Monday, November 08, 2004

Terrorism? Blame Alexander

Alexander the Great never conquered the Arabian Peninsula. He died of illness in 323 BC before he had gotten around to executing a campaign against Arabia.
But suppose he had lived a little longer, enough to invade and, in all likelihood, conquer Arabia? Let's do a quick alternate-history inventory of the possible long-term consequences:
  • An at least partially Hellenized Arabia brought into the orbit of the Mediterranean world
  • Arabia as a province of Egypt or another Alexandrian sub-state after Alexander's death
  • Roman control of, or influence over, Arabia as part of the Empire or a pacified ally
  • The introduction of Christianity into Arabia through the Roman Empire, filling the monotheistic vacuum among the Bedouins
  • No rise of Islam
  • No clash between Christian and Islamic civilizations
  • No 21st century Islamic grievances, or Islamist terrorism.
I admit that this is a stretch, but that's the fun of alternate history. Of course, I haven't sketched all the possible consequences of this change -- there's also a plausible "no Islam = no preservation of Greco-Roman learning = no European Renaissance" chain of reasoning that should discourage those of you with time machines from acting precipitously.

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