US Terrorism Report: Selective Data, Wrong Lessons
The data provided in the US State Department's annual terrorism report for 2007 points to some interesting if puzzling conclusions. The much publicised document, made available 30 April via the State Department's website, makes no secret of the fact that Al-Qaeda is back, strong as ever. It also suggests that violence worldwide is nowhere near subsiding, despite President Bush's repeated assurances regarding the success of his "war on terror".
Will the report inspire serious reflection on the
Let's look at some of the data. To start with, take
There have also been many other violent incidents around the world, including but not limited to North Africa, the terrorist bombings in
But this is barely half the story -- or 40 per cent of it, if we want to be as specific as the terrorism report.
Considering the fact that the horrifying violence currently witnessed in
On 1 May 2003, President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in
Instead, more than five years after Bush's speech, the administration seems determined to maintain a military surge, having added 20,000 soldiers. Making no apologies for the war's contribution to an increase in terrorist activities, Bush's officials continue to rationalise the surge as a commonsense response to ongoing violence, conveniently omitting the
Russ Travers, deputy director of the Counterterrorism Centre, stated on the day the report was published, "It's a fair statement that around the globe people are getting increasingly efficient at killing other people." While Travers' assertion is undoubtedly true, there seems to be no intention of providing any context, no connection drawn to the
But what the State Department's terrorism report didn't fail to do was once again identify
The irony is that the report further contributes to the
It also remains unclear how powerful Al-Qaeda really is, and how much of its capabilities were hyped in order to enable the Bush administration to continue its mission. Consider the two occasions Al-Qaeda was back in the news recently.
News media cited official Afghani reports attributing the recent assassination attempt on US-ally Afghani President Hamid Karzai to Al-Qaeda. In other reports, the
Moreover, if Al-Qaeda indeed exists on such a large and influential scale in so many countries, isn't it time to question the logic used by the Bush administration's "war on terror" that was meant to weaken and destroy Al- Qaeda in the first place?
It may be, of course, that Al-Qaeda's power and outreach is inflated for political reasons, where every conflict the
Instead of dealing with the obvious truths that the terrorism report highlights, the authors of the report have resorted to another logic that places blame squarely on external circumstance, never holding the
Finally, is there really a need for lengthy reports that cost large sums of money and thousands of work hours if the lessons gleaned are always the wrong ones, leading to more blunders that prompt more violence, and more terrorism reports?
Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press,