[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
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SFWRITER.COM > Nonfiction > What if 9/11 Never Happened?

What if 9/11 Never Happened?

by Robert J. Sawyer

Written for Rosie Dimanno at the Toronto Star, September 1, 2006

Copyright © 2006 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.

The world would be a hugely different place if 9/11 hadn't occurred. There's little chance George Bush would have been re-elected — he went from being the guy who stole the presidency by chicanery to being a commander-in-chief who had to be blindly obeyed thanks to 9/11.

Without 9/11, Bush would have simply bumbled through the rest of his first and only term, and the US voters would have turfed him out at the first opportunity, which would have been the 2004 elections; by now, he'd be a quaint, embarrassing memory — another Gerald Ford, an ineffectual guy who ended up in the Oval Office in ways no one quite understood (What's that? We don't actually have to elect the president? Say what? We're going to stop counting the ballots?), and was quietly shown the door as quickly as possible.

But because of 9/11, we got Homeland Security and the loss of civil liberties, the ill-conceived war in Iraq, the resulting devastation of the US dollar on world markets, three-dollar-a-gallon gasoline, ineffectual airport security measures, and the curtailing of stem-cell research that ultimately might otherwise have saved millions of lives.

More: Bush's presidency in the States paved the way for a mini-Bush, in the person of Stephen Harper, in Canada. Now, yes, the Liberals probably had to take a fall after the sponsorship scandal, so a Conservative government here was probably inevitable for a short time, but the far-rightwingness of Harper would have been unpalatable to the Canadian people without Bush in the White House to make Harper look at least somewhat less whacko by comparison; Harper's secrecy — antithetical to the Canadian mindset — is only tolerated because at least he's not actively tapping our phone calls or seizing our library-borrowing records the way Bush is.

The United States is at war; it wouldn't have been if 9/11 hadn't occurred. Canada — and Britain — have leaders that are to the right of their own populations; we wouldn't still have them at this late date if there hadn't been 9/11. Our once-booming export economy is being hurt because the US dollar has fallen so much — almost to parity with the loonie; that wouldn't have happened without the Iraq war, which was a direct consequence of 9/11: somebody had to pay, and we couldn't find bin Laden.

The White House is in denial about global warming, and is sabotaging stem-cell research, and creationists are getting more and more powerful; all of that is possible because 9/11 let Bush — an apocalypticist who honestly doesn't believe we have to worry about the long term — be re-elected.

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