[轉載] The Terrorism Index 2008 (1)
The Terrorism Index 2008
For the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, issues of national security no longer dominate political discourse. Rising energy costs, the subprime mortgage implosion, and other domestic imperatives now monopolize the national conversation. In a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Americans ranked terrorism as the country’s 10th-most important priority—behind healthcare, education, and the federal budget deficit. But even as attentions shift, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have become the longest U.S. military engagements in a century, with the exception of Vietnam. Around the world, terrorists have continued to strike with deadly effect—from Athens and Paris to Beirut and Baghdad. The upcoming presidential election presents the United States with a choice about how it will seek to combat this threat, even as, somewhere, terrorists might be plotting their next attack. Wherever the war on terror may exist in the public’s consciousness, there is no doubt that it rages on.
But is it making the United States safer? To find out, each year Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress survey the very people who have run America’s national security apparatus during the past half century. Surveying more than 100 top U.S. foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike—the Foreign Policy/ Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to poll the highest echelons of the country’s national security establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror. First released in July 2006, then again in February and September 2007, the index attempts to draw definitive conclusions about the war’s priorities, policies, and progress. Its participants include people who have served as national security advisor, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior White House aides, top Pentagon commanders, seasoned intelligence professionals, and distinguished academics.
Although most of these experts still see a world with considerable dangers, this year’s index revealed a new trend: signs of progress. For the first time since the index was launched in 2006, the experts have become more optimistic. A year ago, 91 percent of the experts said they believed the world was growing more dangerous for Americans and the United States. This year that figure fell to 70 percent, a 21-point drop in 12 months. Similarly, when asked in 2007 if they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “The United States is winning the war on terror,” just 6 percent of the experts agreed. Today, 21 percent of the experts say the United States is making headway in fighting terrorism. Overall, the percentage of experts who see the threat of global terrorist networks as increasing dropped from 83 percent last year to 55 percent today. Such assessments, broadly speaking, represent the most positive scores in the two-year history of the index.
Some of this optimism might stem from what the experts see as good news in Iraq. Sixty percent of the experts, for instance, say that the so-called surge in Iraq has had a positive impact on the war effort. That figure represents a massive reversal from a year ago, when 53 percent of the experts said the surge was failing. The experts also see progress in U.S. policy elsewhere, including the Korean Peninsula. Forty-six percent of the experts believe that U.S. policy toward North Korea is positively advancing America’s national security goals, a 35-point increase from two years ago and a 12-point increase in the past 12 months. More than half the experts say that U.S. policy toward China is having a positive impact, up 25 points from 2006.
The experts are not, however, without concern. On issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to Iran to U.S. energy policy, they find worrisome trends. Perhaps nowhere is this truer than with regard to the war in Afghanistan. Eighty percent of the experts say that the United States has focused too much on the war in Iraq and not enough on the war in Afghanistan. A majority, 66 percent, continues to say that the war in Afghanistan is having a positive impact on U.S. national security, but that figure is down 27 points from two years ago. The U.S. government’s efforts to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan have been judged to be below average. Eighty-two percent of the experts say that the threat posed by competition for scarce resources is growing, an increase of 13 percentage points from last year. More than 8 in 10 experts say that the current U.S. policy toward Iran is having a negative impact on national security. And, though a large bipartisan majority agrees that creating peace between Israelis and Palestinians is important to addressing the threat of Islamist terrorism, they grade U.S. efforts at working toward that goal to be just 3.3 on a 10-point scale.
The belief that some threats are increasing while others are ebbing may help explain why, over the long term, the experts’ views about the threats we face remain consistent. As in the previous indexes, a large majority of experts—71 percent—continues to say that a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 is likely or certain within the next decade. As has also historically been the case, an even larger majority—85 percent—continues to expect a smaller-scale attack akin to those that occurred in Madrid and London within the next 10 years. It’s a reminder that, though the public’s priorities may shift, the war on terror continues.