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"Escalation Dominance", Part II to the McCain Moment by Steve Payne

Author says: in this installment from the continuing "McBush" thread on the Today in Alternate History website, we ask - what if President McCain foolishly took the bait offered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).


February 19th, 2010: just twenty-four hours after Secretary of Defence Robert Gates resigned in protest at the political decision to bomb sixteen suspected nuclear sites in Iran, the US Air Force launched the first waves of airstrikes at Natanz, Arak and Bushehr. Over a thousand strike sorties would be flown during the next week, with precision guided bunker busting bombs dropped from aircraft launched from a number of military bases in the Middle East, including Israel.

The outcome was the inevitable result of four decades of confused American foreign policy, starting with the decision to give the Shah of Iran nuclear technology in the nineteen seventies. After the revolution, diplomacy ceased. And a moment of opportunity to drive a "grand bargain" with Iran passed up after September 11th. US hopes of the Presidental election of the moderate Akbar Rafsanjani (who was promising to curb the powers of the mullahs) were swept away with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Also missed was the historic opportunity of America choosing the sound judgement of a calm individual with a middle name of "Hussein".

"Could we do it? Sure. Could we manage the aftermath? I doubt it." ~ Anonymous Source, DoD

And perhaps a skilled crisis manager such as John Kennedy would have had the genius to avoid the impending confrontation with Iran. But in Bush, and his successor McCain, America had two boneheaded "deciders" that were very easily baited by Ahmadinejad, who certainly held the stronger hand of cards. Because in policy-wonk terms, the Iranian leadership had "escalation dominance", and it was even suspected, were inviting an attack to focus domestic opinion on the external threat of the "Great Satan" rather than the deteriorating state of the economy.

Nonetheless McCain was correct in his judgement that the National Intelligence Estimate rightly acknowledged the possible existence of a Persian Bomb. But he was quite wrong to believe that the bombings had postponed the Iranian capability until 2015. At 2.30pm EST, the threat level of the Homeland Security Advisory System was suddenly escalated to "severe threat".

As the President and his advisors hurried to an underground basement, a huge explosion obliterated the White House. Silence was followed by the unmistakeable sound of screaming from below the rubble. Not so John McCain, an unbreakably tough individual that had seen it all. Instead, he yelled. And yelled. And yelled.

Author says, original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's genius Sanger, David E.. "The Inheritance: The World Obama confronts and the challenges to American Power" (2009)

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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