Fifteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the battle against terrorism is far from over. The threat we face today is arguably worse than the one we confronted in 2001.
Certainly, we have not suffered another catastrophic attack on the scale of 9/11 thanks to considerable progress in reforming how we protect the homeland. Intelligence sharing among federal agencies as well as with their state and local counterparts, sorely lacking before 9/11, is now the norm. Commercial aviation, ports and other critical infrastructure are better protected. The thousands of people involved in protecting the country deserve our gratitude.
Even when America is not the target, terrorism is a strategic threat we must confront.
Even so, we have been unable to prevent all terrorist attacks in the United States. Globally, terrorism has also intensified. According to the Global Terrorism Index, terrorist activity reached its highest recorded level in 2014, the last year with available data, with 32,685 terrorist-caused deaths. In 2001, that figure barely exceeded 5,000. Out of 162 countries studied, 93 have suffered a terrorist attack.
These are not just the internal problems of distant lands. Our focus cannot solely be on our own homeland. Terrorism might not pose an existential challenge to the United States, but it is a spreading disease eating away at the foundation of the free, open and lawful international system and the alliances that the U.S. depends on for its prosperity and security.