Now and then I contemplate the possible outcomes if the United States got really, really angry, say at jihadists, if they went too far and struck a nerve. Crazed fury. Jihadists seem to think that enraging the western powers is strategically sensible, but they might be wrong. I’m not talking about little things like the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan: no, I mean really angry. You should picture Uncle Sam turning green and bursting out of his Uncle Sam suit (fortunately he wears highly stretchable purple undies).
There’s the old reliable, nuclear weapons. There wouldn’t be a lot left of the Arab world, especially when you consider little tactical enhancers like blowing up the Aswan Dam, or nuking a nuclear reactor. You could simply drop enough medium-life-time radioactive dust to make a region uninhabitable for months, or years, or decades, making the Haj pretty difficult.
Even semi-conventional war could become lot more intense: we haven’t done fire raids lately, but we still can (B52s can carry a huge payload). It’s hard to make laser weapons work for most purposes (atmospheric transmission) – but it’s easy to make ones that blind. We’re working on smart bullets: right now you have to fire thousands per hit, but that’s going to change.
Nerve gas? effective.
Germ warfare? Amazing things are now possible: we could probably tailor agents to hit particular ethnic groups (there is always leakage: I’m not saying that we wouldn’t get our hair mussed.) . They could kill – swiftly, or agonizingly slowly, They might trigger Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease: not just for cannibals, anymore. You might see agents that cause insanity, or sterility, or damn-foolishness(hmmmmm). Once CRISPR goes to war, you would see agents that cause germ-line genetic changes – nasty changes with built-in genetic drive that spread to the whole population.