Has the Iraq War made America safer?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
David Petraeus, PhD, US General and Commander of US Central Command, stated in an exchange with then US Senator John Warner (R-VA) at a Sep. 11, 2007 US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing:

"[John] Warner: ...Are you able to say at this time, if we continue what you have laid before the Congress, this strategy, that if you continue, you are making America safer?

[David] Petraeus: Sir, I believe that this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objections in Iraq.

Warner: Does that make America safer?

Petraeus: Sir, I don't know actually. I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind. What I have focused on and been riveted on is how to accomplish the mission of the Multinational Force in Iraq."

Sep. 11, 2007 - David Petraeus 

PRO (yes)

Condoleezza Rice, PhD, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor at the time of the quote, stated in a July 16, 2004 USA Today article titled "U.S. and World Clearly Are Safer":

"Our efforts in Iraq have been critical to success in the global war on terror... As democracy gains in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are reminded that no democratic nation in the world threatens America. Saddam's removal has advanced peace and democracy throughout the broader Middle East. America and the world are clearly safer with this tyrant in the jail cell he has earned."

July 16, 2004 - Condoleezza Rice, PhD 

The National Intelligence Council, in its Sep. 2006 report titled "9/11 Five Years Later: Successes and Challenges," stated:

"...Before 9/11, Iraq was a designated state sponsor of terrorism, ruled by a tyrant, believed to hold weapons of mass destruction and was in violation of United Nations resolutions and sanctions.

Today, Iraq is off the state sponsors list, governed by a duly elected representative government, and working to be fully integrated with the international community and a partner in the United Nations....

Though America and its allies are safer as a result of these achievements, we are not yet safe."

Sep. 2006 - National Intelligence Council 

Joseph Lieberman, LLB, US Senator (ID-CT), on Jan. 24, 2004 responded to the question "Is America safer with the war in Iraq and the capture of Saddam?" as posed by The Greenville News:

"Absolutely. I supported the war to remove Saddam - in fact, I supported removing him for a full decade before George W. Bush entered office - because I believed that he was a danger to the United States, to his own people, to the region, and to the world."

Jan. 24, 2004 - Joe Lieberman, LLB 

The Republican National Committee, in its "2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America," stated:

"Today, because America and our coalition helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we are helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, 25 million Iraqis are free and the American people are safer...

While the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction we expected to find in Iraq have not yet materialized, we have confirmed that Saddam Hussein had the capability to reconstitute his weapons programs and the desire to do so.

Our nation did the right thing, and the American people are now safer because we and our allies ended the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, halting his decades-long pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons."

2004 - Republican National Committee 

Gary J. Schmitt, PhD, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, stated in a Sep. 11, 2005 Dallas Morning News article titled "Has the Iraq War Made Us Safer?":

"Whether it is a question of WMDs or support for terrorism, Saddam's Iraq was a ticking time bomb, and we are safer for having gotten rid of him. In fact, despite the very substantial difficulties we face today in Iraq, the question to be asked is not simply whether we are safer today for having removed Saddam Hussein from power, but just how safe would we have been in the future if we hadn't?"

Sep. 11, 2005 - Gary J. Schmitt, PhD 

Scott McClellan, then Press Secretary for President George W. Bush, stated in a Dec. 16, 2003 press briefing:

"The bottom line is that the world is safer and better without Saddam Hussein in power. America is more secure because of the decisive action that the United States took, along with our coalition partners, to remove his regime from power. And the Iraqi people have been liberated, and the Iraqi people, I think will let you know that they are grateful for our efforts."

Dec. 16, 2003 - Scott McClellan 

Christopher Hitchens, author of A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, in a Nov. 5, 2003 debate with Mark Danner, Staff Writer for the New Yorker, said the following in response to the question "Has Bush made us safer?":

"Yes, you are safer for the disarmament of Iraq...Yes, you are safer, for the coming disarmament of Iran. Yes you are safer for the physical destruction of the Taliban-Bin Laden regime in Kabul. And yes you have President Bush to thank for it, and not President Clinton, and not [CIA head] George Tenet, and not the FBI. All of them allowed these developments to occur and left us defenseless in our hometowns under open skies."

Nov. 5, 2003 - Christopher Hitchens 

CON (no)

Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader (D-CA) of the US House of Representatives, stated in a June 20, 2005 speech "This War in Iraq Is a Grotesque Mistake; It Is Not Making America Safer" from the House floor:

"This is a war that each passing day confirms what I have said before and I will say again. This war in Iraq is a grotesque mistake; it is not making America safer, and the American people know it."

June 20, 2005 - Nancy Pelosi 

Robert Hutchings, PhD, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, in a Sep. 25, 2006 interview with Renee Montagne on National Public Radio (NPR) News, commented on the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate:

"MONTAGNE: The [2006] intelligence report finds the war in Iraq has fueled a new generation of islamist radicals who have spread across the globe…

The National Intelligence Estimate is, by definition, a consensus report of America's sixteen intelligence services. Does this mean that all of the directors of all of the U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the war in Iraq has made America less safe?

HUTCHINGS: Well, that appears to be the case. There are sometimes dissenting voices or dissenting opinions on these estimates...it, apparently, it was a consensus view, and it doesn't, frankly, it doesn't surprise me."

Sep. 25, 2006 - National Intelligence Estimate 2006 (68 KB)  
Robert L. Hutchings, PhD 

Robert C. Byrd, JD, US Senator (D-WV), stated in his Apr. 29, 2004 remarks titled "Mission Not Accomplished in Iraq":

"One year after the 'mission accomplished' speech, is America safer? We have not secured our homeland from terrifying threats of destruction. This President has sown divisions in our long-standing alliances. He has squandered our treasure in Iraq and put us deep in debt. Our brave soldiers are pinned down in Iraq while our enemies see the invincible American armor as penetrable by the sword of urban guerrilla warfare. No, America is not safer."

Apr. 29, 2004 - Robert C. Byrd, JD 

Newsweek magazine conducted three polls from 2005 to 2007 to find American perspectives on whether the Iraq War has or has not made Americans safer from terrorism. Each poll has a +/- 4% margin of error.

Poll Date
# Polled
(adults aged 18 and over)
Has Made Safer
Has Not Made Safer
Don't Know
Jan. 17-18, 2007
Oct. 5-6, 2006
Aug. 2-4, 2005

2005 to 2007 - Newsweek 

Robert Kuttner, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The American Prospect, stated in his Mar. 31, 2004 Boston Globe article titled "The Failure to Keep America Safe":

"The failure to protect the United States against terrorism is ongoing and directly related to Iraq. The Iraq detour has set back America's security in at least five mutually reinforcing ways.

First, the war distracted top officials from domestic preparedness, which remains in organizational chaos...

Second, the war diverted resources -- regular troops, commandos, Arab-speaking analysts, and Predator spy missiles, which otherwise might have been deployed to tighten the noose around Al Qaeda in Afghanistan...

Third, Iraq replicated the very scene that triggered Osama bin Laden's holy war in the first place -- the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War...

Fourth, despite blather about a 'forward strategy' to advance democracy, the invasion of Iraq significantly reduced American leverage against Syria and Iran...

Finally, the war undermined foreign cooperation against terrorists."

Mar. 31, 2004 - Robert Kuttner 

Ehren Watada, US Army First Lieutenant, stated in a June 2, 2006 Yahoo! News article titled "Conscientious Rejector?":

"You know, what I'm doing is for the soldiers. I'm trying to end something that is criminal, something that should not have been started in the first place and something that is making America less safe — and that is the Iraq war.

By just going there and being willing to participate, and doing my job, or whatever I'm told to do — which actually exacerbates the situation and makes it worse — I would not be serving the best interest of this country, nor the soldiers that I'm serving with. What I'm trying to do is end something, as I said, that's illegal, and immoral, so that all the soldiers can come home and this tragedy can come to an end."

June 2, 2006 - Ehren Watada 

Mark Danner, Staff Writer for the New Yorker, in a Nov. 5, 2003 debate with Christopher Hitchens, responded to the question "Has Bush made us safer?":

"...the goal in Iraq is not simply to get out, but to leave a government that is stable, that doesn't threaten the country. I'm not going to stand here and say we should get out of Iraq. I don't think we can get out of Iraq. But I also don't see the solution that would make the United States and everybody in this room and everybody we know and cherish more secure, safer."

Nov. 5, 2003 - Mark Danner