If Donald Trump is your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving then Ted Cruz is the charming sociopath your sister brings to Christmas. During a speech at the Rising Tide Summit in Iowa, the freshman senator from Texas whipped the crowd into a frenzy by suggesting President Barack Obama wasn't doing enough to defeat radical Islam.
Cruz thinks he can do better. "We will utterly destroy ISIS," he said. "We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out."
That's right, Ted Cruz just promised to nuke the Middle East if elected.
The "nuke the Middle East" foreign policy is rare, but not unheard of here in Texas, where local politicians sometimes energize their base by promising to make peace with the Muslim world... at the end of a nuclear-tipped sword. But Cruz's nuclear option wouldn't be the end of America's troubles in the region, rather the beginning of a horrible new chapter.
A nuclear detonation in Syria or Iraq would create massive political and ecological fallout. ISIS has somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 fighters. A nuke would kill millions, most of them civilians.
The refugee crisis would intensify as people rushed to avoid Cruz's glowing sand. Millions would flee into Europe and America would have a moral obligation to help all it could, spending billions over the next decade to feed and resettle the refugees it just created.
Washington's reconstruction of Japan after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was admirable, necessary and a success. Its more recent reconstruction of Afghanistan has been a corrupt, misguided failure. Nuking ISIS would trap the U.S. in the region for the foreseeable future — and might start another war.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran may see such an attack as an overt act of aggression against their countries. The international community would condemn the action and America's stature on the world stage would falter. A lot of countries would make friends with Russia and China to build relations with a superpower that hasn't nuked them.
It's an awful and misguided plan, full of sound. It's the kind of solution a sociopath would propose at Christmas dinner.
From drones to AKs, high technology to low politics, War is Boring explores how and why we fight above, on, and below an angry world. Sign up for its daily email update here or subscribe to its RSS Feed here.