Monday, August 14, 2006

A few musings about 21st century counterfactual history

Seeing this article about how the Democrats plan to run on "security" this fall made me wonder what the "War on Terror" would look like if Al Gore had been elected in 2000 and reelected in 2004.

Of course, it wouldn't technically be a war since Democrats believe terror is primarily an international law enforcement problem. It also wouldn't be anything to do with "terror" per se. Democrats don't believe the United States can wage war on an emotion. So in this alternative universe, President Gore would have been likely to have committed the United States to a long term "Extended Criminal Prosecution of Members of Al-Qaeda".

Giving President Gore the benefit of the doubt, we can still assume he would have braved the "harsh Afghan winter" and sent American troops into the land that had driven out both the British and the Soviets. So the Taliban are still toppled in the counterfactual scenario. What would be next? Invading Iraq certainly seems out of the question. Given that a major charge that the Democratic Party throws at President Bush is that the United States is not doing enough to capture Osama bin Laden, a President Gore's post-Taliban plans would probably involve fewer American troops in the Middle East and more American troops in Afghanistan.

So, by 2003, President Gore would be just barely holding together the decaying sanctions regime against Iraq despite the revelations of the Oil-for-Food scandal, and in the mean time a really big chunk of the active duty United States military would be flying around in circles across the Hindu Kush mountains looking for new goatherders that haven't been interrogated yet. But lets assume that President Gore wins a counterfactual reelection in 2004 anyway. What would the world look like by now?

Iraq wouldn't be a problem. Saddham plays games with the U.N. weapons inspectors, Gore launches air strikes on abandoned warehouses in Baghdad. Saddham promises to behave. Gore tells us what a bad man Saddham is. Rinse. Repeat. Liberals guarentee that 2004's new, improved, fool-proof Oil-for-Food program will work the way it is intended to work. Does Saddham have nuclear weapons? The counter-factual CIA spends the 5 years between 2001 and 2006 noting that Saddham is 5 years away from a working atomic bomb. Let's give President Gore the benefit of the doubt and assume that Saddham hasn't nerve gased Tel Aviv by 2006.

North Korea wouldn't be a problem since they'd be happily continuing work on nuclear weapons while we feed their population for free and give them free civilian nuclear reactors. Perhaps Kim Jong Il would have continued with his 2006 missile test launches anyway; since President Gore never withdrew the United States from the ABM treaty, there wasn't much he could have done about a test launch in any case.

Iran wouldn't be a problem either. They'd be happily continuing work on nuclear weapons while we feed their population for free and give them free civilian nuclear reactors. Remember, normalizing relations with Iran was a key priority of the Clinton Administration that was successfully carried out by our counterfactual Gore Administration.

Israel would probably be much that same as it is today, except, of course, we'd be truely puzzled as to how Hamas managed to get their hands on so much Iraqi weaponry during 2006's joint Hamas-Hezbollah confrontation with Israel.

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