Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Drilling Won't Help...But Do it Anyway

Although the economic facts support those opposed to drilling, I still think we should open up ANWR and maybe the OCS to drilling, if that's what it takes to get Republicans to support more tax credits and investments for alternative energy. And 20 years from now, when gas prices haven't gone down thanks to increased domestic drilling, maybe we will recall this debate, and acknowledge who was serving the American people, and who was serving Big Oil.

Will More Drilling Mean Cheaper Gas?
By Bryan Walsh
June 18, 2008 |

On Wednesday morning President George W. Bush urged Congress to overturn a 26-year ban on offshore oil drilling in the U.S. and open a part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to petroleum exploration. Flanked by the secretaries of Energy and the Interior, Bush also proposed streamlining the construction process for new oil refineries, and explained that these moves would "take pressure off gas prices over time by expanding the amount of American-made oil and gasoline." Coming a day after Republican presumptive presidential nominee John McCain made a similar appeal to enhance domestic oil exploration, Bush was sending an unsubtle election-year message to the American public: I care about the economic toll of $4-a-gallon gas, and Democrats in Congress, who have opposed such an expansion, don't.

But there's a flaw in that logic: even if tomorrow we opened up every square mile of the outer continental shelf to offshore rigs, even if we drilled the entire state of Alaska and pulled new refineries out of thin air, the impact on gas prices would be minimal and delayed at best. A 2004 study by the government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that drilling in ANWR would trim the price of gas by 3.5 cents a gallon by 2027. (If oil prices continue to skyrocket, the savings would be greater, but not by much.) Opening up offshore areas to oil exploration — currently all coastal areas save a section of the Gulf of Mexico are off-limits, thanks to a congressional ban enacted in 1982 and supplemented by an executive order from the first President Bush — might cut the price of gas by 3 to 4 cents a gallon at most, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. And the relief at the pump, such as it is, wouldn't be immediate — it would take several years, at least, for the oil to begin to flow, which is time enough for increased demand from China, India and the rest of the world to outpace those relatively meager savings. "Right now the price of oil is set on the global market," says Kevin Lindemer, executive managing director of the energy markets group for the research firm Global Insight. President Bush's move "would not have an impact."

The reason is simple: the U.S. has an estimated 3% of global petroleum reserves but consumes 24% of the world's oil. Offshore territories and public lands like ANWR that don't allow drilling may contain up to 75 billion barrels of oil, according to the EIA. That may sound like a lot, but it's not enough to make a significant difference in a world where global oil demand is expected to rise 30% by 2030, to nearly 120 million barrels a day. At best, greatly expanding domestic drilling might eventually lower the proportion of oil the U.S. imports — currently about 60% of its total supply — but petroleum is a global commodity, and the world market would soak up any additional American production. "This is a drop in the bucket," says Gernot Wagner, an economist with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Still, with Americans hurting at the pump, it may be difficult for environmentalists and other opponents of increased domestic drilling to resist the push for more oil, whatever the cost. As recently as his 2000 presidential run, McCain had been against offshore drilling, but he changed that position Tuesday, arguing that individual states should decide for themselves. (He remains against drilling ANWR, however, pointing out that "we called it a 'refuge' for a reason.' ") The Republican Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist — considered a possible vice-presidential candidate — also flip-flopped, backing McCain's position. Though Democratic Senator Barack Obama and most of his party are against the proposed expansion, McCain and his supporters may have the public on their side: a recent Gallup poll found that 57% of Americans believe we should open up new territories to drilling. "It could help in the long term," says Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University. Still, he acknowledges that even expanded drilling is unlikely to bring prices down much.

Though offshore drilling conjures up fears of catastrophic spills, the petroleum industry rightly argues that safety measures have improved considerably in recent years. A 2003 report by the National Research Council found that only 1% of the oil that polluted U.S. waters came from petroleum operations, like the offshore drilling platforms that run in the Gulf of Mexico — which also weathered Hurricane Katrina without massive spills. If it can be done in an environmentally friendly fashion — and with oil companies themselves footing the bill — opening up some new territory to drilling might be worth it. The reality is that our economy will run on petroleum for the foreseeable future, and that while investing in alternatives is the only way to secure truly low-cost energy over the long term, we'll still need oil for decades more. But any attempt to increase supply must be coupled with even heavier investment in energy efficiency and other methods to decrease oil demand — an approach that, to his credit, McCain has said will be a key part of his energy policy (although in the Senate he has skipped or voted against every fuel efficiency bill since 1990, according to the League of Conservation Voters). In any case, Bush's plan is unlikely to be realized — the Democratic-controlled Congress remains against it, and Bush can't open up the new territory on his own.

ively small amount of petroleum, we're missing out on the opportunity to truly break our addiction to crude. This week the Senate again failed to renew the tax credit for renewable energies like solar and wind; the credit, which expires at the end of the year, is key to the healthy growth of low-carbon alternatives. Without it, "the industry will simply stop," says Santiago Seage, CEO of the Spanish company Abengoa Solar. With energy demand skyrocketing, we'll need more oil, and alternatives like solar, and demand-side measures like toughened auto fuel efficiency standards or tax incentives for Americans to purchase less wasteful cars. We'll have to include action on global warming, like the recently defeated Warner-Lieberman carbon cap and trade bill. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that under the bill, U.S. petroleum consumption would have dropped by nearly half by 2030 — savings far in excess of the amount of oil we could ever pull from Alaska or the coasts. "We can't drill our way out of this and we can't conserve our way out either," says Bullock. "We need both." Fair enough. But the sad truth is that neither drilling nor conservation will have an immediate effect on rising gas prices, even if they do have an immediate impact on the presidential race.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Buchanan: Honorable Exit From Empire

Honorable Exit From Empire
By Patrick J. Buchanan
July 25, 2008 |

As any military historian will testify, among the most difficult of maneuvers is the strategic retreat. Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, Lee's retreat to Appomattox and MacArthur's retreat from the Yalu come to mind. The British Empire abandoned India in 1947 -- and a Muslim-Hindu bloodbath ensued.

France's departure from Indochina was ignominious, and her abandonment of hundreds of thousands of faithful Algerians to the FALN disgraceful. Few American can forget the humiliation of Saigon '75, or the boat people, or the Cambodian holocaust.

Strategic retreats that turn into routs are often the result of what Lord Salisbury called "the commonest error in politics ... sticking to the carcass of dead policies."

From 1989 to 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire and breakup of the U.S.S.R., America had an opportunity to lay down its global burden and become again what Jeane Kirkpatrick called "a normal country in a normal time."

We let the opportunity pass by, opting instead to use our wealth and power to convert the world to democratic capitalism. And we have reaped the reward of all the other empires that went before: A sinking currency, relative decline, universal enmity, a series of what Rudyard Kipling called "the savage wars of peace."

Yet, opportunity has come anew for America to shed its imperial burden and become again the republic of our fathers.

The chairman of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang Party has just been hosted for six days by Beijing. Commercial flights have begun between Taipei and the mainland. Is not the time ripe for America to declare our job done, that the relationship between China and Taiwan is no longer a vital interest of the United States?

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government wants a status of forces agreement with a timetable for full withdrawal of U.S. troops. Is it not time to say yes, to declare that full withdrawal is our goal as well, that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq?

On July 4, Reuters, in a story headlined "Poland Rejects U.S. Missile Offer," reported from Warsaw: "Poland spurned as insufficient on Friday a U.S. offer to boost its air defenses in return for basing anti-missile interceptors on its soil. ...

"'We have not reached a satisfactory result on the issue of increasing the level of Polish security,' Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference after studying the latest U.S. proposal."

Tusk is demanding that America "provide billions of dollars worth of U.S. investment to upgrade Polish air defenses in return for hosting 10 two-stage missile interceptors," said Reuters.

Reflect if you will on what is going on here.

By bringing Poland into NATO, we agreed to defend her against the world's largest nation, Russia, with thousands of nuclear weapons. Now the Polish regime is refusing us permission to site 10 anti-missile missiles on Polish soil, unless we pay Poland billions for the privilege.

Has Uncle Sam gone senile?

No. Tusk has Sam figured out. The old boy is so desperate to continue in his Cold War role as world's Defender of Democracy he will even pay the Europeans -- to defend Europe.

Why not tell Tusk that if he wants an air defense system, he can buy it; that we Americans are no longer willing to pay Poland for the privilege of defending Poland; that the anti-missile missile deal is off. And use cancellation of the missile shield to repair relations with a far larger and more important power, Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Consider, too, the opening South Korea is giving us to end our 60-year commitment to defend her against the North. For weeks, Seoul hosted anti-American protests against a trade deal that allows U.S. beef into South Korea. Koreans say they fear mad-cow disease.

Yet, when a new deal was cut to limit imports to U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months old, that too was rejected by the protesters. Behind the demonstrations lies a sediment of anti-Americanism.

In 2002, a Pew Research Center survey of 42 nations found 44 percent of South Koreans, second highest number of any country, holding an unfavorable view of the United States. A Korean survey put the figure at 53 percent, with 80 percent of youth holding a negative view. By 39 percent to 35 percent, South Koreans saw the United States as a greater threat than North Korea.

Can someone explain why we keep 30,000 troops on the DMZ of a nation whose people do not even like us?

The raison d'etre for NATO was the Red Army on the Elbe. It disappeared two decades ago. The Chinese army left North Korea 50 years ago. Yet NATO endures and the U.S. Army stands on the DMZ. Why?

Because, if all U.S. troops were brought home from Europe and Korea, 10,000 rice bowls would be broken. They are the rice bowls of politicians, diplomats, generals, journalists and think tanks who would all have to find another line of work.

And that is why the Empire will endure until disaster befalls it, as it did all the others.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stuff white (liberal, latte-drinking) people like

Interesting op-ed. Of course you should also check out the site under discussion.

#76 "Bottles of Water," #77 "Musical Comedy," #80 "The Idea of Soccer," and #101 "Being Offended" are some of my favorites.

As Homer Simpson observed, "Ha ha, it's true, it's true. We're so lame!"

The White Stuff
By Samhita Mukhopadhyay
July 11, 2008 | American Prospect

Taliban, warlords resurgent in Afghanistan

The opportunity cost of the 'surge' in Iraq is a dire lack of troops to fight the resurgent Taliban, and now, tribal warlords in Afghanistan.

Afghan Warlords, Formerly Backed By the CIA, Now Turn Their Guns on U.S. Troops
By Anna Mulrine
July 11, 2008 | U.S. News & World Report


'U.S. forces are keenly aware that they are facing an increasingly complex enemy here—what U.S. military officials now call a syndicate—composed not only of Taliban fighters but also powerful warlords who were once on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency. "You could almost describe the insurgency as having two branches," says a senior U.S. military official here. "It's the Taliban in the south and a 'rainbow coalition' in the east."'

'But though the Hekmatyar and Haqqani networks have loose alliances and similar goals, each has its own turf. "They are swimming in the same stream, but they are not unified. There is no Ho Chi Minh," says the U.S. military official. "They have the same broad generic approaches, and it works. The bottom line is that if your only mission is to wreak havoc in Afghanistan, you don't have to be coordinated—and what they're doing is plenty good enough to stir up problems in this country."

'In the course of conducting these operations, insurgents have benefited greatly from the shortage of U.S. and allied troops here, say U.S. officials. Earlier this month, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that he is "deeply troubled" by the increasing violence in Afghanistan but emphasized that troop levels in Iraq precluded a further increase in forces. "We need more troops there," he said in Washington. "But I don't have the troops I can reach for."'

Bush gives Israel 'amber light' to attack Iran

This is serious, scary stuff. And it's all intertwined with domestic politics in the U.S., Israel, and even Iran: a change of leadership looms in all three countries. (Olmert and Ahmadinejad are both unpopular at home and likely to be unelected; and rattling the saber is often a good way to hang onto power a little longer).

The problem for America is that, even if we don't aid the Israelis with our air bases or satellite intelligence, nobody will clear us of complicity in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran. Everybody knows that Israel won't act without Bush's go-ahead.

Even worse, as this article concludes, even if Israel does decide to "act alone," it may not be capable of wiping out all of Iran's possible nuclear sites without U.S. help. Then Bush-Cheney would be sorely tempted to step in and finish the job.

I see one possible way around this problem, and it would be a real re-making of the Mideast: a complete halt to all U.S. military aid to Israel. The first message of such a step would be: "Israel, you're on your own now." For Israel is certainly capable of defending itself without U.S. help. At the very least, it's capable of buying U.S.-made weapons on the open market at market prices. The second message of a cut-off of U.S. aid would be: "America takes no responsibility for Israel's military actions against Iran, or in the Palestinian territories." As a strong, democratic, sovereign nation, it would finally be Israel's prerogative to decide for itself issues related to its own safety. Israel would probably do some unsavory things that we wouldn't agree with, but... don't they already? For instance, when Condoleeza Rice called for temporary cessation of hostilities during U.S.-initiated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Olmert ignored her, terribly hurting U.S. credibility.

For sure, America couldn't disentangle itself from Israel overnight, but halting the $ billions of military aid that we send every year to Israel would be a good start. It would also bolster our credibility as an "honest broker" in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, should we choose to continue pushing for peace.

Finally, this is not to say that America couldn't or shouldn't come to Israel's aid if Israel faced an existential crisis. Indeed, America would probably come to the aid of any democratic, Western-oriented country if it faced annihilation from an aggressor.

President George W Bush Backs Israeli Plan for Strike on Iran
By Uzi Mahnaimi
July 13, 2008 | The Times Online


'Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an "amber light" to an Israeli plan to attack Iran's main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.'

'"It's really all down to the Israelis," the Pentagon official added. "This administration will not attack Iran. This has already been decided. But the president is really preoccupied with the nuclear threat against Israel and I know he doesn't believe that anything but force will deter Iran."'

'Senator Barack Obama's previous opposition to the war in Iraq, and his apparent doubts about the urgency of the Iranian threat, have intensified pressure on the Israeli hawks to act before November's US presidential election. "If I were an Israeli I wouldn't wait," the Pentagon official added.'

'Yet US officials acknowledge that no American president can afford to remain idle if Israel is threatened. How genuine the Iranian threat is was the subject of intense debate last week, with some analysts arguing that Iran might have a useable nuclear weapon by next spring and others convinced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is engaged in a dangerous game of bluffing — mainly to impress a domestic Iranian audience that is struggling with economic setbacks and beginning to question his leadership.'

'"Maybe the Israelis could start off the attack and have us finish it off," Katzman added. "And maybe that has been their intention all along. But in terms of the long-term military campaign that would be needed to permanently suppress Iran's nuclear programme, only the US is perceived as having that capability right now."'

Truth's out: 9/11 was preventable

The Real-Life '24' of Summer 2008
By Frank Rich
July 13, 2008 | New York Times


'By March 2000, according to the C.I.A.'s inspector general, "50 or 60 individuals" in the agency knew that two Al Qaeda suspects — soon to be hijackers — were in America. But there was no urgency at the top. Thomas Pickard, the acting F.B.I. director that summer, told Ms. Mayer that when he expressed his fears about the Qaeda threat to Mr. Ashcroft, the attorney general snapped, '"I don't want to hear about that anymore!"'

Thursday, July 10, 2008

U.S. rejects withdrawal timeline

US rejects Iraqi demand for troops' withdrawal timeline

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States on Tuesday rejected a demand from Iraq for a specific date for pullout of US-led foreign troops from the country, saying any withdrawal will be based on conditions on the ground.

"The US government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we, the US government, we want to withdraw, we will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.

Iraq said on Tuesday it will reject any security pact with the United States unless it sets a date for the pullout of US-led troops.

"We will not accept any memorandum of understanding if it does not give a specific date for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops," national security advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie told reporters in the holy city of Najaf.

The controversial demand from Baghdad's Shiite-led government underlines Iraq's new hardened stand in complex negotiations aimed at striking a security deal with Washington.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iraq wants timetable for U.S. withdrawal

If Bush were smart, he'd take this horse and run with it! Let him say that "democratic Iraq" is asking the U.S. for a timetable for withdrawal (not vice-versa, as the Democrats want) and he's respecting their sovereign will. This would let Bush reverse his policy without admitting as much, thus saving face.

BTW, if Bush negotiated a withdrawal timetable, he would really take the electoral wind out of Obama's sails, plus Bush could pad his iffy legacy by starting the war, and negotiating an end to it. In real terms, it would probably change nothing, as Bush & McCain could later claim that any timetable is contingent on security targets being met, which the U.S. must measure, blah, blah,blah. Nevertheless, it could be one of those perfect symbolic political gestures that saves the day for the GOP. But I think Bush is too dumb & stubborn to seize this opportunity. Conceivably, the Bush Administration could be putting al-Maliki up to this; but I don't give them credit for being so smart, or flexible.

Iraq Raises Idea of Timetable for U.S. Withdrawal
By Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sebastian Abbot
July 7, 2008 | Associated Press

Friday, July 4, 2008

Taibbi: "Hillary's flabby" = I want my mom?

"I mean, wow," this is a great compendium by Taibbi of his own physical taunts of people who, having chosen to prostitute themselves in the public domain, don't deserve any of our usual pity. Can't believe I missed it in April.

Bush-McCain: All balls, no brains against terrorists

I've said all of this before, but it bears repeating over and over again, because obviously McCain, like many Americans, doesn't understand the fight we're in. McCain is apparently just like Bush: all balls and no brains.

To say that some bearded loonies hiding in caves pose an existential threat to America, and the most dangerous and sophisticated army in history, is ludicrous. Al Qaeda vs. the United States isn't David vs. Goliath; it's like David vs. the entire Philistine army. As long as the Philistines don't throw down their spears and run for the hills of Judah screaming like girls, they're going to win.

I would get stoned to death for speaking such heresy on FOXNews, but... the truth is, we should treat al Qaeda like the petty nuisance they are. On an official level, we should ignore them, we should hardly mention them; meanwhile, unofficially, we should squash them like the mosquitoes they are wherever we find them. Our entire "war" against al Qaeda should never be publicized or played up. It should all be done on the DL. That's the smart way to fight. The dumb way to fight is to tell every disaffected Muslim the world over that al Qaeda is a worthy foe, a counterweight, to the mighty United States. That's the greatest terrorist recruitment promotion ever, courtesy of Uncle Sam. No, if we must if we talk about al Qaeda at all -- which we shouldn't -- it should only be to make fun of them and diminish them, making it clear to the world that nothing that al Qaeda could possibly dream up would ever move us one inch.

That's the kind of toughness America needs right now, not this constant fear-mongering and nail-biting from the Administration, which always reminds us to be afraid.

McCain: Noun, Verb, Terrorism
By Paul Waldman
July 1, 2008 | American Prospect

John McCain's campaign has a problem: it just doesn't have much to talk about. According to the latest polls by Fortune magazine what the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy is, McCain answered, "Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences."
Putting aside the question of whether there might be more serious threats to the economy (The housing meltdown? Exploding gas prices?), it's hard to avoid the conclusion that anyone who thinks that Islamic terrorists might succeed in literally destroying America -- "our very existence," as McCain says -- is either a certifiable paranoiac or a complete fool. Given that, it is remarkable how often McCain asserts that Barack Obama "doesn't understand" terrorism, as though unlike McCain, Obama just hasn't spent enough time studying up. And one might forget that McCain himself represents our modern Know-Nothings, the party that pours contempt on intellectuals, that fetishizes the abdication of thought, that for eight years has supported and defended a president who proudly proclaims that he listens only to his gut.
McCain would have you believe that the difference between him and Obama is that he has some wealth of knowledge on which he draws, that his understanding of terrorism is deep and complex, so multi-layered that only he can guide us through the conflict with al-Qaeda. Like Kasparov surveying a chess board, McCain knows what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen, the possibilities and consequences of every potential move spooling across his brain at lightning speed.
So what if he thinks that Iran is training members of al-Qaeda? Details, details. What are you, some kind of pinhead elitist?
When he was campaigning for George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, one of McCain's favorite tricks was to laud Bush for his "moral clarity and firm resolve" in fighting the war on terror. It may seem like a long time ago now, but in the aftermath of September 11, "moral clarity" became an oft-repeated catchphrase among conservatives.
It meant the willingness to cast off nuance (the crutch of weak, pathetic liberals), not worry about whether we might be better able to fight our enemies if we knew as much as possible about them, and get right down to kicking ass. In a world of "moral clarity," there are good guys and bad guys, and the bad guys are going to get what's coming to them.
McCain continues to embody Bush's worst impulses on terrorism, not least his stubborn refusal to grasp even the most basic facts about terrorist organizations. So let's ask: What would al-Qaeda like America to do in the next few years? What would serve its goals? A few things are obvious. It would like us to stay in Iraq, both because it offers its members a place to practice planning and carrying out terrorist acts, and because it sustains anti-American feeling in the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda would also like the American government to maintain as bellicose a posture as possible, rattling its sword and threatening further military actions against Muslim countries.
Next, al-Qaeada would like to see the American president continue to proclaim that it is America's top enemy in the world, one so powerful and menacing that if the land of the free doesn't play its cards right, America might actually be destroyed. This kind of rhetoric not only elevates al-Qaeda's importance but guarantees that those who feel bitterness toward America turn toward bin Laden and Zawahiri as, if not their representatives, then at least their allies.
Bush has done all of this, and McCain promises to do more. It is difficult to overstate the degree to which Bush has done Osama bin Laden's bidding over the last seven years -- from allowing him to escape at Tora Bora, to delivering the quagmire bin Laden had hoped to create in Afghanistan (albeit a few hundred miles away in Iraq), to destroying America's moral authority by embracing the use of torture as official policy, to characterizing the conflict as an epic war of civilizations. When bin Laden released a new videotape just before the 2004 election, he knew exactly what he was doing: By shaking his fist at America, he reinforced every argument Bush was making, helping to ensure that their symbiosis would be renewed for another term. The video might as well have ended with, "I'm Osama bin Laden, and I approve this message. Vote Bush!"
When pressed about the fact that the Iraq War is helping al-Qaeda, both Bush and McCain offer some variation of the idea that Iraq is the "central front in the war on terror," the place where the battle will be won or lost. There is no doubt that Iraq is a wound that continues to seep its infected puss over the entirety of our foreign policy and security efforts. But even if we left tomorrow, and even if we caught bin Laden and the rest of the group's leadership, there would still be tremendous work to be done. Al-Qaeda itself has transformed from an organization into a movement, and terrorism in general is becoming more diffuse, as the State Department's latest annual report on the state of global terrorism points out:
2007 witnessed the continuation of the transition from expeditionary to guerilla terrorism highlighted in Country Reports on Terrorism 2006. Through intermediaries, web-based propaganda, exploitation of local grievances, and subversion of immigrant and expatriate populations, terrorists inspired local cells to carry out attacks which they then exploit for propaganda purposes. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of self-identified groups with links (communications, training, and financial) to AQ leadership in Pakistan. These "guerilla" terrorist groups harbor ambitions of a spectacular attack, including acquisition and use of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
One has to wonder whether McCain believes that terrorist groups that operate in Indonesia or Yemen can be defeated in Iraq. Given the propaganda value of the war and the way al-Qaeda has become a franchise operation, it isn't surprising that the last few years have seen a huge increase in terrorist attacks. The best way to see the history of terrorism in the last few years is with a chart:

There was a spike in 2001 because of the September 11 attacks, but in 2002 and 2003 the numbers were only slightly higher than they had been in the years before. Then the number of people killed by terrorists skyrocketed, to 1,907 in 2004; 6,317 in 2005; 6,572 in 2006; and 9,085 in 2007. And these numbers don't include those killed in acts of terrorism within Iraq itself. (Historical data from the State Department may be found here.)
If Bush and McCain are aware of this trend, it doesn't seem to have had much impact on the way they think about this issue. Ever since September 11, the administration and its allies have acted as though the population of anti-American terrorists in the world is fixed, and if we can just find them and kill them, the threat will disappear. That was the idea behind the "flypaper theory" -- terrorists would be drawn to Mesopotamia, where they could be mowed down by American troops. Problem solved.
Of course, just the opposite happened. For every terrorist we caught or killed, many more were created. The key question for the next president's terrorism policy is what he plans to do about the ocean of anti-Americanism in which terrorists swim. Fail to solve that problem, and al-Qaeda will continue to recruit new members, raise money, and carry out operations, and the number of terrorist attacks will continue to rise.
We've had a seven-year test of the theory that it's better to be feared than loved, and we've seen the results. Perhaps John McCain has a plan to win back the esteem of the world. If so, we ought to hear what it is.

Joint Chiefs: U.S. troops needed for Afghanistan busy in Iraq

A Shotrage of Troops in Afghanistan
Iraq War Limits U.S. Options, Says Chairman of Joint Chiefs

By Josh White
July 3, 2008 | Washington Post