Last month, we observed the third anniversary of the day that awakened America to a new world, when extremists killed thousands of innocent people on American soil. Last week marked the third anniversary of the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom, the day America resolved to take the battle to the extremists themselves - and we attacked al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Three years into the global war on terror, some ask whether America is safer, and if the world is better off. These are fair questions.
But, first, some historical perspective. It has been said that this global war against extremism will be the task of a generation, a war that could go on for years, much like the Cold War, which lasted for decades.
We look back now at the Cold War as a great victory for freedom. But nothing was certain or preordained. The fifty-year span of the epic battle between the free world and the Soviet empire was filled with division, uncertainty, self-doubt, setbacks, and failures.