There’s a famous scene in Kurt Vonnegut’s book Slaughterhouse Five, in which the author plays World War II history in reverse. In a way, it seems to make more sense:
American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation. The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.
What would happen if you imagined the Iraq War, the rise of ISIS, and the recent broader regional tumult, in reverse?
An ISIS fighter grasped the arm of a Yazidi woman. The pair took a step backward, and then another, never stumbling. Without looking where he was taking her, the ISIS soldier guided the Yazidi woman toward a truck; on the way, they were joined by other Yazidi women, who all walked backward as well. It was 2016, and the women were being held as slaves in northern Iraq in the midst of a horrific civil war. But ISIS was liberating them and healing the country.