Monday, September 5, 2011

"What if"-ing 9-11...

Niall Ferguson wrote an interesting piece, yesterday. In it, he supposes that 9-11 never happened, that the attacks were somehow thwarted. His conclusion of the way things might have turned out:
In other words, if things had happened differently 10 years ago—if there had been no 9/11 and no retaliatory invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq—we might be living through an Islamist Winter rather than an Arab Spring.
 It's an interesting thought experiment, in my opinion. It seems to me that 9-11 was a watershed moment, quite obviously, similar in some ways to December 7th, 1941. We could "what if" that too, but it's probably too far removed  from the collective conscious to be of much use. 9-11, however, still stirs many direct memories, many emotions. We can't say with any certainty what would have happened if it had not occurred, but there is value in wondering.

Myself, I think that if 9-11 had been stopped--as Ferguson--speculates, there would have been little fanfare and few consequences for movements like al Qaeda, aside from a loss of resources that had been used to plan and carry out 9-11 (which were lost, anyway). I think they--al Qaeda--would have just gone back to the drawing board, so to speak. And perhaps they would have gone for more. Imagine if, instead of 9-11 in 2001, al Qaeda succeeded in setting of a dirty bomb in 2008. The financial crisis might have been "tabled," as the Federal Government simply bought off all the toxic debt of various financial companies, fearing that a financial collapse on the heels of such an attack could just not be allowed, no matter what. And of course, i n doing so, we'd have ended up with a far worse economic downturn a few years or so later.

And if the attack was that much bigger, so might have been our response. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia might no longer exists as nation-states. The "War on Terror" might have spilled over into places beyond the Middle East. Africa. Western China.

And with the US so involved, it might have had little inclination to back up EU losses from the mortgage industry breakdown. Much of the EU might be in situations similar to Greece, with only Germany to turn to for help.

Really, I can imagine a much grimmer world, had there been no 9-11. Much grimmer.

But such ponderings are what they are: hypotheticals. With the ten year anniversary of 9-11 fast approaching, let us not forget all of the innocent lives lost, all of the brave men and women that sacrificed themselves to help their fellow citizens. If 9-11 had never happened, none of them would have died needlessly. I'd take that any day of the week.

Cheers, all.

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