I'm sure I'll be roasted for this, if it gets any wide readership, but I don't necessarily disagree with Republican Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo when he suggests that one way to avoid an Islamic fundamentalist nuclear attack on the US is to establish a policy that such an attack would result in equal attacks against Mecca and Medina.
If taken seriously, this would have two affects. First, it would certainly give the state sponsors of terrorism, who would be the ones to give the terrorists the weapons in the first place, reason to give the whole matter some thought. Second, once they thought about it, it would give them reason to actively seek out any and all terrorists who might be considering such an attack, and make sure it doesn't happen.
Is it a harsh policy? Certainly. But then, a nuclear attack against the US would have harsh repercussions, not just for the US. In fact, targeting Mecca and Medina would result in far fewer human losses than targeting Tehran and Damascus. And it would demonstrate that the US is not a nation to be trifled with--which is the one lesson al Qaeda and other terrorists organizations haven't yet learned (because we haven't taught it to them).
All they understand is strength. And such a policy would represent the sort of strength that they would certainly understand. After all, their targets on 9/11 were of just as much symbolic value to Americans as these holy sites are to Muslims, and yet the terrorists had no problem attacking them. In fact, that was the point--which should be the point of our policy, as well.