Center for American Progress

Public Understands the “War on Terror” Isn’t Working

Public Understands the “War on Terror” Isn’t Working

The public understands what the CIA knows and the president won’t admit: we’re not winning the war against our terrorist enemies.

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According to a new report from the Central Intelligence Agency, Al Qaeda has managed to rebuild itself to something approaching full strength in Pakistan as the ill-considered war in Iraq grinds on. This will come as no surprise to the American public, which is increasingly convinced that the Bush administration’s self-described “war on terror” is going nowhere—indeed is counterproductive.

Consider this result from a late June CBS poll. As the chart below shows, three-quarters of the public believe that U.S. involvement in Iraq is either creating more terrorists who plan to attack the United States (51 percent) or having no effect on the number of terrorists (24 percent). Just 17 percent think we are eliminating terrorists who might attack the U.S .by being in Iraq.

No wonder only 29 percent believe that we are currently winning the war on terrorism—the lowest level since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to a mid-June Gallop Poll (see below).

The latest news on Al Qaeda’s resurgence dramatically underscores the failure of the Bush administration to prosecute the war against those terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. The news is also likely to further reduce the already low number of Americans who believe administration policies can defeat these terrorists.

For more information on the public opinion on this issue, see:

For More information on the Center’s new strategy for Iraq and the war against terrorist networks, see:

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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