Laying down such a gauntlet is nothing new; it simply requires courageous leadership. In the wake of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy credibly warned the leaders of the Soviet Union that: "It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union." There's little question that President Kennedy's "full retaliatory response" would have included nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, today, there's neither the American leadership nor the American character to protect ourselves from people whose declared aim is to destroy us. It's not just Americans, but the West in general, who have lost the will to protect themselves from the barbarism of the Middle East. Keep in mind that the mighty Roman Empire fell to barbarians who ushered in the Dark Ages.