).

Explain to them that the almost 90% funding of the U.N. by democracies will henceforth be allocated by the new Council of Democracies, relegating the Security Council to stew in its own juices and the General Assembly to strictly jawbone. Then suggest that the Secretary General resign in admission of his own misunderstanding that "peace" isn't simply the absence of war, but a fair process address oppression.

sbw said...

***a fair process address oppression.*** s/b

a fair process TO address oppression.

Scotts404 said...

your scenario, as written, invites a knee jerk response. However, there is much to consider. What has been happening vis a vis US-Islamic-African relations the last 4 years. Do we assume increasing isolation or improved relationships. If we attack, do we just send cruise missles or do we stage in a friendly country (who?) to launch substancial air stikes or a ground invasion? Have our capabilities improved to the point we can more surgically attack identified targets? What is our intelligence on the attackers and their orgainization? Where are our military assets cureently deployed? What are our committments. Is this an event in the context of a larger on-going conflict or is it an isolated terror attack?
I am just scratching the surface on questions to answer, but perhaps you're just conducting a survey on invade/appease.

Brian J. Dunn said...

Well, with sponsorship clear and WMD used, to maintain deterrence we'd have to respond with a nuclear weapon.

But we should not simply kill civilians in a spasm of revenge.

So, to respond directly to Sudan, we target with conventional forces the central government of Sudan. Destroy every government building and kill every senior government and military official no matter how long it takes.

And to make sure nobody thinks they can hit us with WMD and get away with it, we use a nuke on a military target inside Sudan close enough to Khartoum for people to see the mushroom cloud but far enough away to avoid too much death or damage to civilians. Oh, and very large conventional bombs that will also produce mushroom clouds to enhance the effect.

Then blockade the Red Sea and keep Sudan from exporting oil until somebody, hopefully the military which does not want further nukes used on their forces, overthrows the regime and turns over any leader who has thus far survived our conventional campaign.

Finally, we get serious about destroying hostile regimes before any can strike us again with WMD.

The scenario is fairly idealized. The real problem comes if we can't postively identify the guilty party. Punishing the guilty may be something that can wait for positive ID, but maintaining deterrence is still an issue and how do you do that without responding with nukes?

Harold C. Hutchison said...

Scotts404
Interesting non-response response...

Jaylord said...

It is time for a new "Bush Doctrine" that would apply perfectly to the above situation. The new doctrine would state that in the event the US is struck with a WMD attack of any type or magnitude, ALL rogue terror sponsor nations will assumed to be responsible and will be attacked with an immediate and greatly disproportionate response.

This will reduce the incentive for state sponsors to hide behind terrorist groups. If playing around with terrorists could lead to your country being turned into a glassy plain, it might make you think twice. Of course with a Pres. Hillary (god forbid!), Pres. Ahma-Nutjob in Iran might try and call our bluff.

Ken Prescott said...

What has been happening vis a vis US-Islamic-African relations the last 4 years.

What is the relevance of this question?

Do we assume increasing isolation or improved relationships.

I am puzzled by this question; I do not understand its relevance in light of 9,000 dead Americans due to a WMD attack.

If we attack, do we just send cruise missles or do we stage in a friendly country (who?) to launch substancial air stikes or a ground invasion?

Unless those cruise missiles are carrying W80 warheads, I do not see the relevance of them in a scenario that involves retaliation for WMD use.

Have our capabilities improved to the point we can more surgically attack identified targets?

We can do that right now. What is the relevance of this question to a WMD attack retaliation scenario?

What is our intelligence on the attackers and their orgainization?

They're in Sudan, and they're close personal friends with the government of Sudan. What else do you actually need to know?

Where are our military assets cureently deployed?

B-2s and B-52s available at Diego Garcia; at least one Trident on alert in the Atlantic, and most likely another in transit to or from its alert station; Minuteman III missiles on alert at Warren AFB, Minot AFB, and Malmstrom AFB; B-52s available at Barksdale AFB and Minot AFB; B-2s available at Whiteman AFB.

What are our committments.

What is the relevance of this question?

Is this an event in the context of a larger on-going conflict or is it an isolated terror attack?

Again, what is the relevance of this question?

I am just scratching the surface on questions to answer, but perhaps you're just conducting a survey on invade/appease.

You're going out of your way to avoid answering the question that was asked.

Bottom line: US policy regarding a WMD attack on the homeland is pretty clear: it will be responded to in kind. However, WMDs include nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and the last two are not in the US arsenal.

scott said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
scott said...

If the President is a Democrat we prepare an indictment and go through the legal formalities. If the President is a Republican we level Khartoum and the usual suspects in the NGO's, ACLU, Democratic party and the media brand him a war criminal. Nothing changes. To one side of our elite the enemy is a return to the Drak Night of Fascism [tm]. Better a few thousand dead every few years than a new Hollywood Blacklist or a new CONINTELPRO. Our real enemies are domestic.

Heathen said...

Step 1. Level the country.

Step 2. Bounce the rubble.

Step 3. Send a check for the cost of the ICBMs to the UN.

sandoz said...

1. Too much 'Command and Conquer' perhaps?

2. Is the "high degree of confidence" of Sudanese sponsorship like that of WMD in Iraq?

3. If nuking, bombing, leveling the country works in Afghanistan, why not do the same in Sudan.

Ken Prescott said...

1. Too much 'Command and Conquer' perhaps?

What is the point of this question?

2. Is the "high degree of confidence" of Sudanese sponsorship like that of WMD in Iraq?

a. Saddam Hussein went out of his way to act as if he had WMD. If you choose to look like a duck, and you choose to quack like a duck, and you choose to wander around outdoors during duck season, it's called "assumption of known risk" when someone puts a load of birdshot into your fundament.

b. Assume, for the purposes of this thought experiment, that several of the players are positively ID'd at the post-mortem.

3. If nuking, bombing, leveling the country works in Afghanistan, why not do the same in Sudan.

Again, what is the point of this remark?

rbarry said...

If 3000 dead led directly to the invasion of Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, I would think 9000 dead would lead to a much stronger reaction.
I'd do this calculation. 12000 dead Americans on American soil since 9/10/2001. US Treasury has spent around 1 trillion dollars on the GWOT and the attacks have gotten worse. Two Islamic countries have been taken down, but another, Sudan, not evan a member of the 2001 Axis of Terror sponser 3 times the casualties. To this sitting President, its clear, the old methods didn't work.

I would overthrow the Sudanese government like Iraq before.

I would say to the world that any further attacks on American soil by a Islamic state would be an attack by all Islamic states. The US would respond with disproportionate force to targets of its choice throughout the Muslim world.

I would direct the DHS to round up, city by city, all illegals from Muslim countries and expel them.
I would work with Congress to pass a series of laws to encourage all Muslims to leave the country and bar further immigration from any Muslim country.

What do ya think?

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David Blue said...

"With a body count three times higher than 9/11, what would your response be?"

I know you are overloaded with off-topic and non-responsive replies, but anyway my response would be as an Australian.

My general policy would be to back the Yanks. John Howard said on or soon after 11 September, 2001 that this was "no time to be an 80% ally". I think that's right, and it would apply again after another high casualty attack on civilians in America.

In private, I would strongly counsel the Americans against using nuclear weapons, but if they did anyway I would not let the disagreement become public.

Though non-nuclear, an adequate response to such an attack would have to be severe, in casualties and in economic terms. As part of that response, I would participate fully in a blockade of the Red Sea. (Even if the Americans had used nukes, which would make that politically harder to do.)

I would not volunteer Australian troops for nation-building in Sudan. Sorry, but I think that would be a hopeless mission.

I would support with troops a great raid to thoroughly destroy the regime and make it as hard as possible to build another military-backed, Islamic flavored "Arab" regime to replace it. If that meant wrecking waterways and generally making the place so hard to live in there would be no real government there, OK.

However, if the Americans had used nuclear weapons I would not do this, and I guess it would be unnecessary anyway.

Under no circumstances would I get into back-seat driving, French style diplomacy and public arguments with our great ally over the water.

(Unless the American President was a paranoid weasel like Richard Milhous Nixon, who changed his plans abruptly with no consultation or warning for his allies. That makes arguments impossible to avoid, because you're left defending policies while the Americans without warning are repudiating them. But if the American President was like George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush, and knew how to use a phone and to stick to what he or she said, I would stick.

I'm not trying to take a shot at anyone here. I'm just saying process would be important. The Americans would have to consult - quickly - make a call, and then stick to the move they said they were going to make. If they did not, my support would be less effective, as if that was a big deal anyway.)

David Blue said...

PS: I would advise the Americans not to consult with the United Nations or any other non-allied body.

I would say: consult only with real allies (such as the United Kingdom, whether they chose to support this effort or not), make a call, make sure everyone is on the same page, and get on with it.

Delays would only invite diplomatic and political problems for the Americans and their/our allies.

Asking the United Nations for permission - and likely not getting it - would be a bad idea.

But if the Americans, with 9,000 dead and many more hurt, chose to do this, I would accept that this was their call, and lobby for an American-sponsored resolution.

I am right over at the pro-American end of the political spectrum in Australia - not out of the mainstream on this, but hard to one side of it. You would not get more allied support than I would give.

Mike O said...

Several good suggestions (think the use of nukes a bit far; biggest conventional bombs would do the job in Sudan and be scary enough. Obliterate their leadership AND entire military structure; no officers survive.

As importantly, find out where the support comes from . Money from Saudi Arabians? ALL Saudi accounts frozen until they hand over the princes involved are turned over for war crimes trials in THIS country. All U.N. payments cease; that money goes to cleanup.

And air strikes on all the other troublemakers (North Korea and Iran, primarily) just to get the point across that the cost WILL be greater than the gain.

Ken Prescott said...

Several good suggestions (think the use of nukes a bit far; biggest conventional bombs would do the job in Sudan and be scary enough.

The problem is that we DO have a national policy of retaliating in kind to a WMD attack--but we do not have chemical or biological weapons.

That leaves only one option.

BTW, I do not like it. That's why I'd go for severe overkill all the way around--to convince everyone that doing this is A Really Bad Idea, and thus (hopefully) deter further WMD attacks.

sandoz said...

Why have nukes if you're not going to use them?

Ken,
In response to your "quack like a duck" remark. Before the invasion, Saddam went out of this way to show the world that he did not have WMD. The UN Inspectors were all over him like a wet rag.
The whole world knew he didn't have WMD.

If we get a positive ID on the terrorists and they're from Sudan, and were supported by the Sudanese government.... well you're painting a picture which can only lead further conflict.

My 'too much command & conquer' comment was because it seemed like everyone was talking about this like it's a video game... y'know, bomb 'em, nuke 'em talk.
In a video game, the only possibility is conflict. I don't think that is the case in reality.

Ken Prescott said...

In response to your "quack like a duck" remark. Before the invasion, Saddam went out of this way to show the world that he did not have WMD. The UN Inspectors were all over him like a wet rag.
The whole world knew he didn't have WMD.


No, they didn't. He was still playing the stupid games he'd played before--hindering access, ejecting people who actually knew what a WMD program would look like, and so on.

If we get a positive ID on the terrorists and they're from Sudan, and were supported by the Sudanese government.... well you're painting a picture which can only lead further conflict.

If I were to take this statement at face value, you're arguing that the lives of large numbers of U.S. citizens are expendable, so long as you can pretend that there isn't any conflict.

My 'too much command & conquer' comment was because it seemed like everyone was talking about this like it's a video game... y'know, bomb 'em, nuke 'em talk.

How do you propose to deal with people who, as part of their religious dogma, deliberately target noncombatants for murder, and simply want a nice, high body count?

In a video game, the only possibility is conflict. I don't think that is the case in reality.

OK, sandoz, you are the President. You have 9,000 dead citizens on your hands, courtesy of weapons of mass destruction. What is your repsonse? Consider that the US and the terrorists are not the only geopolitical actors in the world?

John Clifford said...

Wars are won by destroying the enemy's will to resist. We obviously aren't winning this war even though we are prevailing military; it's like the summer of 1945 in the Pacific where Japan was beaten military but would not surrender.

How did we break the Japanese will to resist? By nuking two of their cities. By driving home to them forcefully that the only thing they could control was how many of THEM died... not how many of us died. By making it clear that their only choice was to surrender or die.

The Japanese military was fanatical, just as our jihadist enemies are fanatical. Both believe(d) that suicide attacks were highly desirable. Both believe(d) that sacrifice for the cause would be spiritually rewarded. Both believe(d) that if enough of them were willing to die, and could kill enough of us, we'd quit and they'd win.

We need to show the jihadists that the only destination they're headed for is death... death for them, their countries, their cultures. I think our biggest problem in Iraq hasn't been the use of military force, it has been RESTRAINT in the use of military force.

We need to pull something akin to Sherman's 'March Through Georgia' on the Muslim world. Except we need to start in Pakistan, go thru Iran, swing by Syria and Lebanon, and end up in the Republic of Georgia.

If 9,000 Americans were killed in a WMD attack and we could trace the terrorists back to Sudan, then we should OWN Sudan... invade it after bombing the crap out of it, killing any- and everyone who gets in our way. If funds came from Saudi Arabia, we should give them a week to hand over everyone involved or WE'RE GOING IN AND GETTING THEM. If Iranian or Syrian scientists helped develop the WMDs, we make Desert Storm look like a training exercise.

These people have to realize that messing with us carries a price. Right now, it doesn't.