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The Terrorism Index

Post 9/11 politicians everywhere have adopted the mantra of the "war on terror". George Bush and John Howard are great advocates for the now very much over-worked term.

In Australia, John Howard has this week had to deal with the UK High Commissioner to Australia asserting that the British did not enter into the Iraq War as part of the "war on terror". See Alan Ramsay's piece "Home truths about Bush's Iraq War" in the SMH on that issue here.

Meanwhile, FP [Foreign Policy magazine] has undertaken its own survey on the "war on terror" and it is all faring. Not well it seems. It's a timely piece worth reading.

"America’s leaders like to say that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, represented a watershed. After that fateful day, Americans were told, problems that had been allowed to linger—terrorist sanctuaries, dangerous dictators, and cumbersome government bureaucracies—would no longer be neglected and left for terrorists to exploit. Yet, more than five years later, Americans are more skeptical than ever that the United States has effectively confronted the threat of terrorism. Barely half believe that their government has a plan to protect them from terrorism. Just six months ago, 55 percent of Americans approved of the way the war on terror was being handled. Today, that number is just 43 percent—lower than at practically any point since the 9/11 attacks.

That skepticism could be easily attributed to dark events in the past six months: a bloody war between Israel and Hezbollah, a plot in Britain to explode liquid bombs aboard airliners bound for the United States, North Korea’s nuclear test, a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, and Iraq’s downward slide into deadly sectarian strife. But is the public’s pessimism over the war on terror just a problem of perception? After all, the United States has yet to be attacked again at home—and that could be the most important benchmark of all.

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