Sunday, June 22, 2008

Turning a corner against terrorism

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve amassed a larger-than-usual pile of secret peace-ish articles here waiting to be blogged about. Sifting through them, three jump out as mirroring each other. What do they have in common? Surprisingly good news about the war on terror.
  1. Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria talks about the worldwide drop in terrorism over the last few years. Stats that show terrorism on the increase tend to count civilian casualties in Iraq, which doesn’t really make sense. Excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorist attacks and casualties from terrorism are way down. In addition, Islamist terrorist groups stumbled in their recruiting PR by killing too many Muslim civilians; support for their tactics among Muslims has plummeted in recent years.

    (This brings up a conservative theory I’ve read which posits that by attracting potential terrorists to fight in Iraq, that country’s invasion has prevented attacks on the US. If true (and how would you prove it?), this is easily the most compelling justification for the war I’ve heard. Of course, it’s still a justification that was thought of long after the fact of deciding to invade.)

  2. Meanwhile, The Week summarizes a number of data sources about the sorry state of al Qaida. Al Qaida is on its last legs in Iraq and Afghanistan, having been backed into a corner in Pakistan, its one remaining stronghold. And we’re getting more effective at fighting them there; rather than just throwing money at Pakistan (and watching it arm itself against India instead), we’re training local Pakistani troops directly.

  3. Lastly, the Economist had a cover story about “The change in Iraq: Is it turning the corner?” Optimism is popping up in the country, thanks to more ceasefires, fewer casualties, more political cooperation, and a bit of restored infrastructure, including a surge in cell phones. The newspaper is quick to explain that it is not trumpeting good news in Iraq as a means to justify the war (it backed the decision to invade); indeed, the war remains a terrible, deadly blunder. However, progress is finally being made out of a bad situation.

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