By Teresa Welsh |
To paraphrase a famous election-year question, "Is American safer now than it was four years ago?" Emphatically, yes.
We are safer at home, safer overseas, and our national power and position in the world are largely unthreatened. Our soldiers are no longer in harm's way in Iraq, thanks to the fulfillment of a promise by the president. We are on a timetable to draw down U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 2014, and our allies and the Afghan police and military are carrying an increasing share of the burden, even if the security status there is somewhat dubious. Despite some rattling of sabers by Iran and scattered incidents of maritime piracy and terrorism, the U.S. military is still without peer or challenger.
The president has continued a war against al Qaeda that he inherited, and he has increased the intensity of that war, using UAV strikes and special forces raids. The killing of Osama bin Laden is only one symbol of the successes of the wider fight—one that the U.S. and its allies are winning, as the remnant of al Qaeda struggles to remain relevant amid the political awakening in much of the Islamic world.
In the area most visible to many Americans, security in our skies, we are, sadly, no safer. Despite spending billions of dollars per year, the TSA and Department of Homeland Security for the most part continue to offer only the appearance of security, rather than effective, efficient security. The president, like his predecessor, may take credit for the absence of any successful attack, but this is likely the result of our luck and our enemy's ineptitude, rather than of millions of us taking off our shoes and throwing away our water bottles.
Finally, as Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told Congress in February 2009, our national security was most threatened by the financial crisis. The recovery may be unsteady, but we are immeasurably safer today than four years ago. The president took steps that most economists agree prevented a global depression, and his policies have resulted in a safer world, not just a safer United States.
With our troops still at war in Afghanistan, and threats from nuclear Iran and North Korea, the president's policies are being criticized, and he is still being attacked personally. Our country would be safer, still, if the opposition were a loyal one, and the discourse more civil.
About Lawrence Husick Co-chairman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute's Center for the Study of Terrorism
James Jay Carafano Director of the Heritage Foundation's Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies
Nathan Sales Law Professor at George Mason University School of Law
William F. Daddio Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University