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... supports Professor William Snyder's sections of National Security Law, Counterterrorism Law, and Prosecuting Terrorists at the Syracuse University College of Law.

Why no attack for seven years?

Sep 16th, 2008 Uncategorized

Last week marked the seventh anniversary of the most recent attack by al Qaeda on U.S. soil. What accounts for that? What policies should the next administration continue? Was there a U.S. government policy that prevented attacks — like perhaps denying Afghanistan as a base for “The Base” to launch attacks on U.S. soil — that should be continued? Was there a policy that hasn’t worked – perhaps because it engendered anti-American sentiment – that needs to be discontinued, like maybe the detentions at GITMO? Is there a policy that worked, but could have been done better, like relying on airpower instead of troops, resulting in too many non-combatant casualties?
Surely that lack of an attack for seven years on U.S. soil was not a failure of U.S. policy. Was it a coincidence? What is the metric for determining success? Opinion polls or dead civilians in New York?

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5 Responses to “Why no attack for seven years?”

  1. Daniel says:

    Excellent questions, all. I won’t presume to have answers to all or even most of them. But I will posit this: President Bush, for all of his mistakes, deserves credit for helping keep Americans safe. He won’t get the credit he deserves, which is a shame, but I don’t think he needs accolades to feel validated.

  2. Anonymous says:

    On the theme of not getting credit, see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122169459635249973.html in which a Fordham Law Prof argues:
    “When it comes to Iraq, a majority of Americans simply won’t take yes for an answer.
    “The surge is succeeding. Security in Iraq’s three major cities has vastly improved. The Iraqi army is finally asserting control. American casualties are at their lowest since 2003. Civilian deaths, kidnappings and car bombings have plummeted. Al Qaeda is now virtually friendless in Iraq. Most important, the Shiite and Sunni mainstream are beginning to participate in their own liberation.
    “Yet instead of rejoicing and a ticker-tape parade, our political leaders and opinion makers speak of immediate timetables for the contraction and withdrawal of our troops, the counting of our losses and the atonement for our sins. Few speak of the war with any sense of pride or patriotism. Never before has a nation so distanced itself from a military triumph. There is an overarching taboo associated with any acknowledgment that it may have benefited Iraqis and Americans.”

  3. Daniel says:

    “[I]nstead of rejoicing and a ticker-tape parade, our political leaders and opinion makers speak of immediate timetables for the contraction and withdrawal of our troops, the counting of our losses and the atonement for our sins. Few speak of the war with any sense of pride or patriotism. Never before has a nation so distanced itself from a military triumph.”
    Wow. Isn’t that the truth? Do you see this as more indicative of Americans not taking yes for an answer or as the byproduct of the reportage by the national media and its desired narrative of defeat?

  4. WCS says:

    I think that the way the media reports things is partially responsible for this. Also, the constant drum beat from the candidates of both parties has an effect. That is to say, even if the media fairly and accurately report what is being said, the messages of the candidates are negative. Having adopted “change” messages when they saw the President’s polling data was very low, neither party can now come back and say that what they promised to change from is not so bad after all. In addition, attitudes are very slow to change. The public is not going to change its general pessimism on Iraq (or anything else) to optimism very suddenly. Finally, I can’t help but notice that we as Americans seem to want to be dissatisfied with government. President Truman’s polls were for a while lower than President Nixon’s were on the day Nixon resigned! Truman, Johnson (whose polls were so bad he withdrew from the race), Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush 43 all had dismal polls at some point. Yet opinions of each of those presidents improved after they left office in the eyes of history.

  5. Daniel says:

    In response to WCS, I can only hope that opinions of Pres. Bush improve over time. He has made plenty of mistakes (show me a leader who doesn’t) but he has also provided leadership that does not wilt under pressure or waver due to polls.

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