10 September 2007

A different alternate history on terrorism

I do like it when public figures put out books on alternate history and then venture forth to offer 'alternative timelines' on things. Really! It's fun!

Latest is Newt Gingrich offering *his* alternate history on 'the war on terror', as reported on by David Freddoso at NRO. One of the great joys in my SF reading has been alt-history from H. Beam Piper's Paratime works (especially Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, critical reading for alt-history buffs) and L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall to the more recent 1632 by Eric Flint and the Belisarius Series by David Drake and Eric Flint (starting with An Oblique Approach). It is one of the more robust genres in SF as it really doesn't need much in the way of actual science beyond a framework for the alternate history itself (Piper's is a multilayer universe and the Belisarius works are the 'artifacts through time travel' deal) which is glossy cover for the meat of the works, which is examining the social and societal forces moving human history. So when Newt Gingrich offers something up for right after 9/11 (which I dealt with in what should have been said directly after it with this post) I actually *do* know where he is coming from, just disagree with *when* the alt-history should start. I do believe that he chose an era when he was out of office so that he could do the compare/contrast bit, so that he wouldn't have to criticize himself or those that he admires greatly.

Because I am under no such restrictions, I would actually start a bit earlier than Mr. Gingrich. Back to a time when he was still new to office, but this is not a criticism of him, as such. No, I think the opening line of the speech by a President in this alternate history timeline will tell what needs to be said during what would, naturally, be a televised broadcast....

My fellow Americans, I come to you tonight to talk about the sorrow that has befallen our soldiers in Lebanon. As you know yesterday our mission to help stabilize the country of Lebanon, wracked by civil war, has resulted in the foul attack on our brave Marines there and an attack on our French Allies within seconds of it. Tonight we grieve for our lost sons and those of France, who had agreed to help us in bringing some order to the tiny Nation of Lebanon that had fallen into Civil War and was threatening the stability of the Middle East. I have been talking with Prime Minister Mitterand throughout the day and we are in agreement that this attack should not and cannot stand.

I have also consulted with General Secretary Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko and they both told me that that the Soviet Union had no part and wants no part of this attack, and they are as deeply disturbed by it as I am. They further offered us such Intelligence capabilities and information as is available there in order to help out Prime Minister Mitterand and myself to make determinations in this grave time that has befallen us. Our combined Intelligence operations, American, French, Soviet, and British, all point to a new organization that has done this. While those claiming this attack call it 'Islamic Jihad', our Intelligence points to the terrorist organization Hezbollah as the source of these attacks and the previous attack on our Embassy in Beirut. Further, the individual in charge of the direct operations is a man called Imad Mugniyah.

This organization and that man receive financial training and support from Iran and Syria, but their role in this is unclear. As you know the Iranian government has commited despicable acts upon our Embassy and staff in Tehran under my predecessor, and Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko both assure me that to the best of their knowledge, the Soviet Union had no role in that and they are likewise disturbed by that event. While we do have grave and deep differences with the Soviet Union on outlook for how to run our societies, between myself, Mitterand and Andropov with Chernenko, we are in common agreement that this horrific activity is a danger not just to those who lost soldiers or relatives, but is a danger to all Nations.

The Civil War that we had tried to quell for humanitarian purposes was stoked by these barbaric terrorists, who seek to put Lebanon under their sway and then to achieve dominance there to attack outwards. These are not soldiers, wearing uniforms and swearing allegiance to either Syria or Iran or even to Lebanon: they see themselves as the only law on Earth. The deaths before we landed the three of us are in complete agreement, belong to organizations like Hezbollah that have stoked the fires of hatred not to stand up a new Nation but to fulfill dreams of conquest there.

My fellow Americans, these are barbaric acts. I have also been in contact with Prime Minister Thatcher and we have held the first full talks between the World War II Allies on matters of war since the end of that conflict. We do have deep and abiding problems with the Soviet Union and how they act in opposition to us and their activities in Afghanistan. But we recognize that the nature of that is wholly different from this deadly and unwarranted act carried out by Hezbollah against us and France. As this terrorist organization has placed itself outside of the law, after deep and difficult talks with our old wartime Allies we agree that this organization is now a common outlaw of us and all civilized Nations.

Tonight we exercise, in concert and full agreement between us, that wherever any individual associated with Hezbollah is found, that they be brought in and tried as pirates under the law of nations. Our history as a Nation has been short but as one Nation amongst many, we abide by the deep concept of the law of nations, which calls those that do these acts by names we now consider fanciful. Our founders and other Nations before our founding had a different view and the names they gave described actions horrible to them.

As horrible as the unlawful slaughter of our servicemen by those not of any Nation are to us.

Because we, as a Nation, do agree with the law of nations, tonight I, Prime Minister Mitterand, Prime Minister Thatcher and Secretary General Andropov declare these actions to be outlaw by the law of nations and due all penalties associated with piracy. This is not piracy as we see in the movies, as I well know, but piracy that attacks Nations to destroy them. These barbaric acts are described as predatory or personal warfare and it is abhorrent to me as it is to you and all civilized peoples. Our Allies are in full agreement with me on this.

Tonight I, and our old wartime Allies, now allow for the summary finding of any member of Hezbollah by our armed forces to be that of pirates when found, so that we may rid ourselves of this scourge that has attacked us. I will be asking Congress for a war finding against Hezbollah, so that we may avenge ourselves on this enemy of mankind. Tomorrow, each of our Nations, France, Great Britain, Soviet Union and the United States, will take up these articles in their legislative bodies. I ask Congress to give me the power to bring this unlawful organization down along with any who support them. And to further amend the piracy statutes to cover unlawful warfare of all types.

My fellow Americans, I grieve and deeply with you this night, for our lost soldiers who were out to help end suffering in a far off land. They were murdered by those waging war on us. I will do everything in my power as Commander in Chief to go after these outlaws and put a stop to this once and for all. That is the duty handed me by the Constitution and I seek backing for it with Congress as this war may go more deeply than we can expect.

We did not ask for a war to be given to us.

I have been handed one and my duty is to fight for what is right for ourselves and all Nations. That is my job that I asked for and I will do it for you, for our honored dead and to ensure the justice of Nations is applied. I cannot refuse to have our Nation fight when it has been attacked in this foul manner, as well as the brave sons of France, murdered by these outlaws.

I thank you all for your time tonight on this grave matter of concern for all Americans.

May God Bless the United States in these troubled times.

I bid you good night.
There, now *that* is an alternate history for you.

We forget that the USSR sponsored those that put on uniforms, by and large, and were held accountable for their actions to an authority structure.

Unfortunately President Reagan did not give that speech, and so now we are where we are, and in much, much deeper danger with the spread of these predators across the globe. No President has given that speech or one like it.

And yet it is one that desperately needs to be given. Because when only one side shows up to fight a war there is only one description of the side that does not show up: defeated. We have been on *that* path far too long.

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