T Nation

Has the War on Terror Been Effective

I came across this interesting post on Dan Drezner’s weblog, and I got to thinking about this topic. The first thing, before we start arguing about the answer to the title of the post, is what is the rubric? How should we try to measure whether the effect has been positive?

It seems to me that we have to measure where we are against the hypothetical world of where we would have been had we done nothing at all. But I am uncertain that we will be able to come to agreement on that – and especially on the basic question of: Are we safer now?

Anyway, here’s Drezner’s post, and he points to a recent survey that indicates bin Laden and al Queda are losing popularity among Muslims (imagine that, when they are targeting Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere).

http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/002178.html

Is the war against Al Qaeda generating results?

Bruce Jentleson kicks off his first post for America Abroad with a valid question:

http://americaabroad.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/7/13/151911/977

At Fort Bragg and after London, President Bush has stayed on message about the need to show resolve. Resolve in Iraq, resolve in the GWOT. But the issue can?t be just the will to stay the course — it also has to be whether the policies we are staying with are sound enough and solid enough to win in our arenas.

Just about everyone is questioning the policy on Iraq ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/08/AR2005070802303.html ). However, one of the key criticisms of the Iraq war is that it incubated a new generation of adherents to Al Qaeda. Is that really true? Are the Bush administration’s anti-terrorim policies “sound enough and solid enough to win in our arenas”?

Via Orin Kerr, I see the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey is up ( http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248 ), and there are some numbers that suggest the answer is (mostly) yes. It turns out that Osama bin Laden is losing the hearts and minds of Muslims. Susan Page summarizes in USA Today:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-07-14-suicide-attack-support_x.htm

[i]Support for suicide bombings has dropped significantly in several predominantly Muslim nations, a worldwide public-opinion survey has found ? a positive note at a time concerns have been heightened by terrorist attacks in London, Iraq and Israel.

The report by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, released Thursday, also found substantial concern about Islamic extremism not only among Westerners but also in Muslim nations. Three-quarters of those in Morocco and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia said Islamic extremism posed a threat to their countries. [/i]

Click here for more poll results: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248 . As Nick Gillespie put it in Hit & Run ( http://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/07/bin_laden_hopes.shtml#010189 ), “Bin Laden: Hopes for Re-Election as World’s Most Popular Asshole Dim.”

[Note: Follow the original link to see the charts]

The numbers offer support to both supporters and critics of the way the Bush administration has prosecuted the war of terror.

On the one hand, the numbers are trending in the right direction, and the comparison between the July 2002 numbers and July 2005 numbers in most countries suggests that Iraq hasn’t generated the greater sympathy for Al Qaeda and its aims that some Bush critics have predicted. It remains possible that the invasion of Iraq had a negative effect on Muslim attitudes, but these figures suggest that at a minimum this effect was dwarfed by more powerful counter-trends. Indeed, the trend suggests staying the course with the current set of anti-terrorism policies.

On the other hand, the numbers for Jordan are not trending in the desired direction at all. This could be due to Iraq, although if that was the case one would have expected a similar trend in Turkey and that hasn’t happened. Still, it should disturb policy analysts across the policy spectrum that the one Arab country simultaneously possessing a free trade agreement with the United States and a peace treaty with Israel has a population that is growing more comfortable with radical Islam.

BB

Strategypage.com has lot’s of metrics to measure the war.

Dunnigan is the best at coming up with these types of standards.

FYI- We are way ahead according to him and I agree.

Was it the State Dept or the CIA numbers that show that terrorist attacks have gone up several hundred percent since the Iraq war? That number did not include attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan.

[quote]Big Dave56 wrote:
Was it the State Dept or the CIA numbers that show that terrorist attacks have gone up several hundred percent since the Iraq war? That number did not include attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan.[/quote]

Please post a link.

The link to the site I referenced is:

strategypage.com

[quote]hedo wrote:
Big Dave56 wrote:
Was it the State Dept or the CIA numbers that show that terrorist attacks have gone up several hundred percent since the Iraq war? That number did not include attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Please post a link.

The link to the site I referenced is:

strategypage.com

[/quote]
The state dept has stopped releasing them publicly (because as mentioned terror is dramatically up over the last couple of years).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4488513.stm

Our current war on terror has been blatantly uneffective, mostly because we are fighting a war in Iraq right now. Once we get back to focusing on fighting terror and it’s root causes (our policy) things should get a little better.

[quote]100meters wrote:
The state dept has stopped releasing them publicly (because as mentioned terror is dramatically up over the last couple of years).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4488513.stm
[/quote]

I truly thought this was common knowledge by now. I posted similar weeks ago in regards to information not being released because the figures don’t show a decrease in terror acts. I also posted a link to an article in FOX news that showed our own intel is leading to a possible attack on the US in less than 90 days.

Strategy page is about military strategy and planning. It’s not political. The links posted from the BBC, quite clearly, define themselves.

Unlinking the war in Iraq is also more about politics then understanding terrorism, it causes and effects.

To anyone interested, read both sites and draw your own conclusions. If you have already made up your mind…why bother.

lumpy wrote:

“The state dept has stopped releasing them publicly (because as mentioned terror is dramatically up over the last couple of years).”

That’s not true and you know it. The supposed cause and effect has not been proven (just alleged). I love my democrats!!!

We’ve been over this.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4488513.stm

“Our current war on terror has been blatantly uneffective, mostly because we are fighting a war in Iraq right now. Once we get back to focusing on fighting terror and it’s root causes (our policy) things should get a little better.”

Remind me again how many attacks occurred around the world before early 2003?

I love my apologists!!!

hillary FOREVER!!!

JeffR

[quote]hedo wrote:
If you have already made up your mind…why bother.[/quote]

Good point. Do you ever wonder if you are guilty of this?

[quote]100meters wrote:
hedo wrote:
Big Dave56 wrote:
Was it the State Dept or the CIA numbers that show that terrorist attacks have gone up several hundred percent since the Iraq war? That number did not include attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Please post a link.

The link to the site I referenced is:

strategypage.com

The state dept has stopped releasing them publicly (because as mentioned terror is dramatically up over the last couple of years).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4488513.stm

Our current war on terror has been blatantly uneffective, mostly because we are fighting a war in Iraq right now. Once we get back to focusing on fighting terror and it’s root causes (our policy) things should get a little better.[/quote]

OK,

Aside from the fact that you guys both ignored the Pew study entirely, and then didn’t discuss what should be the rubric for measuring success for the GWOT, but then went straight to your favorite pet stat, there is at least one huge problem with that stat.

Namely, how does one correlate the success or failure of the Bush Administration’s efforts with the number of world-wide terrorism attacks. This aggregate stat includes attacks not at all related to any U.S. efforts, including attacks related to Chechnya, Ceylon, the Philipines and Viet Nam (to name a few), but also includes some that are only arguably related, such as Israel, Syria and Egypt (again, to name a few).

All in all, I’d say the aggregate number is fairly useless if your goal is analyzing the effectiveness of U.S. policy.

Now, back to the main question: How should one evaluate the success or failure of the policies thus far? As I said before, it would seem to be, “Are we safer today than before,” but we need to parse the perception of safety pre 9/11 vs. the actual risk level, and probably examine a whole slew of other factors that don’t yield easy answers, such as "How many new terrorist recruits are actually coming in as a result of our policies, versus how many we are eliminating (either by dissuading them from becoming terrorists or killing them).

100meters,

“Once we get back to focusing on fighting terror and it’s root causes (our policy) things should get a little better.”

Rubbish. Islamists were trying to establish a pan-caliphate long before the US even existed or had a ‘policy’ toward Arab nations.

The new terrorism is nothing but an extension of that politico-religious approach: when the Islamists were the ‘oppressors’, they had the exact same designs on conquest and destruction that they do now as ‘oppressees’. Nothing has changed, so it is faulty to think the US created the ‘conditions’ that have led to Islamism.

As for the effectiveness of the war on terror, I think the current policy has been effective, but we need not get overconfident. I fear that Europe is in more danger than the US. That doesn’t mean I think the US is danger-free, only that Europe faces more problems with its unassimilated Muslim minorities and its social tolerance for pockets of extremism.

One major step is for Muslims nations to grow louder and louder in their disapproval of Islamism. The West will continue to do its job - hopefully, unless it subsribes to the whiney pacifism of old - but the real engine for victory lies in Muslim nations rising up to denounce Islamism and join forces to combat it.

Still waiting on that.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
hedo wrote:
If you have already made up your mind…why bother.

Good point. Do you ever wonder if you are guilty of this?[/quote]

Sometimes? What about you?

The effectiveness of the war on terror to this point is inconclusive.

The bottom line is you are more likely to die falling off a ladder than die in a terrorist attack.

No, Boston–to answer your question. The war against terrorism while being wholly ideal has not effective because it does not address the aforementioned root causes; those causes being (JeffR conclude I am an apologist before you finish reading this) American and western foreign policy. While I don’t apologize for much of the west’s policy I do apologize for the inconsistency that we have shown to the rest of the world in our policy. It’s been stated by me and many others numerous times on these threads so I won’t beat a dead horse–you can choose to believe they exist or not.

To add, not only do I think the WOT has been ineffective I don’t think a war against ideals can ever be effective. At best all we can do is manage one incident at a time and perhaps get lucky in stopping a few fatal occurrences. Will this stop terrorism ultimately? No, probably not.

If we look at specific example of terrorism in recent history such as the IRA we can ask our selves how did the British stop this extremism? I can tell you this (any of my Irish, or English friends feel free to correct me) any attempt at more force was replied with equal and opposite force. The IRA did not make any concessions until they were seriously listened to.

This does not mean we should concede to terrorists that prey on women, children and innocent bystanders…just listen to what they are saying and ask ourselves is there anything we can do (other than blow some shit up) to alleviate this problem with as minimal force possible?

[quote]hedo wrote:
Professor X wrote:
hedo wrote:
If you have already made up your mind…why bother.

Good point. Do you ever wonder if you are guilty of this?

Sometimes? What about you?

[/quote]

I would like to think I leave my mind open to possibilities. I am not in love with the president, therefore, it leaves me the ability to look at a situation without that particular bias. I also don’t hate the man, but have learned from his choices where his attentions lie. I asked the question because you seem convinced that what anyone says in opposition to what you believe is false.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
hedo wrote:
Professor X wrote:
hedo wrote:
If you have already made up your mind…why bother.

Good point. Do you ever wonder if you are guilty of this?

Sometimes? What about you?

I would like to think I leave my mind open to possibilities. I am not in love with the president, therefore, it leaves me the ability to look at a situation without that particular bias. I also don’t hate the man, but have learned from his choices where his attentions lie. I asked the question because you seem convinced that what anyone says in opposition to what you believe is false.
[/quote]

If you mean in general then your stating an opinion which I disagree with. Your “trying” to paint me as an idealogue which is contrary to the wrting by each of us on this thread. I suggest the comparison you assume “common knowledge” is a good example of idealogy.

If you are arguing the point of the orginal post. I commented that I think we are winning the war against terrorism, in response to a question someone else asked, You disagreed, made a statement that you thought it “common knowledge” that we are not. Various other poster disagreed with you.

I read the article you posted, including the title. Clearly it was not written with an open mind. I don’t know what clarity it would provide other then saying the statistics are innacurate and need to fixed. Hardly data to make a conclusion, unless your mind is already made up.

To contrast that note of reporting I posted a link to a site that is often quoted here by myself and others. The owner uses statistical analysis and metric evaluation to guage the effectiveness of various militaries around the world and has also developed evaluation methodology for quantitive trading strategies for Wall St. One of his pet projects is measuring the effectiveness of various military responses and weapons when used against terrorism. Thought provoking? I thought so, that’s why I posted and suggested to the reader to compare both and make up their mind. Sounds open minded to me and like good advice.

So one might be lead to believe that I have compared the information gathered by a recognized expert, compiled over a period of time and came to a thoughtful conclusion. You have read an article by a reported for the BBC and referenced a FOX news article.

I may seem convinced that I am right but it is after careful consideration in most cases. Having a different opinion doesn’t make me wrong, or you right.

Professor you may be correct and I could be way off. I am open to the possibility. People have different opinions, and they are just that. Facts are facts. They may be subject to interpetation but in the end the results speak for themselves.

As so many threads on this board deteriorate into a two person argument or an attack or defense of an individuals I propose to limit any of my further comments to the topic at hand and not the individual poster.

Has the War on Terror Been Effective

The way it’s been fought about as effective as the war on drugs.

[quote]hedo wrote:
People have different opinions, and they are just that. Facts are facts. They may be subject to interpetation but in the end the results speak for themselves.[/quote]

Right, and if those “facts” were indisputable, there would be no need for further discussion. Obviously…

Lifticus,

“This does not mean we should concede to terrorists that prey on women, children and innocent bystanders…just listen to what they are saying and ask ourselves is there anything we can do (other than blow some shit up) to alleviate this problem with as minimal force possible?”

The problem with this suggestion is that radical extremists are not interested in negotiation or settlement of issues. They are interested in dominance, conquest.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a good example. The terror elements that drive the violence there aren’t amenable to a political solution - their grievance is not over a boundary or an unfairness of line-drawing. That could be solved through compromise and negotiation. What they want, instead, is elimination of the Jewish state and ultimately Jews themselves. They are not interested in “you go live your life, and we’ll mind our business and live ours” within an agreed upon a “live and let live” compromise - they want dominance, destruction, and supremacy. Therapy, which is what you suggest, would just get us all killed.

So your idea that we should just listen falls short of acceptable - listen to what? The jihadist literature is out there, go read it - if you want to know what the Islamists want. It’s no great mystery. It is not compromise - they are pissed that non-Sharia governments and elements exist in what was once their sacred Muslim empire. They are pissed that Western societies have influence over Arab societies. They are pissed that Arab apostates are in power.

So there is nothing to listen to. If the US completely withdrew all contacts from the Middle East and eliminated all trade - even oil - Islamism would be alive and well, looking to reconquer Spanish Andalusia and reclaim their borders right up to the gates of Vienna. It was there when Muslims dominated the landscape for centuries - ie, when they were the ‘oppressors’, mind you - and the new crop just want to reclaim that mythical glory of the Ottomans.

The desire for a pan-caliphate among extremist Muslims is not a new phenomenon created by ‘oppression’ by Westerners, your rewarmed neo-Marxism aside. This Islamist philosophy is a cultural pathology that exists whether the US buys its oil from Arab states or not.

Continued success in the War on Terror, I think, depends on being able to not mince words about what we’re up against and going full-throttle to defeat it. Our grandfathers knew how to do that in WWII - it’d be nice if our generation could pull it off just the same.

Hedo,

StrategyPage is a great source of info, particularly from the guys they have on the ground and in the military. Dunnigan often has unique insights into the sometimes arcane workings of the military. Also, many of the articles are like a Popular Mechanics for people with a military bent. It’s worth reading just for those articles!

(Also, don’t waste Cheesecake’s valuable time. There are perfectly healthy 18 year olds that need to be angrily dismissed from the office, superior officers that need to be sullenly mumbled at, and jelly donuts that need to be consumed.)