Monday, August 20, 2007

The Terrorism Index: Damning Expert Report On Bush

This is why, even in purely political terms, the Democrats need not capitulate to Bush and the Republicans on anything. Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress conducted a survey on national security issues. They call it The Terrorism Index.
Surveying more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike—the FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation’s foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror. First released in July 2006, and again last February, the index attempts to draw definitive conclusions about the war’s priorities, policies, and progress. Its participants include people who have served as secretary of state, national security advisor, senior White House aides, top commanders in the U.S. military, seasoned intelligence professionals, and distinguished academics. Eighty percent of the experts have served in the U.S. government—including more than half in the Executive Branch, 32 percent in the military, and 21 percent in the intelligence community.
How bad is it?
Nearly every foreign policy of the U.S. government—from domestic surveillance activities and the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to U.S. energy policies and efforts in the Middle East peace process—was sharply criticized by the experts. More than 6 in 10 experts, for instance, believe U.S. energy policies are negatively affecting the country’s national security. The experts were similarly critical of the CIA’s rendition of terrorist suspects to countries known to torture prisoners and the Pentagon’s policy of trying detainees before military tribunals.

No effort of the U.S. government was more harshly criticized, however, than the war in Iraq. In fact, that conflict appears to be the root cause of the experts’ pessimism about the state of national security. Nearly all—92 percent—of the index’s experts said the war in Iraq negatively affects U.S. national security, an increase of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Negative perceptions of the war in Iraq are shared across the political spectrum, with 84 percent of those who describe themselves as conservative taking a dim view of the war’s impact. More than half of the experts now oppose the White House’s decision to “surge” additional troops into Baghdad, a remarkable 22 percentage-point increase from just six months ago. Almost 7 in 10 now support a drawdown and redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.
The report is broken down into sections, and I will give you just a taste of each.

The Failing Surge
More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all.
They rate the handling of the war as a 2.9 on a scale of 10.

A Perfect Nightmare
A perfect terrorist storm may be brewing in Pakistan. When asked to choose the nation that is most likely to become the next al Qaeda stronghold, more experts chose Pakistan than any other country, including Iraq. Osama bin Laden reportedly remains at large along Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan, where al Qaeda is also regrouping...
No surprise to anyone paying attention. Bush has been a complete disaster in the region that actually produced the September 11 terrorists. Most of whom, including Osama bin Forgotten, remain at large.

Will the enemy follow us home?
Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Given the frequent use of this dishonest excuse for continuing the war, I will repeat this quote:
Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Did you get that?
Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
The Next Front
Nearly half said that Jordan is the neighbor most likely to experience a spillover of violence from Iraq—more than twice as many who pinpointed any other country.
Interesting. They point out that most people assume Saudi Arabia or Turkey would be the most likely countries to suffer from a spillover effect. The experts say it would be this relatively moderate, and critically important, ally.

Deciphering the chatter.

The report then compares the rhetoric from the leading 2008 presidential candidates and the report's conclusions. None fare well. It says much about the disastrous impact of political posturing as opposed to calm expert analysis.

No love from Russia.
When asked to choose the U.S. ally that least serves U.S. interests, 34 percent chose Russia, far ahead of complicated friends such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
To anyone following the Putin regime, this, too, is no surprise In this amateur's opinion, his opposition to our policies is sometimes correct; but both his domestic and foreign policies are increasingly frightening.

Overall, the conclusion is one I keep repeating, and which we need to help the Congressional Democrats promote: the best defense for America's national security is to oppose the disastrous policies of Bush and the Republicans.

Please read the report.

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