Here, from the Times of London’s Gerard Baker, a “what if” scenario to commemorate the third anniversary of the Iraq War:
In March 2003 Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, of the UN, secured a remarkable, last-minute deal that averted war and seemed to guarantee the disarmament of Iraq. “Saddam Hussein has finally consented to eliminate all his weapons of mass destruction,” they said, in a signing ceremony with the Iraqi leader.
Saddam, flanked by his two sons, Uday and Qusay, accepted the plaudits of the UN with pomp and grace. Beaming as he smiled at a hastily assembled crowd of French, German and Russian children, he said he had saved the world from the bloodlust of George Bush and Tony Blair with a magnanimous gesture of international friendship. There were approving murmurs of support in many Western capitals. In Oslo there was talk of a Nobel Peace prize.
The last sentence I quoted gives away Baker’s bias. Read the whole thing to see how it plays out. Baker believes that, as catastrophic as the war has proven to be, a far worse outcome has been averted, at least for now. I tend to agree. If you’re like most of my friends and family, most of you strongly disagree. But Baker’s looking at the war the way we all should, as a fork in the road leading to two very different futures. If the players three years ago had chosen a different course, where would the Islamist war stand? What would be happening in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia? Have we averted a more dangerous future, or created one?
If you want to answer this question, all I ask is: Be thoughtful, and be specific. Use your imagination. Follow the falling dominoes. Where do they lead?