Wednesday, December 24, 2014

If I had a Time Machine

Nearly all time travel sagas seem to assert that the real timeline is less bad than the alternatives, so that even whacking Hitler in 1937 produces worse outcomes than WWII, genocide, and the rest.  Putting that aside, if we could go back in time, averting WWII would seem to be number one on most lists.  But would else would be in the top ten?  I ponder this as it is the 35th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which has begotten incredibly misery for nearly all involved:
  • USSR would have collapsed anyway, but perhaps slower and with less costs imposed upon the generation that fought the war;
  • the Afghans--paid a huge price during the Soviet invasion, during the civil war, under the Taliban and since 9/11
  • the US: 9/11 might have happened anyway, but maybe not.  Without the generaiton of a generation or two of jihadists, maybe Al Qaeda does not develop as far, as big, as ambitious....  Who is Bin Laden if there is no Soviet occupation?
  • Canada/Europe: ISAF was not fun for anyone.
The only actor that may have benefited from the Soviet invasoin might be the ISIS of Pakistan--as it empowered, forced the US to be dependent on Pakistan, and on and on.

so, what are the key decision points where I would direct a handy time machine?*  The assumption here is one can only change one thing.
* I am focusing only on 20th century and beyond, as we got really good at doing really bad stuff with industrialization AND moving too far back in time is likely to stress out the flux capacitor. 
  1. Pre-WWII, naturally.
  2. Pre-WWI--if I remember correctly, the toll there was higher.  Plus it set in motion the USSR.  Russia was in deep need of a revolution, but a Communist one?  Yuck.
  3. Vietnam off-ramp.  This would save a million lives or so in Vietnam, not to mention other places the US bombed.  And if it could avert the killing fields in Cambodia, yeah.
  4. Avoiding Afghanistan.
  5. Iraq 2003.
  6. I don't know enough about China's Cultural Revolution, but since everything is big in China, big bad repression is really big.  Probably should be higher up.  
  7. Six Day War: find a better ending so that it does not breed more and more conflict.
  8. Prevent the killing of MLK: not sure how things would have worked out, but I'd like to think things would have been better with him than without him.
  9. Provide Al Gore with better campaign advice....
  10. Keep coke out of the Met's clubhouse  in the mid 1980s.
Climate change and stuff like that is harder to dodge with a time machine.....  so that is my top eight or nine (the 10th is a joke).  What is your top ten?

No comments: