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: The Terrorism Index: A Survey of the U.S. National Security Experts on the War on Terror
Past Event

The Terrorism Index: A Survey of the U.S. National Security Experts on the War on Terror

12:30 - 2:00 PM EDT

Featured Speakers:

David L. Bosco, Senior Editor, Foreign Policy magazine
Dr. Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris; former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, and Adjunct Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University
Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff, Secretary of State Colin Powell (2002-05); Pamela C. Harriman Visiting Professor of Government, College of William & Mary, and Professorial Lecturer in the Honors Program at the George Washington University

Moderated by:

Joseph Cirincione, Senior Vice President for National Security, Center for American Progress

A new survey of U.S. foreign policy experts presents a surprising consensus that questions current policies and assumptions in the war on terror. The survey, conducted jointly by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine, was presented today at a panel discussion.

Featured on the panel were survey participants Dr. Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, and Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell and professor at the College of William & Mary. David Bosco, senior editor of Foreign Policy magazine, joined them along with moderator Joseph Cirincione.

The survey polled 116 foreign policy experts in the first installment of what is intended as a twice-yearly Terrorism Index. Survey participants came from a range of professional and ideological backgrounds, and the results were balanced to give equal weight to those who self-identified as conservative, liberal, and moderate.

The results of the survey provide surprising insights into how experts are viewing the war on terror’s progress. Most experts believe the U.S. is losing the war on terror and that the American people are becoming less safe. Establishing democratic governments in the Muslim world is not widely regarded as a key element in winning the war on terror, and there is a general dissatisfaction with the current effectiveness of government agencies in fighting terrorism.

Questions about current U.S. national security priorities indicate that the experts believe changes are needed. Securing weapons of mass destruction is regarded as more important than fighting terrorism generally. The majority favored increasing funds to the State Department, USAID, and other soft power agencies, while decreasing funding for the military. Most experts also believe that strengthening multilateral institutions should be a higher priority. According to Bosco, the survey tells the U.S. that the “remaining challenges are outside of the military realm.”

Drawing from the survey, the panel offered a variety of conclusions that lead to a spirited debate on national security. Wilkerson noted the “incredible discrepancy in resources” between the Department of Defense and Department of State, and said “that imbalance has perhaps caused some of the problems we are facing.” He emphasized that military force cannot be the first option for all foreign policy problems. “Bombs, bullets, and bayonets,” he said, “are not the answer to terrorism.”

Scheuer, while saying that, “We vastly underestimate the amount of killing left to do,” agreed with the idea that changes are needed in how the U.S. thinks about national security. Both experts said that the war in Iraq has made American security more difficult. “We’re the primary target,” Scheuer said, “because we’re in the way of what the enemy wants to do.” He advocated energy independence as key element in getting out of the way.

Scheuer did emphasize that “America has its future in its own hands,” but said that the security system right now is unsustainable and that changes need to be made. On that point, he seems to agree with the other national security experts surveyed. Wilkerson was certainly among that group. On our current course, he said, we are going to either “commit suicide as a democracy or spend ourselves to death.”

Read Full Transcript



Note: All video provided in QuickTime (MPEG-4) format.


To RSVP, please click here.
Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Sq.        
or Red Line to Metro Center
Questions? Call 202.741.6246
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon.       
Program: 12:30 p.m.- 2:00 p.m.           
Admission is free. 

Center for American Progress
1333 H Street N.W., 10th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20005
Maps and Directions.


David L. Bosco joined Foreign Policy in 2004 as a senior editor responsible for commissioning and editing reviews, feature articles, and essays. He has reported recently from Bosnia and Afghanistan on the peacekeeping missions in those countries. Prior to joining FP, he was an attorney at the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton with a focus on international arbitration, litigation, and antitrust matters. Previously, he researched judicial reform in Chile as a Fulbright Scholar. Between 1996 and 1998, he served as a political analyst and journalist in Bosnia and Herzegovina and as deputy director of a joint United Nations-NATO project on refugee repatriation in Sarajevo. He has provided commentary for such news organizations as CNN, National Public Radio, and Voice of America, and his writings have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal-Europe, The American Prospect, Legal Affairs, and the Washington Quarterly . He received his law degree from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in international relations from Cambridge University, and a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University.

Dr. Michael F. Scheuer is the author of the bestselling Imperial Hubris, which was originally published anonymously, as required by the Central Intelligence Agency. He is also the author of Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America, which was also published anonymously. Before resigning in November 2004, he served as the head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit and worked for nearly two decades in national security issues related to Afghanistan, South Asia, and the Middle East. Scheuer’s writings also have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle,, New York Times, Dallas Morning News, and The Washington Post. Scheuer has been featured on such national television news programs as Meet the Press, Nightline, 60 Minutes, and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer , as well as on international television news programs. Scheuer is an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at Georgetown University, and is a regular contributor to the Jamestown Foundations Terrorism Focus. Scheuer holds a B.A., two M.A.’s, and a Ph.D.

Lawrence Wilkerson is the Pamela C. Harriman Visiting Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary, as well as Professorial Lecturer in the Honors Program at the George Washington University. His last positions in government were as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05), Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff under the directorship of Ambassador Richard N. Haass, and member of that staff responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs(2001-02). Before serving at the State Department, Wilkerson served 31 years in the U.S. Army, including as Deputy Executive Officer to General Colin L. Powell when he was Commander, U.S. Army Forces Command (1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and as Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97). Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 and then worked as an advisor to General Powell.

Joseph Cirincione is the author of Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction (Carnegie Endowment, 2002) and currently serves as the Senior Vice President for National Security at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining the Center, he served as the Senior Associate in and Director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. He is a frequent commentator on proliferation and security issues in the media, and teaches at the Georgetown University Graduate School of Foreign Service. Cirincione worked for nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives: six years on the professional staff of the Committee on Armed Services and three and one-half years on the Committee on Government Operations, and served as staff director of the Military Reform Caucus under Congressmen Tom Ridge and Charles Bennett.