By Robert A. Vella
It’s very possible in the troubled years ahead that the U.S.-led West will consider launching preemptive nuclear strikes in the Middle East to combat the terrorist threats posed by rising Islamic extremism. This subject, as depressing as it is to contemplate, will become increasingly unavoidable as the world plunges deeper into a problematic and worrisome 21st century.
Two notable contemporary thinkers have provided a glimpse of what that debate might look like. Sam Harris is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and advocate for New Atheism. Cenk Uygur is a liberal/progressive Turkish-American columnist, political commentator and activist.
“If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.”
This passage was excerpted from Harris’ book The End of Faith to which Uygur addressed in a Raw Story article titled Cenk Uygur: Sam Harris’ anti-Muslim ‘thought experiments’ are like Repubs’ actual policy ideas:
“It’s funny how all these ‘thought experiments’ have Muslims as the victims,” Uygur said of Harris, while noting that Harris has not only come out in favor of profiling Muslims based on ideas regarding their appearance, but stated his agreement with Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) that Syrian refugees be allowed into the US if they are Christian, but not Muslim.
“These are not just ‘thought experiments.’ These have real effects,” Uygur said.
“There is no ‘maybe’ there. If you think ‘maybe’ and you think, ‘Ten million innocent civilians,’ think about that, man — family upon family, kids on top of kids, grandmothers, aunts, uncles,” he said. “You know what happens in a nuclear explosion? Their bodies explode. And you think, ‘Maybe.’”
He also closed the segment by mockingly challenging Harris fans to send in their complaints.
“Even though I’ve given you full context, tell me how the beloved Dr. Harris is once again misrepresented by his own words, and misunderstood by feeble minds like Noam Chomsky,” Uygur said.
Keep in mind that both Harris and Uygur are atheists. We can only imagine how this debate might transpire between the religiously inclined. Do you remember Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a Baptist, singing “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” during the 2008 presidential election campaign? Didn’t the Crusades end many hundreds of years ago?
Personally speaking, if the “only course of action available” to “ensure our survival” required the launching of preemptive nuclear strikes against the Islamic Middle East, then I would hope to be among the very first to die. Living, or struggling to live, in such a dystopian world would most certainly not be worth the effort.