Will Islamic terrorists nuke a city?
Start by recognizing that Islamic theology contains great support for the idea that all non-Muslims must either convert, submit, or be killed. Let's call this "Militant Islamism."
Reportedly, not all Muslims believe this to be a commandment of their religion, but for those who do no compromise seems to be allowed. Thus unless a non-Muslim is prepared to accept one of the three alternatives noted above, there can be no possibility of peaceful coexistence with *these* Muslims.
The Left--both in America and elsewhere--doesn't recognize this as true. Leftists claim that all problems can be resolved by peaceful means. (It's likely that not all on the Left actually believe this, but it's what they profess.) So the second point to be recognized is that the Left will try to block all useful preparations and actions by Americans who recognize the first point above.
Next: Militant Islamists will inevitably acquire nuclear weapons, whether by purchase from a rogue state like North Korea or Iran, or on the black market. This is as certain as the sunrise. Strong antiproliferation action by civilized nations can probably delay this for a dozen years or so, but it can't be prevented forever.
At that point the question becomes, Will the people who have acquired the weapon use it? And if so, where?
Many Americans claim that not even a terrorist would be so foolish, because we would "know" who was responsible and would retaliate massively. I think this is misguided, both because of the difficulty of being absolutely certain (we were confident Saddam had WMDs, yet none of significance have been found) and more importantly because no U.S. president will want to take the responsibility for the decision to kill probably hundreds of thousands of mostly-innocent people just to get a few hundred bad guys.
But more significantly, I suspect the idea of provoking the U.S. into such a move is actually very appealing to Islamic militants. After all, hundreds have demonstrated that they embrace the idea of committing suicide for their cause, so the idea that they might personally die is clearly not a deterrent.
Of course if the situation were reversed, virtually all Americans--like most westerners--would hesitate at the prospect of doing something that might trigger the deaths of 100,000 innocent Americans. But there is no evidence that Islamic militants have any such concerns about their countrymen. In fact, quite the opposite is true: To the true believer, anyone who is killed in jihad is assured of going to paradise.
Thus I think it can be concluded with a high degree of confidence that when the bad guys get their hands on a nuke, they'll use it. So the only question is, who will be the target?
Some claim it will be a European city, both because delivery is easier and because this would avoid the possibility of nuclear retaliation. But as noted above, the prospect of retaliation is unlikely to be a concern. And deliverability to the U.S. isn't a significant problem. So the question of the "best" target then hinges on which target would have the greatest strategic benefit for the militants.
Now we're on familiar territory: The Madrid train bombings prompted scared Spanish voters to change governments, and the new government pulled the small Spanish troop contingent out of Iraq, as they had promised to do. While the loss of military support wasn't significant, the lesson was impossible to miss.
So targeting a European city would likely result in the EU making even more concessions to the Muslim world than at present (though some would wonder, considering current EU policies, how this would even be possible). Such concessions might involve allowing open financial support for terrorist operations, allowing known terrorists to live openly in European nations,
and allowing terrorists to openly recruit and train in Europe. Such concessions would be quite valuable--in addition to their propaganda value.
Moreover, if Americans saw the destruction a nuke would cause on a European city--and both the event and its years-long aftermath would certainly be video-documented in excruciating detail--there would be great pressure on our government to make any concession that might arguably keep an American city from suffering the same fate.
Of course, since such a nuclear threat would never disappear, the stream of concessions demanded would be unending. This would seem to be tantamount to surrender to one of the three choices listed at the beginning of this article.
By contrast, pulling the trigger on an American city first *might just possibly* anger American voters so much that the Leftist viewpoint would be overwhelmed--just as opposition to U.S. entry into WW2 virtually ceased after Pearl Harbor.
(For those who feel the "might possibly" is tongue-in-cheek, note that after the U.S. suffered 2,900 killed--and an economic hit approaching $40 billion--with the attack on the WTC, the Leftist viewpoints of "peace through negotiations", "we brought this on ourselves by [insert favorite rant here], "we can coexist with these people" and "peace in our time" have continued to capture roughly 48 percent of American voters.)
So a lot of points favor targeting a European city. On the other hand: The old saying about 'If you want to kill a snake, don't cut off its tail' is a common one in the Middle East. And certainly in unlikely case that the U.S. retaliated by turning, say, Damascus or Baghdad into glass, it would probably increase the number of Islamic suicide-bomb volunteers a thousand-fold.
So...European, American, or "won't happen." Anybody wanna' place a bet? And be sure to predict a date in case of a tie.