Was the current conflict between the West and militant Islamic extremists inevitable?

I have read in other speculative alternate history threads that the larger picture is not really driven by specific events. Things like WWII would have still happened without Hitler, WWI without Ferdinand’s assassination, etc. This thread is about two what ifs.

  1. Clinton manages to kill or capture bin Laden in the 1990s.
  2. Al Gore wins the 2000 USA presidential election.

I think both of those events are things that could have reasonably occurred in an alternate timeline. Here are my assumptions of what would have happened after the above two things occurring in the alternate timeline.

  1. My first assumption is that if the above two things had happened that 9/11 would not have occurred.
  2. With Gore as president the USA would not have gone to war in Iraq.
  3. Gore and subsequent American presidents and Western leaders in general would have not have had a good reason to be messing around with the internal politics of Middle Eastern countries and the wider world of Islamic countries (North Africa and Pakistan).
  4. As a result Al Qaeda gradually dies off since young people growing up in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan grow up without the West interfering in the affairs of their countries, and therefore do not have a reason to hate Western countries.
  5. Iran would still be Iran, but without all the other stuff going on they could gradually be brought back in to the full international community or continued to be isolated by sanctions if need be. Either way, it would be just Iran rather than all the other hot spots we currently have.

Help me with where I may have gone wrong. The first possible error is in the question itself. Maybe there really isn’t a conflict between the West and radical militant Islamic terrorists? If this is your belief, I would like to hear your reasoning for that belief.

Maybe things were going on in the Middle East and North Africa that would still have led to the rise of ISIS and all the other groups even without all the Bush year interventions. Maybe Gore and subsequent presidents would have still meddled in the Middle East even without the excuse of 9/11. This is the question I’m most interested in. Was the status of the Middle East around 2000 such that radical militant Islam would have arisen even without the mess that Bush caused?

My opinion is that had the above two things happened, the world would definitely be more peaceful, and that groups like ISIS and the radical Islamist terrorism that we have today would be in the process of dying down rather than gaining strength. What do you all think?

It was going to happen. Period. The civilizations of The West and of Islam are incompatible. You cannot hold the the beliefs of both. One has to give. The West is based on inclusion, and to that end it is very flexible. But it still has its limits.

Here’s a thought experiment. Make believe the world never had or heard of Islam. And we then come in contact with people, very much like us, from Planet X. The people seem nice, a lot like us. They have cities and art and a strong culture, etc. We are happy to meet them and we learn more about each other. As we do, we learn that they hold women as second class citizens, kill anyone who is suspected of being gay, mutilated their daughters at 10 years old so they cannot experience sexual pleasure, and have different sets of laws for males and females, which include death by stoning of a woman who has an affair and the allowance to kill women—wives, sisters, daughters—who the men in the family feel have dishonored the family.

So, how do you feel about inviting these inhabitants of Planet X to live with us? Should we embrace them, even of they insist in living according to their own laws?

The sober answer is a resounding “No.”

The degree to which many Muslims here on earth practice their religion is directly incompatible with out own culture. Many of their important values are diametrically opposed to our own. While Islam was practiced ion Planet X, or the remote other-worldly place called the Middle East, we could both go on with our lives. But that is no longer the case. The class of civilizations is here. People need to take sides. We cannot abandon our values. And if extreme Muslim militants insist on infecting western civilization with aspects of Sharia law that are at odds with it, we simply need to tell them no. If they want to temper their beliefs, fine. We have room for that. If they don’t, and insist on imposing their barbarism on us, well, then, they are the enemy of civilization as we know it.

So, regardless who was elected in 2000 or whether OBL was captures, the clash of civilizations that is beginning was inevitable.

I don’t really see a broad conflict with Islam as a religion. I do think that a conflict exists with a small group of radical Islamic terrorists. This is why I focused my question on the 9/11 event not happening. As far as I can tell, the relationship between the West and the countries of the Middle East, North Africa, and southwest Asia was slowly improving in 2001. Then the USA overreacted to the events of 9/11 by invading Iraq and by not working to rebuild Afghanistan after that (IMHO correct) invasion. Wasn’t most of the world, even the Islamic world, standing with us just after 9/11? Then Bush messed things up, and Obama has failed to clean up the mess, leading to our current situation. At least this is what it seems like to me.

Yes, it, or something similar, was going to happen.

But not for this reason, which is hogwash. The civilizations of the West and Islam get along perfectly well in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and even India and Pakistan.

The reason that a terror war was inevitable is simply due to technology. It’s possible to happen. It might have been Christianist white supremacists. For decades it was Christians against each other in Northern Ireland.

It’s a sad fact of how our civilization is built: five radicals can kill 50 people. That’s because we like to get together in groups to watch sports, movies, or music. It’s because guns exist and pipe-bombs are easy to build. It’s because we respect the freedom to go where we want and buy things without being registered and talk to each other without being monitored.

So long as there are psychopathic extremists with grievances, we will have terror.

Are countries decisively east of the “Middle East” rightfully considered part of the “West?”

Do those eastern nations, culturally and historically, represent the values of the West such that they can be conflated into the alleged clash of civilizations?

When I think of the West, I think of Europe and the Americas. The Judeo-Christian secular world whose values stand at direct odds with the much-more theocratic, repressive Islamic world.

I’m not sure how many Jews agree with the idea of a “Judeo-Christian” world.

The problems all started because the West decided to militarily intervene in the Middle East. Why are you starting with Clinton and Gore? Why aren’t you starting with Eisenhower who decided to help overthrow the democratically elected government in Iran? (and of course the British and French militarily intervened a lot longer ago).

All it would take is for the West to militarily disengage from the Middle East for the Western problems with the Middle East to disappear: those militant factions already have lots of local enemies for them to go to war with.

Fuck Eisenhower. Why not start with WWI or prior. That’s when those of us from the ME would start.

Why? Because many of them left the Judeo-Christian West and built a first-world nation in a desert in a matter of a few decades built off the Judeo-Christian values they imported?

When I think of the West, it’s not really Christianity that I think about, its a combination of social freedoms, economic prosperity for the population in general, and representative government. I would include Japan and South Korea as part of the West.

I did think about this, which is why I specifically excluded Iran from the arguments I was making. As for why I started with Clinton, I think it’s because at my age (38 years old), I see see a period from the end of the first Iraq war until the beginning of the second Iraq war that the West was not really messing with any of these countries in a way that I would call interventionist. Had that second war not happened, we would be at 25 years of the West not messing with the Middle East. If I’m wrong and Clinton was messing with the Middle East, I would love to know exactly what this involved. No, the no fly zone over Iraq doesn’t count.

Because there are a lot of other places the West was involved in with imperialism, and those places don’t have the same problems today. These include South Africa, Grenada, Vietnam, Panama, and South Korea just to name a few.

No, because I’m not sure how many Jews believe in the idea of a “Judeo-Christian” culture.

I somehow doubt too many Christians believe in Islamic-Christian culture.

The start of the current radial islam problem was the West allowing the regime of Khomenei to take power in Iran. Afghanistan had a Western-oriented culture in the 1970s-women wore Western dress, the government was secular. All of this ended when the Khomenei regime came in. The Shah was a despot, but under him, Iran was being westernized. The whole tragedy of the ME started with his abdication.

Your knowledge of Afghan history has some serious holes in it, one of which is this one.. Not to mention that all* of the Islamic terrorism we experience in Western countries is from Sunni Muslims, not Shi’a. That is not to say that the Iranians haven’t messed some things up in the region, but the folks flying airplanes into buildings and shooting up nightclubs have nothing to do with Iran.

*This could possibly be off by 1%.

Nice attempt in trying to make the problem generic “terror”. Actually, no, your attempt is ridiculous. Aside from skirting the topic in the OP, trying to equate the broad war of terror being waged around the globe by Islamic extremists to the Ireland strain is absurd times a billion. And terror doesn’t happen because we respect freedom and and like sporting events, it happens because there are barbarian assholes in our midsts, who feel compelled by their religion to kill innocent people. It’s because their religion is actually just a fucked up, murderous, backwards philosophy with a holy book they can point to. As I said upthread, if these people came from another planet and didn’t call their beliefs a religion we’d come them the fuck off our planet. The FACT is that the beliefs held by Islamic extremists, even those who do not work to kill people, is directly incompatible with what we call civilization. And the fact that there are Muslims whose more enlightened beliefs can work with The West is beside the point. Do we really need to point to the percentages and absolute number of Muslims who believe that killing non-Muslims is okay. Or killing gays is just fine. And that mutilating young girls is just dandy. And that their so-called honor killing is what the religion mandates.

Is Islam at the root of every murderous act of terror done in it’s name? Of course. The cries of Allah Akbar may give you a hint to that fact. Does it mean that the “religion” is wholly unable to mesh with civilization? I desperate to think that’s not the case. But it’s difficult. At what one point do so many rotten apples mean you just have to throw away the whole thing? The answer to that is in the hands of the civilized people who happen to be Muslims and realize that the more they take the Koran literally and think the beliefs mentions above are part and parcel to being a good Muslim, the more they deserve to be shot in the head with a bullet dipped in pigs blood.

If we’d just kept the lid on the powder keg indefinitely things would be fine? No, the hatred of the Shah was such that his regime was going to fall one way or another; and it’s not really fair to ignore what made it a powder keg in the first place.

The Arab world has taken a few hits from the west.
We supported dictators in the past and put in Puppets all too often in the M.E.
and then "w’ sez the Crusades word.
and the wars for Oil.
and 9/11 was blamed on the Muslims. when it was obviously an Inside job.


The UK & US backed coup that overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 is what put that powder keg in place.

Of course you can go back to the Crusades. The Western powers slicing up the Ottoman Empire after WW1 surely didn’t help.

But so much of the current mess is a direct result of Bush Jr’s invasion of Iraq. And how the country was “handled” thereafter.