Are We Winning? Measuring Progress in the Struggle Against Violent Jihadism
WASHINGTON, D.C. (PRWEB) September 5, 2007
According to a new report released today by the American Security Project (ASP), the United States and its allies are currently failing in the "War on Terror."
The report, "Are We Winning? Measuring Progress in the Struggle Against Violent Jihadism," is the first to examine together the component pieces of the struggle against Islamist terrorism, and to produce a series of metrics of success that are both as objective as possible and reproducible on an annual basis.
Authored by ASP Senior Fellow Dr. Bernard I. Finel, the report features ten criteria to measure progress in combating the violent jihadist threat; uses empirical data to rate each trend positive, ambiguous or negative; and then ranks them in order of importance.
The results paint a decidedly bleak picture, with negative and ambiguous trends outweighing positive developments in combating the worldwide terrorist threat in both number and level of relative importance. Among the ten metrics, five are assessed as negative, three are ambiguous and two show some progress. But among the top five indicators, three were negative, one ambiguous and one positive.
The report identifies negative trends in the number of terrorist incidents worldwide, the strength of Al Qaeda affiliated organizations, public attitudes in the Muslim world, the scale of ungoverned spaces, and efforts to curtail terrorist financing. It notes ambiguous progress to date in disrupting the jihadist movement, inoculating the American public against the fear and anxiety which are key to the terrorist's agenda, and improving international cooperation against terrorism.
"A significant upward trend in the number of terrorist incidents worldwide, even excluding attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and those related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, combined with a change in the nature of those attacks, is the single most ominous indicator of the grave challenge facing the U.S. and its allies," said Dr. Finel.
There is some good news, but even that is plagued with caveats, the report found. While the number of nations nominally committed to fighting terrorism has increased since the attacks of September 11, 2001, much of this increased cooperation has been rhetorical. Likewise, even though indicators of economic prosperity are trending positive in many areas of the Muslim world, much of the growth is related to recent increases in oil prices. The failure of many of these states to move toward post-oil economies means any economic gains -- and the related benefits to individual citizens -- are likely to be short term.
Significant policy failures, the report concludes, are the primary reason for the currently grim outlook in combating violent jihadism.
"United States counter-terrorism strategy since the onset of the war in Iraq has been largely unsuccessful and counterproductive," concluded Dr. Finel. "This failure is rooted in the focus on terrorism as a state-level challenge, rather than on the social and cultural elements that nurture and sustain the jihadist movement. This is not a state level issue; it is a transnational one that requires broad, novel and cooperative initiatives."
According to Dr. Finel, the jihadist movement relies on a very specific narrative -- that is that Islam is under attack by the West. "Unfortunately, at the same time that Muslims worldwide are increasingly rejecting the use of terror in the abstract, American foreign policy is increasingly seen by many in the Muslim world as aggressive, hostile, disruptive and duplicitous," he said.
The report outlines a number of recommendations to improve progress on each of the ten metrics, including a new U.S. strategy that emphasizes public diplomacy, international cooperation, and consensus.
To download a copy of the full report, visit http://www.americansecurityproject.org.
The American Security Project (ASP) is a non-profit, bi-partisan public policy research and education initiative dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of a range of national security and foreign policy issues. It is organized around the belief that honest public discussion of national security requires an informed citizenry---one that understands the dangers and opportunities of the twenty-first century and the spectrum of available responses. ASP was formed to help Americans---from opinion leaders to the general public---understand how national security issues relate directly to them, and to explain challenges and threats in a way that spurs constructive action.