Progress in Iraq Doesn’t Mean We’re Winning the War on Terror

Progress in Iraq Doesn’t Mean We’re Winning the War on Terror

The recent decline in violence in Iraq is not synonymous with progress in the war on terror. Instead, the debate over the success of the Iraq surge strategy is a dangerous distraction from the "long, hard slog" that awaits us in the fight against violent extremism.

Four-and-a-half years ago, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used that phrase to refer to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in a notorious 2003 memo titled "Global War on Terror." In that same internal dispatch, Rumsfeld also stated that "we lack the metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror." Today, however, the evidence is overwhelming.

Six months ago, as troop increases in Iraq were beginning to quell the bloodshed there, a comprehensive examination of progress in the war on terror by the American Security Project found that the United States was succeeding in only two of 10 metrics: a decrease in the number of state sponsors of terrorism and advancements in economic prosperity in the Muslim world. The study also found that a significant increase in worldwide terrorist incidents was the single most ominous indicator that U.S. counterterrorism strategy was in trouble. Six months later, as an update to the American Security Project report released today (March 12) indicates the trends have not improved.

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