Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The Terrorism Index

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From the Carpetbagger:

The Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy, an influential journal published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, launched an interesting project last summer. CAP and FP asked 100 leading American foreign-policy analysts, from both sides of the aisle, for their perspectives on the war on terrorism.

The participants included some serious heavy-hitters, including a former secretary of state, former heads of the CIA and NSA, and prominent members of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, most of whom served in previous presidential administrations, senior military positions, or both.

The result was “The Terrorism Index,” which showed widespread pessimism among the leading experts in the field. Fortunately, this was not a one-time endeavor. The second bi-annual, nonpartisan survey of foreign policy experts was released today. The point of the initiative seems to be determine whether the United States is growing more or less safe, and whether we’re exercising a wise approach to foreign policy and international security.

As with the first index six months ago, the results show that America’s foreign-policy community continues to have deep reservations about U.S. policies and priorities in the war on terror. Eighty-one percent see a world that is growing more dangerous for the American people, while 75 percent say the United States is losing the war on terror. Those numbers are down marginally — 5 and 9 percentage points respectively — from six months ago. Yet, when asked whether President George W. Bush has a clear plan to protect the United States from terrorism, 7 in 10 experts say no — including nearly 40 percent of those who identified themselves as conservatives. More than 80 percent of the experts continue to expect a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade, a result that is unchanged from six months ago.

There’s a surprising amount of consensus on many of the biggest questions — surprising because getting this diverse group of experts to agree on anything is challenging.

  • Iraq and U.S. security — 88% of the experts believe that the war in Iraq is having a negative impact on U.S. national security.
  • Iraq and the administration — 92% said that the Bush administration’s performance on Iraq has been below average, with nearly 6 in 10 experts of all political stripes saying the Bush administration is doing the “worst possible job” in Iraq.
  • Iraq and the “war on terror” — More than two thirds of the experts say that Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism. In fact, given the choice between securing and stabilizing Iraq and ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons, more experts say dealing with Pyongyang is the most important U.S. foreign-policy objective of the next five years.
  • The “surge” — The Terrorism Index suggests the administration has the escalation policy backwards. 66% believe we shouldn’t be sending more troops into Iraq (which we are), while 69% believe we should send more troops into Afghanistan (which we aren’t).
  • The strengths of U.S. rivals — 83% of experts said the Taliban is stronger now than it was a year ago. 56% said the same of Hamas, and 91% said the same of Hezbollah. Opinion was nearly divided on whether al Qaeda is stronger now than a year ago, but a 31% plurality said the terrorist network is “somewhat stronger.”
  • Public perceptions — The experts and the general population are not on the same page. 51% of Americans believe Bush has a plan to protect the U.S. from terrorism; 70% of experts said he does not. 46% of Americans (a plurality) believe we’re winning the “war on terror”; 75% of experts said we are not. 43% of Americans (a plurality) believe the U.S. is safer from a terrorist attack now than before 9/11; 81% of experts believe the opposite.

The White House isn’t fond of analyses from policy experts — what can a bunch of eggheads with experience and PhDs tell Bush? — but given the participants in this project, the results should raise some eyebrows.

Take a look at the whole thing. It’s a fascinating report.

Written by Leisureguy

13 February 2007 at 12:28 pm

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