Here's a post at BTC News about the number of terror incidents reported in recent years. (Via Atrios)
It is an interesting post about the numbers and how they are arrived at. As with all statistics there are many possible data sources and Terrorist Attack has to be defined in certain terms in order to create an accurate picture. There is some debate about how things are defined and depending on how the statistic is defined we get different pictures of the situation. This isn't really surprising and I will leave this whole debate to people who know more about international terrorism than I do.
I would like to point out the final paragraph though under the graph
"The axis labels on this graph are hard to read, but the terrorism rate decerases steadily through Clinton's second term, bottoming out in the year 2000, and then it rises again dramatically. I think this graphis one of the best ilustrations I've seen yet of the difference between what Karl Rove described as the "liberal" and "conservative" approaches to combatting terrorism."
The graph itself shows a steady decline in terrorist attacks until 2000 and then they rise again quickly.
This final paragraph is one of the best illustrations I've seen yet of how not to use statistics. Though some may disagree with me I do not think that the President of the U.S. has that much of an affect on terrorism and this graph is not convincing evidence.
This graph and the conclusions drawn by the writer of this article is a great example of the thing that I must have explained 5 times in every lab I taught during college. Correlation does not imply Causation. Just because two things LOOK related does not mean that they ARE. There are mediating factors, one big one being the economy. It is my humble opinion that a less thriving economic athmosphere in the world could result in larger numbers of unhappy people who think it is a good idea to blow things up. And besides the economic factors there are any number of political and sociological factors that could have contributed to the sudden increase in terrorism. Some of these things may relate to US Foreign Policy and some of them may not.
For liberals to imply that the sudden rise in terrorism during Bush's term in office is because of conservative policies is simply false. Just like it is incorrect for conservatives to imply that the sudden increase is due to the Liberal policy of placating them until they gained enough power to strike hard and fast.
Just because I go to the bathroom everytime I'm in the bathroom doesn't mean that the bathroom causes me to pee. Get it? There are other factors at work here besides who is President. To discover what they are will require a much more detailed analysis of the terrorist activity levels, events leading up to 2000 and who exactly the terrorists are that are committing these acts. And even then we will still be guessing about what caused it.
I'll tell you whose fault it really is, the damned terrorists.