Friday, June 30, 2006

Are we feeling safe yet?

By Nancy Jane Moore

Do you think the government has been successful in its so-called war on terrorism? The experts don't think so.

The Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine conducted a survey among a bipartisan group of 100 foreign policy and national security experts. They dubbed the result the "Terrorism Index" (pdf file).

86 percent of those surveyed said the world is becoming more dangerous for the US and its people. 84 percent disagree that we're winning the war on terror, as Bush insists. 81 percent rate intelligence reform as fair to poor. 77 percent say the war in Iraq had a very negative impact on national security.

And 84 percent think we'll have a terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11 within the next ten years.

That's just a few of the highlights from this survey. Bob Herbert of The New York Times summarized it in his June 29 column (unfortunately only available in the print edition and to those who shell out money for Times Select online). I suggest you check out the survey itself -- see who took part and what they said. You'll be surprised at how many times conservatives and liberals agreed. That alone should make it obvious that there's a real problem with the way our government is dealing with security and foreign policy.

I don't want to scare people into panic attacks. The average American is many times more likely to die in a car wreck or to have a stroke or heart attack than to be killed by a terrorist.

But I do want to encourage people to recognize that our government isn't doing its most important job -- keeping our people safe. That's despite the fact that they've been trampling on our civil liberties in the name of national security. The real problem is that they're doing it wrong. Obviously we need to replace the government -- starting with Congress this fall -- with people who have the smarts to do it right.

As an aside: If they're so ineffective on national security, one wonders how they're doing at preparing for disease pandemics and natural disasters. Oh, wait. We've already seen how well they handle natural disasters. Don't hold out hope that they've got a real plan for Avian flu.

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