Measuring Victory In The War On Terror


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[First published September 12, 2005] During World War II, one could measure the progress of the war by the territories taken from the enemy, and the change in the front lines. So far, we have no such measure of our war on terror. I will now offer one.

Assumption 1: free countries — liberal democracies — do not sponsor terrorism or support it against other free countries.
Assumption 2: if the whole world were liberal democratic, terrorism would be defeated in that:
2a. They would not have a support base
2b. The remaining isolated gangs of terrorists would be treated as criminals.
2c.Democracies would combine forces to defeat those that remain, e.g., in the Philippines

Therefore, the progress of global liberal democratization measures the progress of the war on terrorism.

Okay, then how to measure the progress of liberal democratization? Freedom House has been rating nations on their freedom since 1972, giving a 1 to 7 rating their civil liberties, and then to their political rights. Adding these two ratings together, a 2 to 4 joint rating is what they define as a free country and what I will define as a liberal democracy. The worst rating on each is a 7, so a joint rating of 14 for a country is what they define as an unfree country and what I call totalitarian. See their ratings over the years here.

To get my democratization score, I will do this:

Take the average of the civil liberties and political rights rating for each country for each year. For a liberal democracy, this will average to 1 or 2, and to 6 or 7 for the worst unfree countries.

Then I will average all these averages across all countries for a year. If all countries are liberal democracies in a year, the average of the averages will be no greater than 2; if all counties were unfree for a year, the average of the averages would be greater than 6.

A problem is that I want to measure increasing democratization, but increasing democratization is so far measured by decreasing average ratings. So, to get the measurement moving in the proper direction, I will subtract each average of the averages from 7, the maximum possible. I will call the result the modified ratings. Then the modified 0 to 1 rating will mean all countries are unfree for a year, while 5 to 6 will mean all are liberal democratic.

With this understanding, I plotted the modified ratings in the figure below. I have set it up so that it is easy to see the progress in democratization, and thus by my assumptions, the current progress in the war on terror. I have fitted various trend estimates to the plot, such as a log, or polynomial fit, but all agree with what you can see. The trend line is up, and if it continues this way the world will be democratic in 3 or 4 decades, or liberally democratic in about two or three decades after that (to fit an equation just to determine the exact number of years to democracy or liberal democracy would be misplaced precision, given the uncertainties involved).

From now on, I will try to do this table year-by-year as a measure of the progress of the war on terror [not done, but will do in a new blog when I complete republishing these old blogs several months from now], not to mention the fulfillment of the democratic peace in the ending of war, democide, famine, and mass impoverishment.


Link of Day

“Of Minds and Metrics,” By Michael Barone (8/29/05)

Barone says:

Metrics are hard to come by in the war on terrorism. We can know the number of improvised explosive devices that go off in Iraq and the number of suicide bombers there, but we can only guess at whether these numbers represent the last throes of a terrorist movement or its continuing growth. We can count the number of days the Iraqi parliament has moved the deadline for drafting a constitution–seven, as this is written–but cannot be sure what the effect of a finally drafted constitution will be. We can note that some 220,000 Iraqis took part in deliberations over the constitution and that the Iraqi electricity supply now exceeds that of prewar levels.

Written with the excellence I’ve come to expect from Barone


Links I Must Share

“Reassessing the war on terror” By Harlan Ullman:

: Several weeks ago, the Pentagon led an attempt to rename President Bush’s global war on terror as the global struggle against violent extremism. Many commentators took this effort as a sign of a policy reassessment within the administration. But the name change was stillborn by the president himself, who in a subsequent speech pointedly referred to the global war on terror more than a dozen times.

A shallow analysis that lives up to my expectations.

” StrategyPage Looks At War on Terror Metrics”:

. . . discusses US strategy in the war on terror and then addresses the difficulty of measuring success in this intricate war.”

This is Austin Bay’s blog, and this article is informative and worth reading.

” Scoring the war on terrorism”:Presents five measures of success and concludes:

There is no easy long-term strategy that guarantees success. Instead, the United States and its allies must accept the inevitability of a large, global movement bent on murder as a form of political expression. With skill and energy; we can beat it back. Outright defeat will be far harder. That may depend ultimately on the proverbial draining of the political swamp. But by any measure it is a very large swamp.

RJR: another important article to make time for.

Democratic Peace Clock
More on the progress of
democracy via a clock

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