As Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation, President Barack Obama urged us to think about how much more secure we are now. Well, yes and no. On the night of Sept. 11 this year, the American Ambassador to Libya and four other Americans were brutally murdered.
And a strictly nonpartisan evaluation of national security makes it clear we are safer in some ways - but face new perils and have failed to deal with some old ones.
As Obama stresses, the al-Qaida terrorist network has suffered setbacks, including the death of Osama bin Laden, during the past couple of years.
But in the Middle East and Africa, al-Qaida and other Islamic extremist groups appear quite strong, as evidenced by periodic attacks. In Afghanistan, the Taliban who once provided a safe haven for bin Laden, are staging a comeback. In part because Obama has declared U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan no later than 2014, the Taliban know they need only survive until then in order to be poised for a new offensive to regain control of the country. Other concerns include safety at U.S. seaports, where only a fraction of imported cargoes are inspected.
Finally, some allies in the war against terrorism - specifically Pakistan -are not as steadfast as Americans had hoped. The failure of terrorists to mount major attacks in the United States since 9/11 is proof of progress. Again, however, much remains to be done to ensure Americans remain secure against those who would destroy us.