As everyone else in the world has already observed, New York Magazine
the question. I like Bernard-Henri Lévy's answer the best.
If 9/11 had not happened? America would be swimming in happiness. Kerry would be president. We would get to airports at the last minute, and the paranoia proportion would be lower. Iran’s voice would be less important. Daniel Pearl would still be alive. Francis Fukuyama would have beaten Samuel Huntington, who would be seen almost everywhere for the crypto-fascist that he is. History would be over. The week would have seven Sundays. Writers would be writing novels; philosophers, philosophy. Wall Street would be touching the sky. Gas would be $20 a barrel. Castro would still be the devil. Oliver Stone would have made a movie about a still-reigning Saddam Hussein. The superrich would be cooler, and more concerned with poverty in poor countries. I would have written my second volume on “forgotten wars.” I wouldn’t have had to shorten my vacation in Saint Paul de Vence to do a story about Israel at war. Palestinians would have a state. Moderate Muslims would control the Islamic extremists. America would be less religious (God help us!), France less anti-American (“these Yankee bastards are fighting back too hard, endangering world peace”). But it’s all a contradiction in terms. Because 9/11 did happen.