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"The McCain Moment Arrives" by Steve Payne

Author says: in this installment from the continuing "McBush" thread on the Today in Alternate History website, we ask - what if we had reached the "McCain Moment" already? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).


February 5th: on this day in 2010 US President John S. McCain was presented with a 140-page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). The report, which represented the consensual view of all sixteen American intelligence agencies, concluded with a "moderate level of confidence" that the Great Nation of Iran would be fully equipped with an operational "Persian Bomb" by the end of the year.

Despite his predecessor's State of the Union address stigmatising Iran within the "axis of evil", it was widely acknowledged that the nuclear technology had in fact originated from Pakistan, a putative ally in the "war on terror". But regardless of the fact that the late Prime Minister Benezir Bhutto had failed to prevent the Pakistani nuclear engineer A.Q. Khan shipping advanced weapons designs to Tehran, the reality was that the US now faced "the McCain moment". That phrase had been coined during the 2008 Presidential campaign when the then Senator said "There is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option. That is a nuclear-armed Iran".

"There is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option. That is a nuclear-armed Iran" ~ McCain

The possibility that a nuclear device, piggy-backed on a Shahab-4 missile would be used to "wipe the State of Israel off the map" was of course the worst case scenario. As far back as 2007, the option that Israel itself took pre-emptive action to destroy the Iranian nuclear technology had been taken off the table. In fact Washington analysts doubted that US, let alone Israel, could destroy all sixteen sites where research was being conducted. And then there was the "moderate" confidence level of the NIE itself, produced by the same agencies whose misintelligence had judged that Iraq had a WMD programme in 2003 based on the faulty logic that there was no contrary evidence to show the programme had stopped.

And the decision to proceed with a pre-emptive strike was now in the hands of McCain. A faulty decision-maker who had unwisely decided to continue with his bombing run of Hanoi, disregarding a warning tone that an enemy SAM battery had locked onto him.

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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