Earlier today I raised the question of whether our “War on Terror” had actually made us safer, and if perhaps it might be time to start discussing some other strategies. The response from some of my righty readers was that we should not discuss other strategies, and that they wouldn’t mind seeing me die in a terrorist attack, just for raising the issue.
Yeah… well screw you, too.
In addressing my questions, I thought it might be useful to point out that the number of major terrorist attacks worldwide have actually tripled between 2003 and 2004.
The number of “significant” international terrorist attacks rose to about 650 last year from about 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides briefed Monday on the numbers by U.S. State Department and intelligence officials.
650 is an awful lot of terrorist attacks, but according to the Financial Times, it’s not quite as large a number as 3,200.
In April the US State Department had said there were 651 “international” terrorism incidents last year. But using a broader definition to include attacks that “deliberately hit civilians or non-combatants” the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Tuesday raised that number to 3,192. The incidents resulted in the deaths, injury or kidnapping of almost 28,500 people.
Of course the number of terrorist attacks in the US was nearly zilch, a number the Bush administration claims represents the success of their anti-terrorism policies. But apart from the occasional abortion clinic bombing or animal rights nutcase (yes, the left has a few crazies of its own), terrorist attacks on US soil are exceedingly rare, and almost always of domestic origin. Eight years passed between the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the devastation of 9/11, and for the life of me, I can’t think of another attack on the homeland by foreign terrorists.
But the “War on Terrorism” is a world war… a war we are openly fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and covertly fighting throughout the world. So the best measure of the war’s progress is the number of terrorist attacks worldwide. And the trends just don’t look so good for our current policies.
The chart above was created by BTC News using the Terrorism Knowledge Base. And what it clearly shows is that the number of terrorist attacks declined throughout the Clinton years, and have increased year by year since Bush took office.
And so again, I think it is fair to ask: has the Iraq war made the world a safer place? And isn’t it time we have a reasonable discussion over whether military might alone is enough to defeat international terrorism?