Niall Ferguson, the √ºber-historian, has one of those cute historian-of-the-future columns in the Telegraph/LAT. Kinda like what would your 40 year old self say to your 14 year old confused teenager, I suppose. So, in this back to the future column, the digitized Ferguson wonders whether it was the lack of balls of the “West” in 2006 that led to the Great Gulf War of 2007-2011 – including a nuclear exchange between Tel Aviv and Tehran. See, if the leaders and people of America and London [that's all that counts as "West"] had not demured to internal politics and pressure, they would have invaded Iran and, not caused the great war. Or something.
Since Ferguson loves contrafactuals here is my random one:
With the world firmly behind them after the atrocious attack of 2001 and the routing of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the American state started an historically unprecedented effort to erase radicalization and terrorism throughout the world. By denying multinational companies the rights to do business with despots, cutting off all political and economical aid and forcing a strict agenda of internal elections, the US was able to lead by example a wellspring of democratic freedom from Lebanon to Pakistan. Working with the international agencies, it sunk billions of dollars in building up apparatus of civic and legal frameworks in societies that had hitherto only seen despots.
The efforts, which seemed like liberal pipedreams in the first decade of the 21st century, started to bear fruit when the United Kingdoms of Arabia swore in their first constitutionally elected federal goverment in 2011. Iran’s efforts at market reforms and economic parity had already made them an important ally in the region with the hardline religious parties standing little chance unless they adapted the reform and integrate agendas. Or something.