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.
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 President 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 President 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 U.S. allies in the war against terrorism - specifically Pakistan - are not as steadfast as Americans had hoped.
The very 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.