Sunday, May 21, 2006

Iraq: The 'What if' Game

I've been reading an alternate history trilogy by Harry Harrison that explores what might have happened during the American Civil War if Britain's Prince Albert had died a few months sooner than he did. Without Queen Victoria's consort to moderate, a minor incident precipitates Great Britain's entry into the war against the Union, which causes the South to unite with the North against the "common enemy"...and Harrison weaves an entertaining tale from this scenario.

What if we didn't invade Iraq in 2003?

Well, we know now that French and Russian treasuries would be greatly enriched by a continued oil-for-food program, Uday and Qusay would still be getting laid regularly, and the families of Palestinian suicide bombers would still be getting a nice nest egg from Uncle Saddam.

But we'd be free to concentrate our forces in Afghanistan - where they could provide a target-rich environment for the tens of thousands of foreign fighters who would go there instead of Iraq. Syria, Iraq, and Iran would be free to do everything in their power to aid the mujahideen, hoping to provide us with the same experience that the Soviets suffered in Afghanistan.

The American Press would provide daily reports of the Afghan "quagmire", reporting every American death and setback in loving detail, while ignoring as much as possible our successes. In other words, they'd do just as they do in Iraq; same stories, different venue.

Democrats would be excoriating the President for irresponsible cowardice and dereliction of duty. How dare Bush let the safety of the American people depend upon the actions of a madman who ignores UN resolutions and butchers his own people with poison gas? How dare this President allow our enemies the safe sanctuary of Iraq, where their schemes against the United States are facilitated by a dictator who should have been taken out by the President's father (never mind that the UN mandate called for kicking Saddam out of Kuwait, not going to Baghdad)? Surely, the American people can see that the Republicans are weak on national security, and their foolish dependence on diplomacy with a tyrant is proof. Our troops are dying in Afghanistan because the inept Bush is too stupid to see the value of a second front in the War on Terror. John Kerry's campaign would seize on this theme, offering their man as a leader who understands military principles and will immediately open a second front to relieve the pressure on American troops in Afghanistan. Jack Murtha would declare the US military "broken" by the failed Afghan adventure, and advocate a hasty withdrawal. Retired American generals would be sought out by the Press to criticize the lack of strategic vision shown by putting all our eggs in one basket.

Even the death of Osama bin Laden wouldn't quell the criticism, as new al Qaeda leaders would come forward, just as they have with Osama isolated. With only one battlefield to worry about, al Qaeda would have more resources to devote to their first love, murdering infidels in spectacular terrorist attacks.

Cross-posted at The Jawa Report.