Monday, April 25, 2005

Evidence the U.S. might be Losing the War on Terror

In an article posted today on the Independent Institute's website, Mr. Ivan Eland has stated that evidence exists proving the United States may be losing the Global War on terror (click here). In general, the points he makes are no different than what had been asserted prior to our invasion of Iraq - the Administration pasted together dubious info for a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam, the invasion has had the effect of swelling terrorist ranks rather than lowering them, etc.

However, one thing that is new is the assertion the current administration may be attempting to suppress data showing that we are losing. I'm not incredibly surprised.

What I am surprised at - all of the life and liberty lost (domestically and abroad) during this dangerous "war" and we are still wondering if we could somehow hit a jumper at the last second and win the game? Instead of saying that we "might be losing", can someone tell me how we possibly ever might win?

1 comment:

Larry Eubanks said...

I have a couple of thoughts to explore. First, the linked to article by Eland refers to an assertion made by Larry Johnson. Unfortunately, Eland does not provide a link to Johnson's assertion itself. A quick trip around the web revealed that there are people talking about Johnson's assertion, and that, of course, there is some debate about the validity of the assertion. It seems there is the possibility of a change in methodology in producing the terrorist numbers that might suggest comparing apples to oranges. I don't know how to assess this. So, I ask if either Eland or Johnson might have a financial interest in the views they present. Mr. Eland's commentary page includes adds for his 2 books. One written in 2001 apparently includes the suggestion the United States should have a noninterventionist defense policy which would save money and be less likely to make enemies in the world. His 2004 book seems based on the premise the United States has imperial motives to create an empire, and there is reference to "blowback" which seems might link him intellectually to Ward Churchill and roosting chickens. With respect to Mr. Johnson, it seems possible he has an interest in being a frequent critic of the current Administration on television talk shows. I'm not suggesting I know either Eland or Johnson to be wrong, just that I wanted to have their views sitting in some perspective.

Second, the specific tidbit of information the article relies upon is that there were 175 counted terrorist attacks worldwide in 2003 and 625 counted terrorist attacks worldwide (including Iraq) in 2004. I suspect we don't know what these numbers mean because we have a counterfactual situation. That is to say, we don't know how many terrorist attacks to expect as a baseline. If we don't have a theory that predicts the number of terrorist attacks, I don't think I know how to interpret the change in number. In addition, maestro's posting is about a "war on terror," and I don't know whether to consider the attacks counted now as battles within the context of war or as terror attacks. It is plausible to think that in response to our change to an offensive mode, that there would be increased terror attacks that represent counter-attacks? Can we judge by such short term numbers if we are winning or losing the war on terror? I'm inclined to answer no.

I don't have a specific answer to maestro's last question. I'm not sure the experience in Iraq and in increased terror attacks worldwide is not pretty much what I expected to be the experience. What I don't think I expected was the political movements for democracy that we have seen recently. Perhaps this observation is one path by which to explore maestro's question.