A pox on both their houses

Republican candidate advocates threat to bomb Islamic holy sites as response to terrorist attack on U.S.:

WASHINGTON: Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo says the best way he can think of to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on the U.S. is to threaten to retaliate by bombing Islamic holy sites.

The Colorado congressman on Tuesday told about 30 people at a town hall meeting in the state of Iowa that he believes such a terrorist attack could be imminent and that the U.S. needs to hurry up and think of a way to stop it.

"If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina," Tancredo said at the Family Table restaurant. "Because that's the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they otherwise might do."
Yes, this is not a major candidate, but that anyone running for office is saying these things is incredible. To be fair and spread some bipartisan scorn, in a way it's more shocking that Barack Obama wants to invade Pakistan:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama issued a pointed warning yesterday to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying that as president he would be prepared to order U.S. troops into that country unilaterally if it failed to act on its own against Islamic extremists.

In his most comprehensive statement on terrorism, the senator from Illinois said that the Iraq war has left the United States less safe than it was before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that if elected he would seek to withdraw U.S. troops and shift the country's military focus to threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won," he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the District. He added, "The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
So if I get this right, Obama thinks Iraq is a piece of cake and American troops should withdraw, but believes Pakistan would be a piece of cake? While I certainly think Pakistan is much more of a problem than Iraq ever was, by now one would expect someone as electable as Obama to be more cautious about making this kind of statement.
15 Comments

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.