WE’D HAVE PEACE, TRIVIA, AND FOREBODING
editor, Newsweek International
The week before 9/11, the biggest news story in America—getting wall-to-wall coverage—was Chandra Levy. (Remember her?) So we can easily imagine what a world without 9/11 would look like. Peace, prosperity, and trivia. George Bush would probably not have been reelected (his poll numbers were sinking by September 2001, even among conservatives). But even if he were in office, it would be a different presidency, focused on his domestic interests, such as faith-based initiatives and education reform. Congress would be wasting the people’s money (some things never change). Issues like gay marriage and Terri Schiavo would dominate the public spotlight. The best-selling book would not be on Iraq but about getting rich by investing in waterfront real estate (the sure sign of a market peak). But, to prick this fantasy, Afghanistan would still be run by the Taliban, and Al Qaeda would be happily ensconced there. Wahhabi clerics would still be fomenting hatred of the West. Saudi millionaires would still be funding madrassas and militants. And there would still be jihadis plotting a terrorist attack on the United States. History would have been delayed, not denied.