Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission ask, Are We Safer Today? In many ways we are no safer now than we were six years ago. One problem is that the bumper sticker which says “we are creating more terrorists than we can kill” is true:
We face a rising tide of radicalization and rage in the Muslim world — a trend to which our own actions have contributed. The enduring threat is not Osama bin Laden but young Muslims with no jobs and no hope, who are angry with their own governments and increasingly see the United States as an enemy of Islam.
Four years ago, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld famously asked his advisers: “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?”
The answer is no.
While the Bush administration tries to fight this militarily (and in the wrong country) the real battle is one of hearts and minds:
We are also failing in the struggle of ideas. We have not been persuasive in enlisting the energy and sympathy of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims against the extremist threat. That is not because of who we are: Polling data consistently show strong support in the Muslim world for American values, including our political system and respect for human rights, liberty and equality. Rather, U.S. policy choices have undermined support.
No word is more poisonous to the reputation of the United States than Guantanamo. Fundamental justice requires a fair legal process before the U.S. government detains people for significant periods of time, and the president and Congress have not provided one. Guantanamo Bay should be closed now. The 9/11 commission recommended developing a “coalition approach” for the detention and treatment of terrorists — a policy that would be legally sustainable, internationally viable and far better for U.S. credibility.
A major problem remains that, “no conflict drains more time, attention, blood, treasure and support from our worldwide counterterrorism efforts than the war in Iraq. It has become a powerful recruiting and training tool for al-Qaeda.”
Supporters of the war commonly claim that liberals are soft on fighting terrorism based upon our opposition to the war. In reality, it is the Republicans who have failed the nation by not understanding the nature of the threat and attempting to fight in a counterproductive manner. Unfortunately all the Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, repeat the same erroneous beliefs which we have heard from the Bush administration since 9/11.