Well, all the world's talking about the war in Iraq - and the after affects - so I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in. Being as how I usually handle alternate history as a timeline, I decided that I'd handle this “future history” (read: “Predictions”) the same way. Only difference is, you'll be able to check how good I did more...directly.

Unlike most people, I'm not going for worse-case nor best-case scenarios here - I'm trying to pick a likely middle path. Best case (and most unlikely one), of course, is that this all really does result in a democracy in Iraq which inspires other democracies to spring forth, and it reduces terrorism and we find out that had we not gone in there an Iraqi nuke would have taken out San Diego in two years...

Conversely, worse case is that the whole Islamic world declares war on the U.S., oil supplies cease to arrive, the world's economy collapses, and local U.S. news reports start including a weekly suicide bombing count...

...oh, and San Diego gets nuked...

(why San Diego all the time? Well, ask J. Michael Straczynski - and avoid that city should you discover that he is)

Actually, I suspect that “Best Case” is that the war has little to no effect on future events at all, but, anywho, on with the show. BTW, feel free to comment on all this - I may make changes based on those comments, or I may just enjoy knowing someone actually reads the stuff I write...

(Everything below in the original yellow or green was written on April 2nd, 2003. Changes/updates/how I did in are dated and in red)

[and look! Someone has read this - and commented too!]

April 2nd, 2003 This timeline is first posted
May, 2003 United States declares war “over.” Saddam & Co. is out - captured, dead, or “missing” - and the U.S. begins setting up its administration.

In fact, while “over,” there will be fighting in Iraq all the time the U.S. is there - and most of the time after. It will diminish to a background level in about six months, but there will be a continued low-level number of deaths to U.S. forces and Iraqi citizens.

June 3rd, 2003: On May 1st, Bush managed to declare the war "over" without actually saying the war was over - I suspect so that any future U.S. casualties wouldn't cause any "hey, why is he dead, the war's over?" questions. And, yes, deaths keep on occurring...twenty-one, so far (06/03/03), since the declaration of "over-ness".

September 9th, 2003: There have now been more deaths (as of August 26th) from after the war's "end" than before - and they keep coming at about one per day.

November 18th, 2003: Okay, this is a semi-miss - because far from "diminish[ing] to a background level in about six months," the number of attacks are increasing. I guess I was too optimistic...

January 28th, 2004: And the deaths just keep on coming! I was way too optimistic. Apparently, U.S. troop deaths are going to stay at a weekly level equal to or greater than during the war itself, well, pretty much until we're gone. And just might continue on afterwards via more long-distance terrorism. Boy! [sarcasm]This war against terrorism sure has made American Citizens a whole lot safer![/sarcasm]

May 1st, 2007: Way, way, way too optimistic! See the following table -

May 1, 2003 Today
U.S. Troops Wounded 542 24,912
U.S. Troops Killed 139 3,351
Contractors Killed 69 916
Journalists and Media Assistants Killed 11 167
U.S. Forces in Iraq 150,000 146,000
Size of Iraqi Security Forces
7,000-9,000 334,300
Number of Insurgents less than 5,000 ~70,000 (Sunni only)
Insurgent Attacks Per Day 8 148.9
Cost to U.S. Taxpayers $79 billion $421 billion
Approval of Bush’s Handling of Iraq 75% 24%
Percentage of Americans who Believe The Iraq War Was “Worth Fighting” 70% 34%
Bush’s Overall Job Approval 71% 32%

(Table thanks to "Think Progress")

I probably should have figured the "background" in "diminish to a background level" would be a lot higher than I expected - but then, even I didn't think Bush's solution to a failed policy would be to do that failed policy...harder.


Speaking of deaths, at war's "end," totals will run about 300 for coalition forces (an annoyingly high percentage of which are from accidents and/or "friendly fire") and 5,000 for Iraqi forces. Direct and indirect effects of the war will kill about 30,000 Iraqi civilians.

June 3rd, 2003: I was close on this one for coalition deaths - latest count shows 210. And I was right about "friendly fire" - about one-fourth to a third of those deaths (from what I can tell - I can't find exact figures) are either from "friendly fire," or from even more mundane accidents.

For the Iraq forces, though, I severely underestimated deaths - one report puts it at "[between] 13,500 and 45,000 dead among the troops and paramilitaries" - with the caveat, of course, that "postwar calculations are rough, but they are all there is since Iraqi officials kept no tally. The US also avoided the issue".

Civilian deaths are even harder to figure - a quick web search showed numbers anywhere from 1,200 to 12,000 (the counts at "Iraq Body Count", while slightly biased, are probably at the right order of magnitude - between 5,430 and 7,046 as of today). And, of course, figuring out the indirect deaths (Grandma dies of cholera because the water was off for a week, little Timmy dies ten years later from depleted uranium-caused cancer, etc.) are even harder to, well, count. Therefore I think I'm still in the right ballpark with my "30,000" - but I honestly can't tell.
Dec, 2003 The U.S. has been trying to set up a local Iraq government for some time now - though real administration of the country remains firmly in U.S. hands (and will for some years). This is hampered by the fact that half the people they're trying to set the government up with don't actually want to be part of Iraq - and most of the other half wants their little individual group to be the sole power in the country.

November 18th, 2003: Latest statement is that the new Iraqi government will take over "In July of 2004" - but that the U.S. will remain as "security forces." Whether this will come off - and whether this counts as "out of U.S. hands" is anyone's guess right now...

January 28th, 2004: Now it looks like one of the biggest things hampering a new Iraqi is the United States! Okay, I understand why the government doesn't want to call elections right this second when one of the biggest groups calling for them is a bunch of Islamic fundies of a 1980's Iran flavor - but the fact that the U.S. can find real reasons not to turn over administration is a good sign that it's going to be a lot longer until it does...


Terrorism, meanwhile, has declined somewhat worldwide. This has nothing to do with the Iraqi war, it's just that all the money the U.S. and others have been throwing at the problem has had an affect (mostly by lowering the terrorist's money sources).

Problem is, while it's down worldwide, it's up locally for the U.S. and Britain - quite substantially up for the U.S. Oh, there hasn't been anything on the level of “9/11" again - and isn't likely to be - but attacks on U.S. overseas resources and citizens happen again and again, and even within the U.S. some sort of event happens that causes multiple injuries and/or deaths.

November 18th, 2003: Okay, this one is both a miss and a hit - because while it's not down worldwide it is up for the U.S. and its allies. Interestingly, I expected it to be up more within the U.S., but it seems to be mostly at overseas U.S. (and other) targets.

One interesting item: Initially, the folks doing bombings and whatnot in Iraq were referred to as "terrorists" by Bush & Co. Lately, the "approved" term seems to be shifting to "insurgents."

Cynical ol' me suspects that the administration's spin doctors have decided that it will cause less damage to the President to have the "war" continuing via "insurgents" six months after Bush declared the war over than to have to report a vast upswing in the amount of terrorism due to a war that was supposed to fight terrorism...


Worse, terrorists groups like “Hamas” - which till now has avoided annoying the U.S., since we were just about the only brake on Israeli activities towards/against the Palestinians - now see the U.S. as just one more nation against them. And a legitimate target.

And, of course, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. With every Hamas terrorist attack (indeed, with every terrorist attack in general), U.S. opinion turns more and more against the Palestinians and more and more favorably towards Israel's ideas on how to handle them.

Long term result: There will never be a Palestinian state within most people's lifetimes and if one eventually does form, it will be just a weak puppet of another local Middle-Eastern power.

November 18th, 2003: I can not for the life of me tell whether this will be a hit or a miss as the Palestinian/Israeli mess just gets messier and more bewildering. I'm tempted to think it might end up with a Palestinian state being formed in the next five or six years - but that's what I was tempted to believe back in the late 70's too.

Basically, this one all remains an open question...


The U.S. (and thus the World's) economy has slipped back into a recession again, due to side-effects of the war (down international travel, all the money spent on it, Wall Street still not seeing any sort of clear future, the fact that Bush's economic strategies still suck just as badly as they did before the war). Even lower oil prices (though prices will not lower nearly as far as what some have suggested they will - the U.S. will actually keep Iraqi oil prices pretty close to OPEC's to try and avoid annoying/destabilizing any more Middle-Eastern countries - especially ones they need - and to try and offset most of the costs of the Iraqi occupation) have only mitigated, not reversed this slide.

Panic-mongers to the contrary, the world isn't going to slip into another “Great Depression” - but that will hardly be anything to cheer up all the new unemployed.

November 18th, 2003: Okay, I'll declare this prediction to be a clear miss - we actually do seem to be getting better economically. Unfortunately, the Federal Deficit keeps growing anyway - as does the bill for the war/reconstruction - and that "improving economy" doesn't seem to actually be improving things for workers, and...

So I'm holding to what I say below.

August 25th, 2008: I'm tempted to move the economic prediction back into the "hit" category again, but that's probably cheating. Five years is an eternity in predicting economics and me being five years off, well, that's kinda plunks it in the random chance category rather than the "correct prediction" one.

It looks like - to me, anyway - that we basically delayed the economic downturn (or "collapse," depending on how depressing a prediction of how it'll all turn out you want to believe) for five years by, pretty much, putting the whole economy on our "credit card." Of course, it only delayed it because - as we all should know by now - even the biggest credit cards have a limit...and a minimum payment amount.

That's why I kinda want to move it back into the "hit" category, since my downturn "happened" - we just sorta pretended it didn't for five years. But I'm honest enough to realize that if it was any sort of good prediction, well, I would have predicted that response too.

And I didn't. Heck, I even predicted (temporarily) lower oil prices...and look how well that worked...

So it'll stay a miss.

Mind you, all the negative effects I predicted from it are probably now guaranteed hits...if all five years delayed.


Worse, the negative effects of lowered state and local budgets on education, health, police, heck, road maintenance, will last for decades

September 9th, 2003: If not longer. We've managed to rack up the biggest federal deficit for this year - ever - with signs that it'll be bigger next year (and the year after that?). Meanwhile, state budgets are going into cardiac arrest all over, and Bush keeps upping the amount we need to spend on Iraq (it's up to 87 billion for this year - don't expect it to go down any time soon).

It's just possible that all this will cause a complete financial melt-down one or two decades hence - but I won't make that a prediction a) because predicting something that complex from two-decades away is as close to impossible as you can get and, b) because I don't want to have to keep updating this page until 2023...;)
May, 2004 Anniversary of the “end” of the war - and something gets blowed-up.

April 14th, 2004: It's a bit early, but I'm going to classify this one as a "hit" anyway - just a trivial one (as something has been getting "blowed-up" several times a week for the last month or so).


The Iraqi provisional government is still arguing with itself and several U.S. administrators in Iraq are beginning to privately doubt they'll ever be ready to run the country.

The world economy continues in its slump with no real end in sight (that end won't come until early 2006 and - again - negative after-effects will hang about for decades).

Meanwhile, the U.S. has discovered that most of its foreign policy has been screwed by the war. With a few exceptions (like Britain - though even they are drifting away more and more from the U.S. “party line”), even if a country thinks measure “A” or loan “B” or agreement “C” is a good thing, they are likely to vote “no” on it if the U.S. suggests it in the U.N.

January 28th, 2004: Current example, the trouble the U.S. is having getting anyone else to help in Iraq.

April 14th, 2004: Spain has "fallen away" now from the coalition, Japan's looking iffy, and Britain might very well end up leaving come their next election.


U.S. companies find it harder and harder to work abroad (another source for the continued recession), U.S. citizens are less and less safe abroad (even if you factor out terrorists), and in general, the U.S. is less and less able to get anything done abroad if it needs someone else's help or cooperation.

Bush's ratings continue to slip, hitting his lowest levels ever sometime in July. If the Democrats could put up some sort of, oh, I don't know, good candidate, he'd be out in November.

February 23rd, 2004: Bush's ratings have already hit their lowest point ever - OTOH, Kerry seems to be shaping up somewhat as an actual viable Democratic candidate for president. It just might be that they could win this November...

...OTOH, Ralph "Thanks for getting Bush elected" Nader has thrown his hat in the ring again. Why, I haven't a clue. Should we end up with Bush winning by a tiny margin again, he's pretty much killed the Green Party for years without achieving any beneficial effects...


As it is, though, the fact that, even if they don't like him, at least people know who he is, will probably get Bush reelected...
Nov, 2004 ...and Bush is reelected - though it is (again) by a very close margin (at least this time he actually does win). Given, though, that this time, he's the incumbent - and the Democratic candidate is, well, pretty much a non-presense from the national viewpoint - he's actually done worse this time than the first. He'll be the last Republican president for at least the next three elections.

November 3rd, 2004: Well, that was a hit - depressingly enough. I note, though, that - somehow - Bush's people are managing to call a 3% margin over Kerry a "mandate." That's scary, but not unpredictable either (whoever wins, by almost any margin calls it a "mandate") as the Republican image-makers are real good at, well, lying effectively.

(there's no other way to describe what they do: It's lying, pure and simple. The Demos do it too, of course, they just aren't as good at it)

Of course, to be fair, to someone who actually lost the last election, yet still became president, I suppose winning an election, even by only 3%, does look pretty "mandatey."

Now, if only the second part of the prediction is correct...


While Bush is reelected, the House and the Senate have shifted slightly towards the Democrats again - and many of the Republicans (now that the election is over) are trying to distance themselves from Bush - as the economy's still doing badly, and winning a war only gathers you so much political/election clout when the economy is bad (as Bush's father found out).

November 3rd, 2004: Depressingly, a complete miss - they actually picked up a couple of seats.

January 11th, 2005: OTOH, I did not expect the mass defection of Bush's cabinet post-election. Well, I would expect that any "retirements" would happen post-election - no one wants to ding their bosses campaign - but I didn't expect so darn many. Just for fun, I'll be "Mister Cynical" and suggest that they're all leaving now before the results of two Bush terms tars them as politically dead.

November 23rd, 2006: Well, maybe not a miss after all - I was just early. I guess I gave them too much credit in my original prediction, because it apparently took the voters an extra two years to discover that Iraq was going wrong. Anywho, both the Senate and House are now Democrat controlled and Republicans are now trying to distance themselves as far from Bush as they can. I'm going to call this prediction a hit.


On the airline front, every large carrier is either in bankruptcy or out of business altogether. Some congressmen have actually suggested nationalizing - ala Amtrak - the remaining international carriers into a “U.S. Airline” (“Amair?”). This won't happen (the fact that Amtrak remains in worse shape than even the airlines kinda puts a crimp on the idea), but that it's even suggested shows how bad things are.

Actually, air travel in general is beginning to recover, but when it does, it will be a mostly different set of airlines that take the lead. Nice, if you want a cheap trip to Hawaii - not so nice if you own, say, United stock...

September 9th, 2003: Already seems to be happening to a certain extent; United's losing over a billion this year as the company shrinks, while JetBlue - one of those "mostly different set of airlines" - is going to make a quarter-billion while expanding like crazy. November 3rd, 2004: The big carriers are still in trouble, but not near (mostly) the "bankruptcy or out of business" level I predicted. I'll call this one a slight hit, but mostly a miss.


Meanwhile, though international terrorism against the U.S. is beginning to drop again (it's still much higher than pre-war rates, of course), domestic terrorism is on an upswing. Along with all the right-wing loonies who were bombing (or, at least, wanting to bomb...) things pre-war, now the left end of the political spectrum is developing its own groups of bombing loonies as they become increasingly concerned that the only way to get rid of Bush (who, to many, is looking more and more like a religious loony with a desire to jump-start Armageddon - I'm pretty sure they're probably wrong...pretty sure...) and keep the country from becoming a “fascist dictatorship bent on world-domination” is through violence.

Look! Bush's brought back the 60's!

Most of their attacks are directly against government targets - you don't want to work in a DOJ, FBI, or CIA office building - but, of course, “civilian” casualties mount up too.

January 11th, 2005: It's still early, but I'll call this one a miss (at least, by this prediction's standpoint) as we've seen neither a downturn in international terrorism, nor an upturn in domestic...I don't know if this counts as an improvement or not...

OTOH, Who knows what will happen at the inauguration - domestic terrorists could blow-up half of Washington demanding a "return of American Freedom" or some such - then I'll feel like such a fool for wimping out on this prediction so soon... ...mind, the international terrorism half of the prediction still fails - it's going up...
2005-2008 Civil rights in the U.S. continue to decay (as do reading skills - school budgets won't recover for years). Oh, they would have anyway - an administration with John “What Bill of Rights?” Ashcroft as AG is going to have that effect - but like most things, the war's made the decline worse.

Heck, even pre-war, the administration was equating “100% for the war, 100% for Bush” with being a “loyal American” - and not being for the war or Bush with being a “traitorous, terrorist sympathizer.” Now, with domestic terrorists actively fighting to oust Bush, expect a whole bunch of new, restrictive laws to start being pushed though Congress.

It's not (quite) going to get to the “vast numbers of political prisoners” stage - but expect major, sweeping, and - in the end - detrimental changes to things like political freedom, the internet (this page will pop up a flag on me at the FBI for example), the ability of researchers to talk, and America in general. Most of these changes will be permanent - all will make the U.S. a worse place to live (and the rest of the world worse too, through side effects).

June 5th, 2003: And this has already started. Read this...

January 8th, 2007: I am so calling this a hit. From killing habeas corpus to stating that "terrorists" have no civil rights - oh, and we get to define who a terrorist is - to (latest) saying that he can read our mail any time he likes, without a warrant, Bush & Co. have done more to kill our rights in this country than anyone else in the last two centuries. IMHO, at the very least, he, the VP - and every one in their cabinet - should be impeached, jailed, have all their assets confiscated, and then expelled permanently from the United States. At the worst, they should all be expelled to Guantanamo, to become its only prisoners for life...

...but that may just be me...


Crime in the U.S. is up, both violent and non. So are the various forms of abuse. So are alcohol and drug use. So is the suicide rate. All of this is due to the continuing economic crisis and the deterioration in education, health services and - even slightly - road quality. Because most politicians don't want to admit that worse economy = more crime/etc. (because the economy is supposedly their fault...), a new round of “get tough on crime” (and abuse and drug use and...) laws get proposed and occasionally passed. This actually effects crime/etc. very little, but does manage to put even more people in prison, make the economy slightly worse, speed up the deterioration of civil rights, and generally make the U.S. a worse place to live.

As a side effect of this, literally hundreds of thousands of people in the United States die who would not in a non-Iraq war timeline. The worldwide total is in the millions...
May, 2008 As part of his push to try and show his administration was a good one (and thus improve the party's presidential hopes for November) Bush celebrates the returning of full control of Iraq to the new Iraqi government and the pulling out of (most) of the troops. “We have disarmed one who would destroy this country and brought freedom and democracy to the people he oppressed.”

July 10th, 2003: General Tommy Franks told Congress today that "I anticipate we'll be involved in Iraq in the future. Whether that means two years or four years, I don't know." So, my pegging the final pull-out at 2008 seems reasonable so far (yes, I know that's five years, not four - or two, for that matter - but nothing in government ever happens on schedule).

January 28th, 2004: "The Army's top general said Wednesday he is making plans based on the possibility that the Army will be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that "for planning purposes" he has ordered his staff to consider how the Army would replace the force that is now rotating into Iraq with another force of similar size in 2005 and again in 2006."

August 25th, 2008: Wow! Bush is so incompetent, he couldn't even manage this. Best he could do for his party was - after years of going "timetable, bad!...timetable, bad! - was...set a timetable for withdrawal in 2011. And even then he's three months late...

I suspect this is more from the party leaning on him as hard as they could to do something to counter Obama promise to withdraw troops "within eighteen months" if he is elected.

This way, if McCain gets in, come the next election they can either point to the withdrawal and go "see, we gave you your withdrawal!" or, if the withdrawal date slips...and slips again...and they can blame "circumstances on the ground" (and probably the Democrats), and go "we told you a timetable was a bad idea."

And if it's President Obama...well, they can go "hey, we invented the withdrawal first!" in 2012 - and hope no one notices they not only didn't, but fought it tooth and nail...

...and you know, probably, most people won't notice...

*SIGH* Well, at least I know my timetable of "how long the troops will be in Iraq" was a lot more accurate than Bush's, or Cheney's, or their Generals, or anyone else who pushed for the war.


The cynical give it six months before it collapses, but it actually proves to be quite stable - in a Third-World sorta way. It sufficiently looks enough like a democracy that Bush can crow proudly how the U.S. restored such to Iraq, but in fact, apart from more realistic vote counts (no more “99.99% for” votes), it actually only give nominally more voice to the “people” than did Saddam's government.

It's an improvement, true - but we're not talking a high-bar in the first place here...

February 2nd, 2005: Well, it may be a little early to post on this prediction, but:

"Iraq Election: On September 4 1967 the New York Times published an upbeat story on presidential elections held by the South Vietnamese puppet regime at the height of the Vietnam war. Under the heading "US encouraged by Vietnam vote: Officials cite 83% turnout despite Vietcong terror", the paper reported that the Americans had been "surprised and heartened" by the size of the turnout "despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting". A successful election, it went on, "has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam". The echoes of this weekend's coverage about Iraq's elections are so close as to be uncanny."


The world economy bottomed out a little over two years prior and is beginning to become quite vigorous - but it's too late for the U.S. elections. The Republican candidate (not Cheney - he died a couple of years prior) loses by a considerable margin to the Democratic one.

Mind, the new president won't be able to affect things much. Eight years of Bush and the Iraqi war have pretty much destroyed U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. economy is actually rising slower than many other First World ones - and - of course, the U.S. has no energy policy to speak of.

August 25th, 2008: Well, that one's a miss - we've probably got years before the economy - world or otherwise - "bottoms out" - but then, I said my economic predictions were (unpredictedly) running about five years behind. Move this one to 2010, then.

(someone who - when California is having an energy “shortage” - suggests that the solution is to drill for more oil in Alaska, in spite of the fact that California's electricity doesn't come from oil and, in any event, such drilling wouldn't effect anything energy-wise for years and years, doesn't have any sort of grasp of “energy policy” to speak of)

Naturally, this couldn't be a worse time to have no energy policy, because worldwide oil production's just passed its peak and oil prices will begin a long, slow rise that won't stop, well, ever...

August 25th, 2008: Well, that one's a hit. Mind you, a lot of the recent rise is due to a combination of speculation and the falling dollar. But strip that away [November 5th, 2008: As a worldwide recession has now done] and you still find a core of rising prices for oil that aren't going to fall...ever...short of us finding a replacement for it and thus kicking the bottom out of the market. At which point, the price of oil won't actually matter...

And Bush's solution for this? Why, drill off the coasts! A "solution" that will deliver such a trivial amount of extra oil that it'll have essentially no effect on prices...and won't even have that for fifteen, twenty years...

...don't you love someone who never learns anything?

Of course, almost all the other politicians in Washington seem to have to climb on the "drill of the coasts" train, in spite of the fact that it won't do anything, so Bush is hardly the only stupid one. Then again, we seem to live in an entire country of "stupid ones," so that's probably not a surprise. Who said, "the problem with representative government is that it very often is..."

...Oh right, that was me.

At least the stupid "gas tax vacation" idea's seemed to have died.
May 2020 Iraqi government collapses again (fourth time in a decade) as the entire Middle East breaks down into ever smaller warring states. Much of the “Third World,” in fact, is doing the same, while most of the First couldn't care less - after all, there's no oil there now - and couldn't do anything about it anyway as it's in the middle of a huge depression. The U.S., though, sends in troops to fight “to preserve Iraqi freedom, bought so dearly years ago...”

In fact, it has more to do with it being about twenty years or so since the last war and it's just time for the traditional “U.S. Bi-decadale conflict.”


Net Results of the War in Iraq (vs an AH world without such):

Prediction Color Code - Hit, Miss, Partial Hit, Ambiguous/Undecided

These results are as of January 8th, 2007, and may/will change as time goes by...


Current Timeline with the War No War AH Timeline
Increased terrorism against the U.S. Increased terrorism against the U.S., though not as much and with far less of the domestic variety
Decreased freedom in the U.S. Decreased freedom in the U.S., though not as much and here it might have been mostly recoverable post-Bush
Recession returns - economic recovery delayed by at least five years. Economic recovery start slowly in 2003
National deficits increase every year for next decade or two National deficits increase for next three years
Crime, abuse, drug and alcohol use all increase both in the U.S. and worldwide The same - but much, much less due to the swifter end to the recession and better education, health, and other services
U.S. foreign policy essentially collapses for next decade. U.S. foreign policy takes some major hits during the Bush years, but remains fairly strong
Loss of lots and lots of money that could have bought useful things is used up by the war and following recession. Education, health, and "infrastructure" quality all go down and can't begin to recover for at least a decade Education, health, and "infrastructure" quality all go down for a few years until Bush wears off, then begin to slowly rise again.

To sum: Bush's “War so he can get Reelected in 2004” (excuse me, “To Fight Terrorism/Restore Iraqi Freedom” - or whatever catch-phrase his handlers come up with) has made the world in general and the U.S. in specific a worse place economically, a less free place (even with the slight gain in Iraq), a less safe place, and a place with less chances for the future than it would have had sans such a war...


Look! Comments!

[June 5th, 2003] Brian Moore wrote me a quick note:

"I'll bet a paycheck today you're wrong."

to which I did an equally quick answer:

In details, definitely. Heck, even in general trends there's too many variables to give any more than a "maybe" or "good chance" when describing these sort of predictions.

But it's a likely (to my mind) future, even if it doesn't end up being the future. And it's more likely than any of the other predictions I've heard, if for no other reason than I did try to follow a middle course between the administration's "everything will come up roses" and it's opponent's "oh look, WWIII" views.

He quickly expanded on this with:

Actually, even before we invaded Iraq, a former intelligence chief has stated that America faces WW IV (he considers the cold war WW III).... actually, you could make the case that this is WW V if you consider the French-Indian war the real WW I :).

Your predictions, though, are predicated on the continued failure of the economy. Given the events of the past couple days -- Dow closes above 9000 for the first time since last August, and in the same day,  Martha Stewart Omnimedia stock up 5% despite the fact that Martha has been handed a 9-count federal indictment, and the day before, Alan Greenspan, who has been no cheerleader for the Administration's tax policy, stating that we're in for a stark turnaround in the second half of this year (a rare sign of optimism from him these days), it looks like your base assumption is falling by the wayside.

Personally, I don't think the economy is going to get any worse, because the only area in which there hasn't been growth is in jobs. But 4% unemployment is neither sustainable nor is it desirable. We actually WANT an unemployment rate of about 5 to 7 percent. Anything higher than that is too much.. we don't want people to be forever unable to find work, but we do want companies to have operational flexibility in hiring so they don't have to attract employees with ludicrous compensation packages with no complementary gain in hourly productivity. That only serves to drive corporate earnings (hence stock prices and employment) down.

And my response (over a month later - hey, what can I say, I procrastinate a lot...):

"actually, you could make the case that this is WW V if you consider the French-Indian war the real WW I" I had a friend who years ago had it up to WW VII or VIII by the time he counted all the international conflicts. You're right in that you can argue this...;)

Anywho, I'll agree wholeheartedly that my economic predictions are the weakest part of this whole thing - heck, experts can't predict it with any sort of reliability, why would I be able?

But while the Dow Jones has gone back up, it hasn't exactly rocketed back up and it still seems to be "hunting" for a clear direction. Current (7/8/2003) unemployment rates are 6.4%, which is within your "5 to 7 percent" range, but which are still the highest in nine years and they're still going up (and have in each of the three months since I first wrote this page). Keep this up, and they'll pass your "7% desirable" limit sometime in September.

Meanwhile, thanks to the wonders of a(nother) budget impasse, California's got a good chance of going economically belly-up soon (which, admittedly, has mostly to do with local politics and Enron - though Enron has a lot to do with the Bush administration's FERC wonderful non-regulation - and little to do with the war. Part of the problem here is it's hard to say just what causes any given economic effect, but the war certainly hasn't helped the Californian situation) which could pretty much tank everything.

And I don't think that "Your predictions, though, are predicated on the continued failure of the economy" is necessarily a true statement - though I think the economy isn't going to get very much better (and will probably get worse) any time soon. I think that many of my predictions don't require any sort of specific economic status.

Others do, sorta, but even with a roaring economy, the Federal Deficit is still going to go up massively (it will take a long time before any improving economy translates into enough improved Federal revenues to balance out that!), tax monies are still going to be spent, not on useful things at home, but on the military in Iraq (and whereever else Bush gets us involved in), and the effects on education and the infrastructure are still going to hang around for decades.

Still, we'll see...

November 18th, 2003: Okay, we've seen - Definite miss on my part on "economy will get worse." As to the rest of it...

[October 30th, 2003] Dan Goodman made some generalized comments on what the future will bring:

"I suspect it's not possible for there to be a lone superpower. There has to be another, so other countries can choose up sides.

If so, then the US has actually lost power since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Something to figure into any future scenario: the increasing number of jobs being outsourced to foreign countries. Some of this will probably stop - state governments are probably going to get laws (supported by business and labor working together) forbidding it. But much of it won't.

One obvious result: there will be fewer immigrants with certain skills, since people with those skills will get hired in their own countries."

[January 1st, 2004] First comment of the year from Patricia...

Hello David Johnson,

Baby boomer here, (Patricia) just browsing and saw this article you wrote. Have lived in the MidEast and South Asia as youngster and teenager, also Europe. Am interested in what happens to my old stomping grounds. With no direct involvement with Iraqis, I nevertheless wish to comment: our American history concerning the eradication of American Indians, and the conquest of the Barbary Coast pirates, which took many years, are for me two examples of success....through persistence. Much to the detriment of the "enemy". Where are the Indians now? Dead and assimilated. Where are the Barbary pirates? Their spiritual descendants - gangsters, thieves, terrorists, murderers -- are still with us, but we continue to combat them in every way possible. Why do we do that? The terrorists bombing hotels, ships, office buildings, colleges, are just like any gangster. If you do not fight them, they defeat you, they take over. Kind of like "While England Slept"....we were truly sleeping while the rest of the world outside our borders was in flames. As to the period we're entering now, it will be bloody, but the aim of the administration is to keep the damage off our soil---in other words, limit the collateral damage to our civilians, for we do not ever want to see another Sept. 11. And recall that on that day, the original intended targets didn't get hit in entirety. Probably Bush himself was Target No. 1, and if I were him, I'd be pissed! Come on, they were aiming their guns right at him. (I have family who work in the gov. too) I take it personally, as a former Federal worker who lived in D.C. The flight of the Congressmen from the Capitol, the White House employees fleeing down the street...this was horror....surreal...unbelievable yet real. To do nothing would be criminal. He has acted, I am happy with it. I have been privileged to get a glimpse of some of those countries...Afghanistan, India and passing through the Mediterranean and Red Sea....was born in Indonesia....(am not Indonesian) These people truly have been deformed and "hijacked" by the fundamentalist terrorists. To not fight them would be suicidal on our part. What will happen in Iraq? It will eventually get better, even if there are total relapses into anarchy and despotism....freedom will re-surface in the end. Believe me, our nation is so young......this process takes centuries. Now, about the American Indians. It is not incorrect to say the settlers who charged across the land and killed off the Indians were committing genocide. So the victors wrote the history. There is really nothing that is going to come of this as far as righting the wrong----however, the lesson is that the persistence of the settlers and their determination along with their vast numbers finally overcame the native Americans. They simply crumbled. Now, the terrorists have access to weapons of mass destruction of all types, due to their alliances with terrorist-sponsor states. This changes everything. Therefore, there was really no choice but to invade Iraq in 2003. Nit picking about Osama and Hussein is pointless. The war is on. The goal is to keep our damage to a minimum. This will be a cruel war, but not often fought on the home front. I believe the change of Mummar Khaddafi's attitude is a great gain. I have great hopes. As a former embassy brat (child) I know now that I was a target for any anti-American protest or violence, but our family retired from the profession before the violence accelerated. We were in the last years of the peace. Now I have the realization that the Africa Embassy bombings and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole were as important as the attack on the World Trade Center (both) yet we Americans were not taking notice. I had grown jaded too. I am also in the thick of it as I am an American but my Mom is a native born French woman, and there are some lively talks at home. So she keeps me on my toes. Maybe next election in Iraq the Iraqis will have more than one candidate to vote for. We have a whole gamut of people to vote for. It doesn't get any better than this -- only in Americ

...and I didn't get around to answering it for nearly two months!

"Where are the Indians now? Dead and assimilated. Where are the Barbary pirates?"

Ummm, the analogy between Barbary pirates, American Indians and terrorists is at best vague - at worst, misleading.

We'll ignore for a minute that invading Iraq has absolutely zip to do with "fighting terrorism" (in fact, all it's done is create more terrorism, to the detriment of the solder who dies from terrorists - excuse me, "insurgents" - on average of one every day in Iraq and the far greater number of Iraqis doing the same. As they put it on The Daily Show when Saddam was captured "today, after two years of hard fighting, we've finally captured the man who had nothing to do with September 11th..." ) and compare the situations here:

Fighting Barbary pirates is completely different from fighting terrorists. Basically, all you have to do with pirates is sink their ships and take over their ports. This is a pretty simple military operation. You can then - in this case - force the local governments to make sure that no one uses those ports for piracy. This is pretty simple (again) because you can project force against those governments and - since you've already sunk their ships - the pirates will be hard pressed to acquire more. They're very expensive, after all.

To have terrorists be in an equivalent situation, they'd have to be attacking the U.S. with their own personal fleet of destroyers, with maybe a cruiser or two tossed in for good luck. Unfortunately, that's not how they're doing it...

BTW, note that after literally millennia of fighting them, we still have pirates out there, robbing ships and killing people. Oh, they might not operate out of the Barbary Coast (well, some still might), but they still operate. As an analogy to how "persistence" will win out over terrorists, therefore, it would probably be best left un-analogized as it is most discouraging...

As for American Indians, well, again the analogy of the fight with terrorists just isn't really there. It was also a straight up military operation. It also only worked because Old World diseases killed anywhere up to 90% of the Indians who lived here first. Now, unless you're suggesting we use a bioweapon on every Islamic country (or concentration) out there, then permanently occupy as American Territory those lands afterwards, how we "persisted" against American Indians doesn't really count...

Not to mention, they are hardly all "Dead and [or] assimilated" - the current population of American Indians in the U.S. is back up to pre-contact levels and there's "assimilated" and then there's "assimilated." I also note that one of the big homegrown "terrorist" organizations of the 70's was AIM - the American Indian Movement. Yep, a century after we "persisted" them into death or assimilation, they somehow still managed to blow up stuff.

"but the aim of the administration is to keep the damage off our soil"

No, the aim of our administration - IMHO - is to get itself reelected. Fighting in Iraq - however good getting rid of Saddam is (and it is) - won't reduce terrorism one bit. It will - and has in fact - just increase it.

"These people truly have been deformed and 'hijacked' by the fundamentalist terrorists. To not fight them would be suicidal on our part."

Problem is, Iraq wasn't one of the states "'hijacked' by fundamentalist terrorists" - at least, until we got there. Okay, only reason it wasn't was because such would diminish Saddam's power in the country - and he didn't allow little things like that (usually by lightly killing all those who threatened his power...) - but still, it wasn't.

Now, it's 50/50 the place will end up being taken over by the fundies, like Iran in the 70s/80s and Afghanistan in the 90s/00s. And apart from continually going in and killing any such government that forms (which has the unfortunate side-effect of increasing support for such government not only there but all over) until, basically, they stop forming such or they run out of people (bet on the second option), there's not a heck of a lot we can do about it.

"Now, about the American Indians. It is not incorrect to say the settlers who charged across the land and killed off the Indians were committing genocide...Therefore, there was really no choice but to invade Iraq in 2003."

Again, unless you plan to kill off all (most) of the Iraqis and add their land as U.S. territory, this kind of "persistence" doesn't map well onto the current situation.

The big problem with this is that "persistence" only works when you're being persistent at the right activity. Our current "persistence" in Iraq is the wrong activity. Making more enemies and making your enemy's propaganda look even better ("see, we told you the Americans just wanted to take over") will not make us safer - now or in the future.

[May 31st, 2005] No one seemed to notice this page for awhile, but then Allen wrote me a couple of letters - longggg letters - this is the second one (as I was too lazy to answer both):

David,

I was just looking at your "predictions" again and I got very disturbed by how you went from a rational opening that admits that things could go right to showing yourself as one who seems to have let the Iraq War scar him deeply. You won't "let it go". You won't accept a historical reality without trying to use a religious belief (leftism) to try to color following events. At least, leftists "gave up" on the Soviet Union. You tried to say that Gorbachev ended communism despite Reagan's unnecessary bravado...but you knew that nobody would listen to that crap so you settled for making sporadic reports via the media that Russia was going to hell in a hand basket (and supposedly still is worse off now than before the collapse of communism - I have lived there and there is no comparison to the way life in Russia is today and the way it was even 4 years ago when I had to bring bottled water in my suitcase - now you can find a great, safe sushi restaurant on every corner in St. Petersburg).

Let's take your opening remarks. You say the "best scenario" is that the Iraq War spawns democracies in other countries and prevents San Diego from being nuked by March 2005. Guess what? Your "best scenario" came true. Nukes were basically taken away from Libya in December 2003, after their oil spigot from Saddam was shut down and their benefactor was captured. Any historian would admit that this, from the point of view of another time line, saved a city or two somewhere (Tel Aviv at least). Why lie about that? Why obfuscate? Why not just accept that sometimes a conservative President (think Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan) does the right thing at the right moment that any good Democratic president would have done as well. Jimmy Carter banned asbestos and saved my life maybe. Any conservative can admit that no Republican president would have achieved that ban. Why not just say that Al Gore would have done a "better job" about removing Saddam after 9-11 but things otherwise went the way they had to go.

As if Al Gore had a good relationship with Pervez Mushareff (not). Al Gore would have been disastrous in the war on terror because conservatives in potential enemy countries admire American conservatives as counterparts...especially when you define conservatives as those who believe in power coming from the barrel of a gun.

You really don't need to harp on the Iraq War to be a good liberal. You really don't. It was just something that had to happen, something that would not have been stopped. Bush would have been crushed in 2004 for not attacking. And the people who would vote against him for not attacking would be reasonable people. You certainly wouldn't vote for him for not attacking.

Also, your opening line says the "best case scenario" would be that democracy would happen and start spreading. Well...what about Lebanon...do you think that just because a new Lebanese leader admits to having been against the Iraq War (when it began)...that this means that he was not motivated like the others to kick the Syrians out by the Iraq War and the pressure from the USA and France for Syria to give the Lebanese freedom? Haven't you seen the quotes by Lebanese leaders that they have the Iraqi democracy to thank for their new democracy? Your Time Line doesn't see those remarks. Your Alternate Timeline has Saddam still in power and the Syrians still in Lebanon.

It is fine to be a leftist as long as you don't blindly follow every tenet of leftism like it is a religion. Please recognize, from your own criteria about the spreading of democracy and the capture of nuclear materials, that you were wrong in being so pessimistic. Recognize like many liberals, especially in foreign countries, that Bush actually did do the right thing by starting the ball rolling on democracy in the Middle East. Recognize that Germany is about to elect a pro-Bush leader named Angela Merkel.

Recognize that, if you continue to be blind on this matter, that a revolution in Iran will FINALLY convince you that you were, in fact, wrong to be so partisan and pessimistic. Not to mention unprofessional as a historian.

Don't let a revolution in Iran cause you to push the field posts even further like you did about Iraq.

Your comments about the Iraq War show that you continually pushed the goalposts. First you didn't think that democracy would happen. Now its a matter of "well he got the democracy part right but destroyed America's prestige in the process."

According to whom? The leftist political parties of other countries? What proof do you have outside of leftist circles that America has lost prestige for bringing democracy to Iraq? What proof is there, outside journalists' biased rants on CNN, that anyone in Argentina or Madagascar or Russia really cared whether France could keep its oil deal with Saddam or not? Why did denying France its cosy relationship with Saddam a reason for conservatives in other countries to feel that Bush lost prestige for America in the whole affair? Do you think that Saudi Clerics admire France? Does the King of Jordan admire France? For that matter, do the Dutch admire France (according to a recent study, the French are considered by other Europeans to be the most arrogant and asocial society in Europe). The exposed Oil for Food Scandal lost the United Nations and France a lot of prestige. The Rathergate story lost the American media a lot of prestige. The fake indian college professor in Colorado and the fact that more students in college are conservative than ever before has lost college professors a lot of prestige.

Where can you quantify, outside biased "surveys" that the USA in general really lost any prestige? The British elections where Tony Blair and the Tories crushed the radical left perhaps? The German polls that show about 70% wanting to elect a pro-Bush Angela Merkel? The Egyptian college students who are preparing for the first democratic elections in the history of Egypt and still say they don't like Bush...perhaps? Or maybe you feel that the Spanish election, two days after a terror attack, showed the world, with its 51% socialist victory that nobody respected George Bush and US foreign policy? Do you know about the scandal where the Spanish people are basically realizing that the socialists perhaps cooperated with the terrorists in order to win power? I cannot believe this would be true, but an election in Spain today would be very interesting.

Oh I know. You surmise that the world would be a better place if we hadn't liberated Iraq because that wasn't worth the loss of respect and prestige afforded us by CANADIANS! Or at least the 60% of Canadians that voted liberal (the western provinces like to say they voted for Bush).

We're talking about CANADIAN government that pledged $54,000 to the Tsunami Relief Fund. We're talking about a socialist government that was just caught in something far worse than Watergate. In Canada, western province newspapers are the most pro-Bush newspapers in North America. They cannot stand the Blue Province of Ontario that unfortunately has such a huge population (largely of immigrants from the third world who were given citizenship only upon proof that they were poor, needed welfare and believed in Marxism).

For instance: now that you've had a few minutes to think about it...are you willing, as a historian, to deny that the Libyans gave up anything important three days after Saddam was captured? At least, if you want to criticize Bush, you could say that we don't know what Egypt took from the Libyans 2 days before the Libyans "surrendered" everything else. You can say that 100 Iraqi scientists were working on the Libyan nukes. Where are those scientists now? Did Bush screw up? Are our enemies still working on nukes? If so, we can criticize Bush from the right more than we can criticize him from the left. He is being sloppy maybe. But, if Egypt is going to be a democracy, it will be less dangerous that they might get nukes. Under Kerry, would the democracy train come to a halt? I don't know. But remember that Bush started it. It isn't ideologically right wing to remind anyone of that.

Let me take your final comment: that Bush helps enemy propaganda. Doesn't that take nerve in the current media scandal environment? Can you not see what the American media does for enemy propaganda? Do you really think that "Abu Graib" and "Koran-Gate" hurt the US image because of the events themselves or because of the way the US media flaunted things and spun things to hurt Bush politically? Any professional historian will write, in the future, about how the print media sacrificed its credibility and lost readers to "blogs" because of the hysterical way that at least half the public felt they endangered the lives of our soldiers by feeding the enemy propaganda like "Fahrenheit 9-11" that called the terrorists "minutemen" and "freedom fighters". A media culture of self selecting, self agrandizing "journalists" that somehow had to prove, despite angry cancellation letters from Democrat subscribers like myself, that a conservative president was wrong about a part of the war on terror that THEY THEMSELVES helped promote along with 76% of the population.

Do you honestly think that Newsweek will recover its image in an Internet age when there are alternatives that didn't exist before? Do you realize that www.instapundit.com is now getting financing for a newsweekly that will compete internationally with Newsweek and basically go over what Newsweek and the New York Times, etc, says with comments about how this is incorrect and that is biased, etc. It is a shame that it has to come to that. Or maybe it is not a shame to finally have competing newsweeklies that directly criticize what each other writes. Don't you wish that Time Magazine would specifically take Newsweek to task for comments and articles? Don't you wish that ABC would pillory CBS for bias, instead of circling the wagons and acting like everyone has to defend each other and the socalled "honor" of journalism? Blogs don't DEFEND each other. It is against their very nature not to expose lies even when told by their favorite colleagues. In fact the very idea of one media outlet defending others and "circling the wagons" is rather frightening. But it is happening in the USA of 2005.

With Vietnam, Americans noticed a problem with the media (defined as a self selecting cadre of like minded people who choose to work long hours for little pay in order to "change the world") but, in the end, they just accepted what the media was telling them. They accepted that the Vietnam was was "wrong" and "we lost." This isn't going to happen this time. But journalists clearly think it will happen again. Sadly, the terrorists feel the same way because the journalists are egging them on. We have two sets of blinkered people blindly soldiering on while the US Marines and the American people are looking right at them and wondering "what the F do these people think they are going to achieve, victory in Vietnam again?"

I still recall the V for victory sign that some Sunni youths in a high rise Baghdad apartment flashed for the CNN camera on the first day of the Iraq War. They were playing into what they thought was moral support from the international leftist community. CNN dutifully captured their sentiments.

Now smart historians might argue that Bush and Rumsfeld are actually working hand in glove with the media to distract the enemy from what is really going on. I've realized since I wrote that last email that it doesn't have to be a covert operation in Iran that the otherwise meaningless Kuran Gate scandal is hiding. I feel that it could be that Bush is using the media scandals and all the left wing right wing arguing to both make a point to "on the fence" arabs that they should be arguing as well (I don't know they would take that as a good thing) and it could also be a way of hiding from the media the very fact that, while foreign aholes are fighting Americans and Shiites and Kurds in Iraq...their home towns are all having municipal elections!!

Those who make it home from Iraq, minus an arm or a leg, will see that everything they fought for was lost...that their sisters can walk without burkas and drive cars...that their uncle is hoping to win an election to be mayor of the next town. Their brother actually has made some money. That nobody is going to the mosque anymore on Friday.

There will be an Arab version of "Born on the 4th of July", that features a young man who went off to fight for "Islam" in Iraq and came home crippled to a free society.

In other words...you wouldn't want the media to alert Al Qaeda that democracy via George Bush is pushing forward BEHIND THE LINES of the terrorists! The dumb Sunni terrorists are in Iraq fighting a hopeless battle against increasingly competent and determined Shiite soldiers and police while the media eggs them on with moral support (and Bush says "Bring em on")...while the real changes are happening in their home countries.

Also, there has been a benefit to the New York Times not leading with front page stories of specific Iraqi schools or specific Iraqis waving or helping Americans. If our media was promoting specific friendly Iraqis, insurgents would kill those specific Iraqis the next day. If our media heavily promoted new water treatment plans in specific places...those plants would be dynamited by terrorists the next day, forcing the media to say "the place we reported on yesterday was destroyed and everyone we spoke to was killed."

By ignoring all the good that happens in Iraq, the good isn't specifically attacked. The media especially serves Iraqis by spending a lot of precious time on "scandals" like Abu Graib....that allowed terrorists to take a pause. The American media was "doing their job for them" so they didn't have to murder anyone during the heyday of the scandals. You will notice that the beheadings by Zarkawi finally ended during the Abu Graib scandal. Zarkawi didn't want people to actually realize that the human rights difference between him and Rumsfeld was a billion miles. The point is that the beheadings stopped when Rumsfeld was under fire for putting panties on prisoners heads. Maybe the corporate owners of the media worked with Rumsfeld to achieve this end. Who knows?

Who is to say that Kuran-Gate isn't a way for the media, in cooperation with Bush, to steal the thunder from the latest bloody suicide wave going on in Iraq? Maybe Kuran-Gate is designed to give Al Qaeda its necessary propaganda while the new Shiite government consolidates and prepares to wipe Al Qaeda out like Pakistan says it did.

Now let's look at how you might have your own timeline as opposed to my time line for actual history. You can agree that written history started about 6,000 years ago. One of the first recorded civilizations was the City of Mari in Syria about 5,000 years ago. Cuneiform records show that the leaders of this city failed to preemptively attack an army of threatening looking poor people who surrounded the city one summer but produced no weapons and attacked no caravans. The leaders kept telling the police to be nice to the poor people even though they seemed to be casing the joint and there were rumors that they were preparing "weapons of mass destruction". Over the final tablets that show the leaders being like John Kerry (I know war and I don't like it)...are the ashes of the city itself mixed with the crushed skulls of the adult males. The enemy had developed special fire balls that were shot from catapaults into the city.

Ever hear that story? Probably not. It is a historical lesson in favor of preemptive war. I've learned since 9-11 that all my history professors were probably leftists who kept such stories from me because it didn't fit their religious ideologies. So for instance, my gay Greek history professors in college. They gave me an A because they thought I was cute. But I did study some and found they never explained why Greek democracy failed so rapidly (after only a few centuries). Wasn't Greek democracy supposed to last forever?? What does the fall of Greek democracy say about how we should behave in the modern world? It says to me that someone like Philip of Greece can overrun us and end it all. Hitler and Stalin proved that democracies can be overrun and occupied for generations. It is only the US Marines and US Army, Navy and Air Force that have kept the miraculous trend of democracies overthrowing dictatorships and not the other way around.

As a leftist, would you like to see the trend reversed?

Let's go further: The Bible tells a great story from a hard-right-wing bias of Middle East history from about 2000BC to 200 AD (Jesus, however, seemed to be a major liberal like me). The Old Testament says that, whenever society turned away from conservatism, they got attacked and defeated big time by enemies. This tells me that the old Israel (Judeah lasted longer) made the mistake the new Israel isn't going to make: which is to stop being vigilant with a well-prepared military that isn't afraid to start a war when they know the enemy wants a war (technically Israel attacked 4 countries at the same time in 1967 while the other countries were preparing to launch an attack themselves. Israel is still blamed by liars in the Arab world for having "started the war". Luckily, even most Arabs are honest enough to admit that Israel basically survived an attack on it by 4 countries (the technicality of who actually fired first is considered meaningless).

By the way, the technicality of who fired first in the Iraq War is also meaningless historically. The majority of Americans believe that 9-11 was the first shot in a war that had to include toppling Saddam as part of the program of democratizing the enemy now or nuking them later.

So the Old Testament is basically one big historically accurate, if not biased, testament to the value of keeping a military well-armed, well motivated and ready. They somehow tie this readiness to "maintaining traditional values and patriotism"...which is logical. You can see that the USA is now a superpower because of the influence of the Old Testament on American culture (the Bible totally infuses American history). Almost the entire Old Testament is one big warning to NOT get distracted by enemies via propaganda that weakens one from within and without.

Other history sources say that the Babylonian Empire that sacked Jerusalem 700 years IIRC BC was actually a great liberal superpower that felt it had to tame the arrogant little rogue nation of Judea. I wonder who was right or wrong back then. I wonder what the politics of "right" and "left" were back then. I don't know because my history teachers acted like there were no differences between right and left. They gave me one storyline without much detail. I think I got the left wing version. I don't remember.

Let's bypass ancient Greece where democracy failed...presumably because the people of Athens voted AGAINST DEFENDING THEMSELVES when Philip advanced on them!

Moving on to Rome. The Roman Republic was destroyed, according to the director of Star Wars, by the Senate voting for their rights to be removed. Is that true? If so, then this event in history speaks for liberalism.

So you have a tie score: anti-military liberalism destroyed Greek democracy and conservatism destroyed the Roman Republic?

Moving on to the Crusades...if they had happened 300 years earlier, there would be no Islam today. The "Christians" flanked a Muslim advance into France and probably made Spain the Christian (or socialist) country it is today. Otherwise, they failed to win the formerly Christian Middle East back to the fold because the Catholic Church was backward technologically and morally (no appeal to the Arabs to adopt democracy) and would remain backward to the present day. That way, westerners got to experience a Renaissance, an age of Enlightenment, an industrial revolution, a democracy revolution and a computer revolution...while the prisoners of the Middle East were still subject to religion as politics and "honor killings" and burkas and dictators who had 200 wives (raped the sisters of their subjects) while pretending that the recreation of Israel was worth destroying or not developing their own economies and promoting eternal war.

Would you say that an Alternate History question about "What if the Crusades succeeded" would elicit a negative, pessimistic response from yourself? Imagine fully developed economies and no suicide bombers in that area.

Anyway, Bush's Crusade is making him a lot of friends in the Middle East. Basically anyone who wants democracy is Bush's friend, whether they admit it or not. And that is going to be 95% of the people. Remember that Bush's father was well admired by the Sunni Arabs. The Crusades were about replacing one religious dictatorship with another. That was the main mistake of the Crusades. This is about replacing tyranny with democracy. People respect that.

So let's not write alternative history as if it is supposedly a truth that all historians would accept that Bush lost the USA any prestige in recent events.

Please think about what I said about Patton slapping the soldier and getting removed from power. That kind of stuff psyches fascists out. They can't believe their luck or they cannot believe their enemy would be so "weak" as to oppose their best leaders in at time of war...until they find out that their own people are calling them on real abuses of power. Then they realize, too late, that leftists are a potent weapon of democracies at war. They are our wonderful Trojan Horse that appears to be a gift to the enemy...but isn't.

All the best,

Allen

...at least, this time I answered it more or less right away - even if it was the second one!

I was just looking at your "predictions" again and I got very disturbed by how you went from a rational opening that admits that things could go right to showing yourself as one who seems to have let the Iraq War scar him deeply. You won't "let it go". You won't accept a historical reality without trying to use a religious belief (leftism) to try to color following events. At least, leftists "gave up" on the Soviet Union. You tried to say that Gorbachev ended communism despite Reagan's unnecessary bravado...but you knew that nobody would listen to that crap so you settled for making sporadic reports via the media that Russia was going to hell in a hand basket (and supposedly still is worse off now than before the collapse of communism - I have lived there and there is no comparison to the way life in Russia is today and the way it was even 4 years ago when I had to bring bottled water in my suitcase - now you can find a great, safe sushi restaurant on every corner in St. Petersburg).

Exciting - actually has nothing to do with what I said (I didn't even mention Russia or the Soviet Union), but exciting none-the-less. The Soviet Union fell, BTW, because Marxist economics basically just don't work in the long run - especially when they have other places to compare themselves to. In a very real sense, TV, movies and the VCR killed the Soviet Union.

Let's take your opening remarks. You say the "best scenario" is that the Iraq War spawns democracies in other countries and prevents San Diego from being nuked by March 2005. Guess what? Your "best scenario" came true.

That's incorrect.

Actually, I said "and we find out that had we not gone in there an Iraqi nuke would have taken out San Diego in two years." Not only haven't we "found out" that such an event was going to happen, but what we have found is that Saddam didn't have a nuke or other WMD to his name...

...well, maybe a few box cutters, but...

...so the "Best Scenario" (at least, your version of it) has already been proven to not be true!

Nukes were basically taken away from Libya in December 2003, after their oil spigot from Saddam was shut down and their benefactor was captured.

You mean, the nukes Libya never had? Those nukes? The non-existent nukes they "gave up" and got rewarded by us for doing so?" Somehow, Qaddafi getting to make political brownie-points for giving up something he didn't have doesn't qualify as a "benefit" to me.

Any historian would admit that this, from the point of view of another time line, saved a city or two somewhere (Tel Aviv at least). Why lie about that?

I'm not. Neither Iraq, Libya, nor any other terrorist group had/has nuclear weapons. If they had, somebody would have been nuked by now. Therefore we "saved" a city from something that didn't exist.

Meanwhile, North Korea, the only "rogue" nation that actually does have nuclear weapons - and is run by a flipping looney to bet - not only hasn't gotten rid of theirs, but is planning on testing them. That's right, the only nation/group that demonstrably does have WMD's is just as intact, sovereign - and insane - as it was in 2001.

What historians are you listening to? Why obfuscate? Why not just accept that sometimes a conservative President (think Lincoln,

Not a "conservative" - indeed, the whole Republican party back then was radical. Things, of course, change. The current flavor "conservative" Republicanism doesn't date any further back than the late 1960's, early 1970's

Eisenhower

You mean the man who invented the term "military-industrial complex" and used it in a derogatory way?

Reagan

The man who took credit for bringing down the Soviet Union when it had more to do with Levis than him?

does the right thing at the right moment that any good Democratic president would have done as well.

Because a) doing one right thing - by accident - in a sea of wrong things still comes out basically wrong and b) I see no evidence it was "the right thing" in the first place.

Why not just say that Al Gore would have done a "better job" about removing Saddam after 9-11 but things otherwise went the way they had to go.

Because Al Gore wouldn't have cared about Saddam - as he had nothing to do with 9-11 - and thus wouldn't have invaded to remove him. Invade Afghanistan, sure - possibly even faster than Bush (Democrats have to be more warlike than Republicans because otherwise Republicans will complain that they're not being warlike enough). But invading Iraq, heck no.

Mind, no one, Demo or Republican will invade Saudi Arabia, which is pretty much the actual source of most of the problem...

You really don't need to harp on the Iraq War to be a good liberal.

a) Not harping on it (one page on a thirty or forty mb website is only "harping" in the same sense that an incumbent winning an election by a whole 3% is a "mandate" - IOW, not at all) and b) not a "good liberal." My basic political belief, in fact, is that no government - of any flavor - can in the end do more good than harm. And I'd like to see the complete and total end of all government, religion, and any other group of more than a thousand people, worldwide, now and forever.

Like to: Not going to happen, though. And it would probably kill 4-5 billion people if it did too - which is a negative...

It was just something that had to happen, something that would not have been stopped. Bush would have been crushed in 2004 for not attacking. And the people who would vote against him for not attacking would be reasonable people. You certainly wouldn't vote for him for not attacking.

Ummm, the only reason anyone was "up" for attacking Iraq was because Bush kept pushing it. Who do you think kept putting out the "Saddam has WMDs!" messages? (never mind that he didn't) Who kept harping on "links" between Saddam and terrorists? (never mind that there weren't any) Who kept saying "we must attack Saddam now before he attacks us?" (never mind that he wasn't planning such - and couldn't anyway)

Right the first time: G. Bush and his neo-conservative friends (Backers? Puppetmasters? Cabal?). If Bush doesn't push this "we must attack Saddam" message, no one's going to vote against him for not doing it, because it's something they'll never know "needs" to be done in the first place...

...especially since it didn't.

Personally, I wouldn't vote for him because he's a narrow-minded, slightly dim, fundy stooge who thinks "freedom" means "freedom as long as you all think just like me" - but that's just my opinion.

Also, your opening line says the "best case scenario" would be that democracy would happen and start spreading. Well...what about Lebanon...do you think that just because a new Lebanese leader admits to having been against the Iraq War (when it began)...that this means that he was not motivated like the others to kick the Syrians out by the Iraq War

Yes I do. He was motivated to kick the Syrians out because most of Lebanon hates having the Syrians there.

and the pressure from the USA and France for Syria to give the Lebanese freedom?Haven't you seen the quotes by Lebanese leaders that they have the Iraqi democracy to thank for their new democracy? Your Time Line doesn't see those remarks.Your Alternate Timeline has Saddam still in power and the Syrians still in Lebanon.

Conversely, in my ATL, the Lebanese might well be busy kicking out the Syrians right now (under "pressure" from the U.S. - who is, after all, Democrat or Republican, not a fan of Syria) and this inspires the Iraqi people to kick Saddam out. Just as likely.

This assumes of course - in both timelines - that Lebanon doesn't collapse into civil war again.

It is fine to be a leftist as long as you don't blindly follow every tenet of leftism like it is a religion. Please recognize, from your own criteria about the spreading of democracy and the capture of nuclear materials, that you were wrong in being so pessimistic.

I haven't seem democracy spreading all that much. Iraq is a "democracy" only as long as U.S. troops are on the ground there. That may change (heck, my timeline even says "it actually proves to be quite stable - in a Third-World sorta way"), but it isn't a real democracy yet. Afghanistan - same. Lebanon did this all on their own, no help from us - and even that's only if it's actually managed to do it. That's pretty much it for your "spread."

As far as nuclear materials goes, we haven't captured so much as a radium watch dial - or haven't you read the U.S.'s own WMD Inspectors reports? Heck, all we've done so far is prove to the world is that the best way to not get invaded by the U.S. is to have a nuclear weapon. Don't believe me?
  • Afghanistan - no nuclear materials - U.S. invades.
  • Iraq - no nuclear materials - U.S. invades.
  • North Korea - has actual nuclear bombs - U.S. doesn't invade, just basically threatens to talk harder at them.
Any questions? Because the rest of the world doesn't have any...

Recognize that, if you continue to be blind on this matter, that a revolution in Iran will FINALLY convince you that you were, in fact, wrong to be so partisan and pessimistic. Not to mention unprofessional as a historian.

If Iran has another revolution - which actually has been quite likely for the last decade or so - it won't bring a U.S.-friendly government into power.

June 28th, 2005: And, surprise, surprise, in the recent Iranian election, the voters chose the conservative (by Iranians standards) candidate instead of the reformers (see this article at History News Network). Mr. Ahmadinejad takes a nice hard line position against the U.S., feels that religious duties are more important than civil rights, and in general feels democracy and Islam don't mix. If this had been with the rest of my original predictions instead of just one of my later comments, I'd call this one a "hit..."

Heck, Iran's starting up their nuclear program again - you think it's because they want a U.S. invasion, or because they think it'll prevent a U.S. invasion?

Don't let a revolution in Iran cause you to push the field posts even further like you did about Iraq.

Haven't moved a goal-post yet - unlike certain presidents who said "we're invading to stop Saddam's WMD's...er...did I say stop WMD's? I meant promote Iraqi freedom. Yeah, that's it, Iraqi freedom." Heck, even marked several of my economy predictions as clear misses.

Your comments about the Iraq War show that you continually pushed the goalposts. First you didn't think that democracy would happen.

Hello? Did you actually read my timeline? I stated that there would be a democracy in Iraq, if "in a Third-World sorta way."

Now its a matter of "well he got the democracy part right but destroyed America's prestige in the process."

Always part of the timeline that the war's negative effects would outweigh the positive ones - though I never even mentioned the word "prestige."

Let me take your final comment: that Bush helps enemy propaganda.

If your enemy spends years saying "look, the U.S. only wants to invade us and set up puppet governments to rule us" and then the U.S. goes and actually does invade and set up a "puppet" government (at least, by Islamic fundy standards) then, yes, Bush has helped enemy propaganda big time, because "See, we told you so" is great propaganda.

Mind, if he invaded a country that actually had sometime to do with 9-11 and fundy terrorists then it would have only been a mild hit - after all, invading Afghanistan caused very little "loss of prestige" (to use your term) and even Al-Qaeda had trouble claiming that the people who attacked the U.S. weren't there.

But when you invade another country who had nothing to do with 9-11 and whose only apparent connection (from an Islamic fundy's viewpoint - heck, it's the rest of the world's viewpoint too) with this event is that it also happens to be an Islamic country, well, you screw yourself over propaganda-wise big time.

January 8th, 2007: I'll call this one a "hit" too...as even the Pentagon (but not Bush) has accepted:

US admits the war for hearts and minds in Iraq is now lost Pentagon

Sunday Herald, The, Dec 26, 2004 by Neil Mackay Investigations Editor

THE Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the "self-serving hypocrisy" of George W Bush's administration over the Middle East.

The mea culpa is contained in a shockingly frank "strategic communications" report, written this autumn by the Defence Science Board for Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld.

On "the war of ideas or the struggle for hearts and minds", the report says, "American efforts have not only failed, they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended".

"American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of, and support for, radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single digits in some Arab societies."

Referring to the repeated mantra from the White House that those who oppose the US in the Middle East "hate our freedoms", the report says: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedoms', but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favour of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support, for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.

"Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self- serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that 'freedom is the future of the Middle East' is seen as patronising ? in the eyes of Muslims, the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering.

US actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self- determination."

The way America has handled itself since September 11 has played straight into the hands of al-Qaeda, the report adds. "American actions have elevated the authority of the jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims." The result is that al-Qaeda has gone from being a marginal movement to having support across the entire Muslim world.

"Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic, " the report goes on, adding that to the Arab world the war is "no more than an extension of American domestic politics".

The US has zero credibility among Muslims which means that "whatever Americans do and say only serves ? the enemy".

The report says that the US is now engaged in a "global and generational struggle of ideas" which it is rapidly losing. In order to reverse the trend, the US must make "strategic communication" - which includes the dissemination of propaganda and the running of military psychological operations - an integral part of national security. The document says that "Presidential leadership" is needed in this "ideas war" and warns against "arrogance, opportunism and double standards".

"We face a war on terrorism, " the report says, "intensified conflict with Islam, and insurgency in Iraq. Worldwide anger and discontent are directed at America's tarnished credibility and ways the US pursues its goals. There is a consensus that America's power to persuade is in a state of crisis." More than 90per cent of the populations of some Muslims countries, such as Saudi Arabia, are opposed to US policies.

"The war has increased mistrust of America in Europe, " the report adds, "weakened support for the war on terrorism and undermined US credibility worldwide." This, in turn, poses an increased threat to US national security.

America's "image problem", the report authors suggest, is "linked to perceptions of the US as arrogant, hypocritical and self- indulgent". The White House "has paid little attention" to the problems.

The report calls for a huge boost in spending on propaganda efforts as war policies "will not succeed unless they are communicated to global domestic audiences in ways that are credible".

American rhetoric which equates the war on terror as a cold-war- style battle against "totalitarian evil" is also slapped down by the report.

Muslims see what is happening as a "history-shaking movement of Islamic restoration ? a renewal of the Muslim world ?(which) has taken form through many variant movements, both moderate and militant, with many millions of adherents - of which radical fighters are only a small part".

Rather than supporting tyranny, most Muslim want to overthrow tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia. "The US finds itself in the strategically awkward - and potentially dangerous - situation of being the long-standing prop and alliance partner of these authoritarian regimes. Without the US, these regimes could not survive, " the report says.

"Thus the US has strongly taken sides in a desperate struggle ? US policies and actions are increasingly seen by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as a threat to the survival of Islam itself ? Americans have inserted themselves into this intra-Islamic struggle in ways that have made us an enemy to most Muslims.


Gee, just what I said would happen back in 2003. What a surprise...


They accepted that the Vietnam was was "wrong" and "we lost."

It was - though we didn't.

This isn't going to happen this time.

Yes it is.

Now let's look at how you might have your own timeline as opposed to my time line for actual history. You can agree that written history started about 6,000 years ago. One of the first recorded civilizations was the City of Mari in Syria about 5,000 years ago. Cuneiform records show that the leaders of this city failed to preemptively attack an army of threatening looking poor people who surrounded the city one summer but produced no weapons and attacked no caravans. The leaders kept telling the police to be nice to the poor people even though they seemed to be casing the joint and there were rumors that they were preparing "weapons of mass destruction". Over the final tablets that show the leaders being like John Kerry (I know war and I don't like it)...are the ashes of the city itself mixed with the crushed skulls of the adult males. The enemy had developed special fire balls that were shot from catapaults into the city. Ever hear that story? Probably not. It is a historical lesson in favor of preemptive war.

That's a lovely "just-so" story - which makes me suspicious of it. From what I can see (admittedly, by a quick Google), Mari was captured by Hammurabi, which does not jibe with your above description of events.

But I did study some and found they never explained why Greek democracy failed so rapidly (after only a few centuries).

It fell because, like everything else, countries die. Oh, and because the Greek city-states just loved starting "preemptive wars" on each other...

Wasn't Greek democracy supposed to last forever??

Probably some of the Athenians at the time thought so. The Third Reich was supposed to last a thousand years too. So?

Nothing lasts forever, though. And, to be honest, Greek "democracy" was about as democratic as, say, Afghanistan under the Taliban. I mean, it was fine if you were not a slave...and not a woman...and not poor...but...

What does the fall of Greek democracy say about how we should behave in the modern world?

It says that democracy should not be limited to just free rich white men (like Bush and his supporters).

It says to me that someone like Philip of Greece can overrun us and end it all.

Certainly. See "Everything dies" above. Terrorists - or indeed, the entire Islamic world - however are not Philip of Greece. Or his son, Alexander. BTW, note that when he died, the "overrun" lands went right back to being independent realms again...well, until the Romans popped by...

Hitler and Stalin proved that democracies can be overrun and occupied for generations. It is only the US Marines and US Army, Navy and Air Force that have kept the miraculous trend of democracies overthrowing dictatorships and not the other way around.

Ummm, yeah. Right...

As a leftist, would you like to see the trend reversed?

a) Not a leftist and b) the trend is being reversed right here in the U.S., what with fewer freedoms and less tolerance every day.

The Old Testament says that, whenever society turned away from conservatism,they got attacked and defeated big time by enemies. This tells me that the old Israel (Judeah lasted longer) made the mistake the new Israel isn't going to make:which is to stop being vigilant with a well-prepared military that isn't afraid to start a war when they know the enemy wants a war

The Old Testament says lots of...interesting things. It also has two ways of dealing with events that happen to the people of Israel:
  • Israel prospers - It is because God Is On Our Side
  • Israel suffers - It is because We Have Somehow Offended God
Israel was right on the only real path between empires that wanted to fight one-another. Israel "got attacked and defeated big time by enemies" because those enemies were going to move through there to get to the real war in Egypt or Babylon or wherever (depending on which way the army was going and whose it was at the time) and no little fourth-rate bunch of jumped-up goat herders with delusions of nation-hood were going to stop them.

And, surprise, surprise, they didn't.

But because their beliefs required them to be "The Chosen of God," the only answer they could come up with as to why they lost is that they must of somehow abandoned (or started) something that offended God, so he let them lose. So, if they only went back to the "old ways" and followed them more determinedly, God would let them win again. American Indians tried something like this with the "Ghost Dance" movement - "if we go back to follow the old ways strongly enough, we will push the white men back into the sea." Guess what? They lost too.

"Conservatism" of the "good enough for Grandpa" bent only works if a) you got everthing right the first time and, b) things don't ever change. Unfortunately, in the real world, you don't and things do...

By the way, the technicality of who fired first in the Iraq War is also meaningless historically. The majority of Americans believe that 9-11 was the first shot in a war that had to include toppling Saddam as part of the program of democratizing the enemy now or nuking them later.

Well, the "majority of Americans" didn't believe that until after Bush's PR campaign - and that the "majority of Americans" believes something doesn't really matter if what the "majority of Americans" believes is bullshit. After all, the "majority of Americans" believes that Angels fly down to help them, that UFO's abduct farm-boys from their pickups (after mutilating a nice cow or two), that there is a God - and that prayer is effective. Heck, not just every American, but every person on the face of the Earth believes (with a depth and fervor that would make the average ascetic monk feel ashamed of his poor efforts) that if they just push the button repeatedly, the elevator will come faster.

And you know what, that's not true either...

Besides, you really shouldn't bring up what "the majority of Americans believe" because, at the moment and according to the latest (6/8/2005) polls, what "the majority of Americans believe" is that the war in Iraq didn't make America any safer and that it wasn't worth it. Same as me - though I believed it first (because I actually thought about it).

Other history sources say that the Babylonian Empire that sacked Jerusalem 700 years IIRC BC was actually a great liberal superpower that felt it had to tame the arrogant little rogue nation of Judea. I wonder who was right or wrong back then.

[sarcasm]Probably Babylon was right. After all, it'd dangerous to have a bunch of religious fundamentalists who feel you worship "satan" and are more than willing to attack you (and building up their armies too!) right next door to you. I mean, if that doesn't call out for a "preemptive war" I don't know what does...[/sarcasm]

I wonder what the politics of "right" and "left" were back then.

So completely divorced from what we consider "left" and "right" that making comparisons between then and now is, at best, futile. Perhaps this explains why your teachers didn't try to pointlessly map those terms onto your history lessons...

Moving on to Rome. The Roman Republic was destroyed, according to the director of Star Wars, by the Senate voting for their rights to be removed. Is that true? If so, then this event in history speaks for liberalism.

No, this speaks to what you can do if your "Republic" (again, only run by rich, land-owning men - slaves, women and poor-people need not apply) builds up really big armies that smart commanders can make loyal to themselves rather than the government.

So you have a tie score: anti-military liberalism destroyed Greek democracy and conservatism destroyed the Roman Republic?

Again, mapping those terms onto far distant lands and times is meaningless - so meaningless you could map them either way fairly easily. And what destroyed them both were whacking big armies.

Moving on to the Crusades...if they had happened 300 years earlier, there would be no Islam today.

Probably. Doesn't mean something just as bad wouldn't pop-up. Religions are pernicious things...

The "Christians" flanked a Muslim advance into France and probably made Spain the Christian (or socialist) country it is today.

Islam didn't have a chance to take France - it was too busy fighting amongst itself by then. The Franks big win against the Muslims was more than a little bit of PR-puffery. Some things, you see, haven't changed...

Would you say that an Alternate History question about "What if the Crusades succeeded" would elicit a negative, pessimistic response from yourself?

Doesn't have to, but, yes. I could easily do it.

A successful Crusade means that Europeans don't have to "Go West to Go East."

The Islamic hold on trade with the Far East (and all the lovely money to be made from spices and silks) meant that Europeans had to find a way there that didn't go through the Middle East - at least, if they didn't want all their gold to end up in Istanbul and Bagdad. That need led to the Portuguese expeditions down the coast of Africa - which ended up discovering South America - and Columbus's journey west across the Atlantic - which discovered North America. If you've got a successful Crusade, no one in Europe needs bypass "their" Middle East and, heck, now they're making all the money off the spice trade.

So the Americas remain undiscovered by them for at least another century or two. And since it's probably discovered by fisherman in that upper north-east corner, colonization and exploration go quite a bit slower for years. The (stolen) gold from there is not available to increase the amount of currency. There's no need to research better ships and navigational methods - in Portugal, "Henry" is not nicknamed "the Navigator". So, economic advancement - and the entire industrial revolution - is delayed and severely muted for centuries.

With less money - and less industry - the power of the average person in Europe is far below what it would be at the same period on OTL. Thus, things like the Reformation, the whole idea of "rights" and all the various advances in government that happened over those years on OTL don't happen there. Comes that timeline's 21st century and Europe resembles OTL's early 19th century in technology - and OTL's early 19th century Russia in terms of rights, freedoms and political power for individuals. Slavery still exists over most of the world - and "abolition" is just something a few religious splinter groups talk about...when they aren't being hounded off their land/out of the country/to death by the local state religion.

Meanwhile, in the Americas (which were eventually discovered), the last Indians are being killed and/or enslaved by peoples who make the average "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" 19th-century American look like a paeon of civil rights and ethnic tolerance.

Pessimistic enough for you?

Imagine fully developed economies and no suicide bombers in that area.

It'd be nice. Won't come about by shooting them, though. Certainly won't be brought about by religious fundamentalist neo-conservatives either...

So let's not write alternative history as if it is supposedly a truth that all historians would accept that Bush lost the USA any prestige in recent events.

I don't - I write that it's probably a truth that the war has made things, on the whole, worse for America. And from what I've seen so far, I'm still probably right.