Alternative History

Two columnists have gone ScrappleFace on us, offering satirical news reports of President Bush taking bold action against al Qaeda prior to 9/11.

Gregg Easterbrook:

On August 7, 2001, Bush had ordered the United States military to stage an all-out attack on alleged terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Thousands of U.S. special forces units parachuted into this neutral country, while air strikes targeted the Afghan government and its supporting military. Pentagon units seized abandoned Soviet air bases throughout Afghanistan, while establishing support bases in nearby nations such as Uzbekistan. Simultaneously, FBI agents throughout the United States staged raids in which dozens of men accused of terrorism were taken prisoner.

Reaction was swift and furious. Florida Senator Bob Graham said Bush had “brought shame to the United States with his paranoid delusions about so-called terror networks.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused the United States of “an inexcusable act of conquest in plain violation of international law.” White House chief counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke immediately resigned in protest of “a disgusting exercise in over-kill.”

When dozens of U.S. soldiers were slain in gun battles with fighters in the Afghan mountains, public opinion polls showed the nation overwhelmingly opposed to Bush’s action. Political leaders of both parties called on Bush to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan immediately. “We are supposed to believe that attacking people in caves in some place called Tora Bora is worth the life of even one single U.S. soldier?” former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey asked.

(Hat tip: Robert Prather)

Kathleen Parker:

Absent absolute proof of such an imminent attack, Bush’s Sept. 10 bombing of Afghanistan earned him international condemnation and, in all likelihood, an indictment in coming weeks. United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Kofi Annan, appearing last night on Larry King Live, said the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal likely would bring charges of genocide against the president.

Bush also faces federal charges at home for his baseless arrest of 19 foreign nationals, many of them native Saudis, whose “crime” was attending American flight schools. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a joint suit against both Bush and former Attorney General John Ashcroft, charging racial profiling, unlawful arrest, and illegal search and seizure.

Kerry’s campaign mantra – “You go to war because you have to, not because you want to” – clearly resonated with Americans as they tried to make sense of Bush’s September 10 attack on Afghanistan. Neither the president, nor National Security Adviser Dr. Condoleezza Rice convincingly defended their actions during the recent “9/10 Commission” hearings, which Congress ordered in response to public outcry.


Under questioning by the “9/10 Commission,” Clarke denied that his memo was anything more than a historical overview with a “set of ideas and a paper, mostly.”

(Hat tip: Dan Spencer)

FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Hal says:

    You guys are such a hoot!

  2. Kathleen’s was even better (I’d seen the other one, of course). Nice detail with Clarke defending his memo as “historical”!

  3. Paul says:

    grrrr They beat me to it.

    One less post on Wizbang!

  4. simpleton says:

    Clearly the response to warnings of al Qaeda infiltration of the homeland is to defend the homeland by at least trying to do something. Attacking Afghanistan as an appropriate, immediate response is, of course, a red herring — they are in this country NOW. But don’t tell the true believers.