“War on Terror” Going Better, Despite Pakistan Instability, Survey Finds

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


fy2005par_illust_ex_sg02.jpg

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the main US ally in the war on terror, resigned today under threat of impeachment. The news has Washington’s nerves on end for a number of reasons, not least of which is that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country in a volatile neighborhood, plagued by Islamic militants, and which has in the wings no obvious successor to Musharraf to help keep everything from unraveling.

Pakistan has long been the center of US attention when it comes to fighting Al Qaeda. Now, with Musharraf gone, the strategic alliance between the two will become all the more delicate and uncertain. It’s one that Washington must not allow to go sour. According to a survey released today by Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress, 69 percent of foreign policy experts polled now believe that Pakistan is the nation most likely to transfer nuclear weapons technology to terrorists; just 35 percent thought so last year. (Thanks to A.Q. Khan, it’s already the world’s leading distributor of the stuff to states seeking nuclear weapons, like Iran and North Korea.)

That said, all is not doom and gloom. For the first time in its (albeit short) history, the Foreign Policy survey finds that experts are feeling positive about recent developments in the war on terror. From a press release announcing the survey’s results:

  • Fewer experts now say that the world is becoming more dangerous for Americans and the United States, from 91 percent in 2007 to 70 percent this year—a 21-point drop in 12 months. Although still a minority, more experts believe we are winning the war on terror—21 percent of the experts compared with 6 percent last year.
  • Experts are more optimistic about Iraq and the surge. Sixty percent of experts now say the surge is promoting U.S. security—up from 17 percent last year. In 2007, 10 percent of experts named the Iraq war as the greatest threat to U.S. security. In May 2008, not a single expert did.
  • Experts’ assessments differ from presidential candidates’ on key issues. Although nearly 7 in 10 experts support a drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq in the next 18 months, Republican Sen. John McCain opposes setting a date for withdrawal, saying that if U.S. forces pull out, “al Qaeda will then win and we’ll see chaos and genocide in the region.” Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, for his part, has continued to criticize the so-called surge of U.S. troops in Iraq, even though almost 90 percent of experts believe it has had a positive effect on Iraq’s security.
  • A bipartisan majority (69 percent) says that the United States should redeploy forces from Iraq to Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. With last year the deadliest on record for Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion in 2001, 80 percent of the experts, including 63 percent of conservatives, report that the United States has focused too much on Iraq and not enough on Afghanistan.
  • A strong majority (74 percent) believe U.S. energy policy is having a negative impact on U.S. national security. The administration received its lowest grade—a 2.2 out of 10—on U.S. energy policy since the index began in 2006.
  • DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

    Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

    It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

    We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

    We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

    It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

    Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

    Signed by Clara Jeffery

    Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

    payment methods

    We Recommend

    Latest