Washington's policymakers are growing dissatisfied
with the Bush administration's troop surge in Iraq and a majority agrees that
the world is becoming more dangerous for the United States, according
to a poll released Monday.
The nonpartisan poll, called "The Terrorism Index" and released by
the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine, surveys
more than a hundred foreign policy experts, including former secretaries of
state, top commanders in the U.S. military, senior intelligence professionals,
and academics, to assess the effectiveness of how the United States is fighting
the "war on terror."
In this year's results, 91 percent of participants said the world is becoming
more dangerous for the United States, while only 2 percent said it was safer
and 84 percent of poll participants disagreed that the U.S. is winning the war
The ongoing war in Iraq appeared to be the cause of the experts' pessimism,
with 92 percent of them saying the war was negatively affecting U.S. national
security, up 5 percent from a year ago.
Opposition to the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq was most
noticeable in the 53 percent of respondents who now say that the surge of about
165,000 troops is having a negative impact, up 22 percent from six months ago.
"What I take away from that is that the last six months may have been
the most defining months in the war on terror," Foreign Policy's
senior editor Michael Boyer told IPS.
How to withdraw troops from Iraq brought mixed reactions from the bipartisan
group of experts, with a majority 68-percent supporting a redeployment
of troops from Iraq in the next 18 months while most of the experts opposed
an immediate withdrawal.
Perhaps surprisingly, slightly more conservatives 25 percent of conservative
respondents called for an immediate withdrawal than liberals or moderates.
"It's rare to see foreign policy experts in this sort of agreement on
such a politicized issue. The sentiment on the surge is shared across party
lines," said Boyer.
Despite claims from Bush administration officials and presidential candidates
that a withdrawal from Iraq will lead to further terrorist attacks in the United
States, 88 percent of experts polled agreed that a troop withdrawal from Iraq
would have no correlation or was unlikely to lead to future terrorist attacks
within the U.S.
"We have an administration that says we need a victory in Iraq or [we'll]
suffer consequences at home, but experts say that's just not so," said
Boyer. "Foreign policy experts really don't see a correlation between being
in Iraq or leaving and terrorist attacks at home."
As well as contradicting the Bush administration's justification for continued
troop deployments in Iraq, the experts expressed concern with the lasting legacy
of the administration's Middle East policy.
Fifty-eight percent of poll respondents said that in 10 years' time, Sunni-Shi'ite
tensions will have increased; 35 percent believe that Arab dictators will have
been discouraged from reforming; 5 percent believe that al-Qaeda will be weaker;
and only 3 percent believe Iraq will be a "beacon of democracy" in
the Middle East.
More than half of the experts surveyed believe that the current U.S. policy
of providing aid to Pakistan which has dramatically increased since the U.S.
invasion of Afghanistan is having a negative impact on national security.
Furthermore, 35 percent of those polled thought that Pakistan is most likely
to become the next al-Qaeda stronghold, and 74 percent believed that Pakistan
is the country most likely to transfer nuclear technology to terrorists in the
next three to five years.
Only 22 percent of respondents, however, found Pakistan to be Washington's
least useful ally, while 34 percent of those polled picked Russia as the ally
that least serves U.S. interests presumably a response to Russian President
Vladimir Putin's increasing role as a strongman.
"In terms of national security, the war in Iraq and the war on terror,
the foreign policy communities agree that all three are on the wrong track,"
(Inter Press Service)