New poll: Is the "War On Terror" making the world a safer place?

by Volker Weber

Axis of evil, weapons of mass destruction, safe harbor for terrosists. We have heard it all. The world is divided on whether this "War On Terror" is working at all. But what do you think? Is the world a safer place now?



Well, in my eyes complex questions like this one can't be answered with a "simple" yes or no. I voted No because in my eyes Bush's War on Terror is either hugely mistaken or a cover for hidden political agendas.

On the other hand, we also have to consider that the US military undertakes substancial efforts to cut down the terror besides the debated deployment in Iraq, like e.g. its warships patrolling the seas to catch illegal weapon deliveries.
Yet we can never conclusively answer the question as the inability to test alternative scenarios is a general property of the historic sciences.

Either way, I don't like the term "War on Terror" because terror will never completely disappear - it takes too little ressources to have a devastating effect so there will always be somebody tempted to try it. So does the term "War on Terror" mean somebody is planning to be at war forever? Obviously the term itself is one of those pieces of propaganda that easily fall to the inquisitive mind.

Philipp Sury, 2007-01-11

There should be 3 choices:
Hell No

Bob Balaban, 2007-01-12

The question is ambiguous and confusing, not to mention that the questions in the post and in the poll are not the same. It sounds like an essay question from my university courses in international politics. Back then the topic was nuclear war, but the principles are the same.

There are two sides to "safe". The one side is objective, what is the risk of being the victim of a terrorist attack. The other side subjective and emotional, does one feel "safe"?

I believe that we in the first world are objectively safer now than on 9/11, not because of anything that governments have done, but because the public is more aware of the risk and is more willing to act (as on Flight 93). However, we feel considerably less safer, precisely because we are more aware of the risk.

The domestic components of the "war on terror" are probably a wash. They are a huge waste of time and resources and have eroded civil liberties, but they probably haven't made objective safety any better or any worse. The military components have certainly made things less safe in the affected countries. So I can't say whether the world as a whole is any safer now or not. Our increased safety in the first world is probably more than offset by decreased safety everywhere else. The subjective feeling of safety is certainly worse everywhere.

So in the sidebar I clicked "No".

Scott Hanson, 2007-01-12

No, the world isn't a safer place now. All I see is that the terror still is there and not weaker than before the beginning of the "war against terror". Almost every month we hear some governments saying, that a terrorist attack has been blighted. But we all don't know, if this is really true. After the beginning of the "war against terror" we had two major wars. One in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. And the most important thing: Our whole life is changing cause of this fight against terror. Mobile phones, credit cards, Internet connections get controlled. Everybody, especially in the USA, must be in fear, that they get in jail, just because you "look" like someone who isn't trustworthy. Especially when you just look arabic.

Look at the Prison in Guantanamo. Is that the way we deal with people, with humans? With no advocate or help? And, most important, we should not forget how many innocent people died till today because of the "war against terror". In Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia or other places on our earth. And is it correct to kill 1000 innocent people to kill one terrorist? I don't think so.

Alper Iseri, 2007-01-12

@Bob, then there should be a fourth as well: "Y'all are safer now!"

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-01-12

Well, from a certain point of view you can say without a doubt that the world is safer now. At least our world. The terrorists have now enough trouble with helping out in Iraq, I don't think they got time for anything else. So you're safe, as long as you don't go there - but who wants to go there anyway?

On the other hand:
@ Scott:
I'm very aware what happens when I don't study for my upcoming tests and I'm therefor more willing to do something. But right at the moment I'm visiting because that's just not as boring as studying, right?

Michael Schober, 2007-01-12

Is it the terror coming from the "evil" terrorists or the terror coming from the us government?

Arrr - thanks got - no patriot act here in germany

Sascha Reissner, 2007-01-12

It'sinteresting to see how public opinion changes with time...remember the freedom fries?

Martijn Mulder, 2007-01-12

Martijn, I hardly doubt that any of vowe's respondents was a convinced user of the term "freedom fries". Conduct the same poll among such a population and you will certainly receive very different results.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-01-12

Of course you're right Ragnar, I'm sure the average voter is not the average American voter.
I should have been clearer. What I actually was referring to was what I read in the news a few weeks ago: as many people in the US who supported the war in Iraq back in 2002 are now opposed to it.
It seems that people have very short memories and don't realize the horror of war until it smacks them in the face. They insulted the French and Germans for not supporting this war, although now they find out they were right not to support it.

Martijn Mulder, 2007-01-12

Don't you mean "The War in Error"?

Asad Quraishi, 2007-01-12

Martijn, we have to consider that thankfully it's a long time since the USA experienced war on their own territories.

The last war was the Civil War, notably a home brew, which is considered the first modern war, yet has considerable differences from WWI and II, mostly in its totality. After that Pearl Harbor and German submarines attacking the East Coast was the closest the storms of war could ever get again (unless one considers the Cuba Crisis and 9-11 an act of war). During his presidency, Woodrow Wilson encouraged his fellow Americans to be economical with food and certain goods were rationalized, but I still think it's a valid claim to say that the war experiences between Europeans and Americans significantly differ.

Philipp Sury, 2007-01-13

Strange enough, in our selfishness, nobody is talking about the Iraqi people themselves and yes, the question is ambiguous. Simply looking at the statistics I do not think Iraqi people feel any safer at all.

I highly suggest everybody downloading and watching "The power of nightmares" a very good documentary on the matter of "feeling safe" in our modern societies created by the BBC in 2004.
Still very up to date and meaningful.

It's still well seeded, bittorrent will get you the file in no time.

Pieter Lansbergen, 2007-01-17

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