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Measuring Success and Failure in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism – U.S. Government Metrics and the Global War on Terror


Measuring Success and Failure in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism – U.S. Government Metrics and the Global War on Terror

Abstract: 

Eight years into the Global War on Terror or the ‘Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism’ as the Pentagon tried to rename it in vain three years ago, the question ‘are the United States and its allies winning the war on terror?’ has been asked so often that one would expect that a unified view would have emerged amongst informed observers by now. Unfortunately, that is not the case. ‘No one knows if we are “winning or losing” the war on terrorism’, said Lee Hamilton, the former vice-chair of the 9/11 commission three years ago – a statement which still accurately sums up the situation today. Within the United States, views regarding success and failure are often polarised along party lines. Internationally, opinion is also undecided. A recent BBC poll, which covered twenty-three countries and involved more than 23,000 adults, found that on average just 10 per cent of those polled held the view that Al-Qa’ida was winning, while 22 percent believed the US was winning, and 47 per cent thought that neither side was winning the conflict between Al-Qa’ida and the United States. The predominant view that neither side was winning the conflict was held by populations in fifteen out of the twenty-three polled nations. Yet at the same time it is unclear what these opinions are really based upon.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Schmid, Alex P. and Rashmi Singh. 2009. "Measuring Success and Failure in Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism – U.S. Government Metrics and the Global War on Terror." In After the War on Terror: Regional and Multilateral Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism Strategy, eds. Alex P. Schmid and Garry F. Hindle. London: RUSI Books, 33-61. https://rusi.org/rusi-news/after-war-terror

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Rashmi Singh
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