New Report Card on Administration's 'War on Terrorism' Gives Few Passing Grades, According to National Security Expert: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
September 8, 2003

New Report Card on Administration’s “War on Terrorism” Gives Few Passing Grades, According to National Security Expert
Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland Says Bush Gets an “F” in Terrorism War

OAKLAND, Calif. — A leading expert on war and national security issues here at the nonpartisan Independent Institute has taken the Bush Administration to task for failing to achieve its stated goals in its “war on terrorism.”

Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Institute, uses the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the American response. So far, he says, the effort has only “drawn a bull’s eye on the American people and undoubtedly caused rogue states to speed their weapons programs.” In addition, he said that U.S. policy toward Iraq “has made things worse for the average Iraqi than Hussein ever did.”

He provides preliminary data that suggests that more children were killed by the U.S.-backed embargo (500,000) than the total number of Iraqis (including Kurds and Shiites) killed by Hussein.

“When bombs purposefully kill civilians, the U.S. government labels it terrorism,” Dr. Eland said. “But when a U.S.-led economic embargo does the same, it is justified as needed to make a despotic leader meet Western demands.”

He continued: “The history of economic sanctions shows that authoritarian regimes redirect the pain of economic strangulation to the weakest members of society, while keeping the pillars of the regime—the security forces—fat and happy. The United States knew that Hussein would take those very actions and sacrificed the welfare of the Iraqi people to continue its vendetta against an already weakened Hussein. Sanctions turned a once prosperous nation into a country where children died en masse.”

Eland reported that the Administration’s major accomplishment – that is, the elimination of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime that was harboring al Qaeda (gaining a B-minus)—has been significantly offset by the escape of the al Qaeda’s leadership and the growing elements of “quagmire” that is confounding the U.S. in that country.

He also raised the issued of the “demonstration effect” of eliminating Hussein on the behavior of other autocratic regimes. Comparing U.S policy toward non-nuclear Iraq and nuclear North Korea, he noted that “Iraq got invaded, and North Korea will likely get concessions.” And Eland asked: ”What would you do if you were the leaders of Iran? Just what they are doing—accelerating their nuclear program (which somehow came as a shock to the administration).”

The following is Dr. Eland’s “Report Card” on U.S. War on Terrorism:

Report Card on U.S. War on Terrorism
Removing al Qaeda haven in Afghanistan and neutralizing the group’s leadership
Avoiding a quagmire in Afghanistan
Finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq
Making Iraq better off by eliminating Saddam
Reducing proliferation of WMD to rogue states and terrorist groups
Adopting a more “humble” foreign policy to prevent overstretch of U.S. military
Making U.S. citizens and territory safer from terrorism and bringing 9/11 conspiracy to justice

Ivan Eland is also author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

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