Mapping Terror

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One of the worst-appreciated points in the debate over national security policy is that the Bush administration's post-9/11 policies shouldn't be understood as counterterrorism measures that have, in some sense or another, "gone too far." Rather, we need to grasp that they've been wholly ineffective and, as best one can tell, merely made things worse. The fact that George Bush's invasion of Iraq has killed more Americans than Osama bin Laden's airplane hijacking is one illustration of the point. Another would be this map I've borrowed from the Center for American Progress team. The blue marks are pre-9/11 terrorist attacks, the yellow ones are between 9/11 and Iraq, and the red ones are post-Iraq attacks. Iraq and Afghanistan are just marked in red rather than trying to make pins for each attack in those unfortunately countries.

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A study conducted by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, research fellows at the Center on Law and Security at the NYU School of Law, found that there was a 607 percent rise in the average yearly incidence of attacks (28.3 attacks per year before and 199.8 after) since the Iraq invasion. When Iraq and Afghanistan, which together account for 80 percent of attacks and 67 percent of fatalities, were excluded, there was still a 35 percent per year increase in the number of jihadist terrorist attacks.

At this point, obviously, we can't fix the problem with a time machine, but it sure would be nice.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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