The dangers during the Cold War era were chilling, but the United States still faces daunting challenges from cyber attacks and a variety of terrorist threats, a Washington conference concluded.
Senior U.S. lawmakers, defense analysts and military officials met Thursday to discuss security threats at the Bloomberg Government conference.
The world is safer now than during the Cold War, when the danger was clearer. Now the United States is facing cyber espionage and international terrorism, more difficult to detect and combat.
There is also cyber espionage that poses economic and technological competition from China and other nations.
Defense analyst Michael OHanlon of the Brookings Institution suggested that the United States needs to prepare a doctrine on cyber activities.
Then there are the terrorist groups. The United States faces threats from organizations in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and even Latin America, according to Michael Chertoff, who was secretary of homeland security in President George W. Bushs administration.
Latin America is underappreciated as a center for terrorism, said Mr. Chertoff.
The United States faces a growing threat from Irans nuclear program as well. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sees a major crisis developing there.
Facing new security threats under budget constraints will prove more difficult because of cost overruns in weapons programs, the senator said.
For all that, the world is a safer place today, the experts think. Mr. OHanlon said: On balance, the world of 2012 is a much safer place to live than the world in 1962 or 1972 or probably even 1982.
But it is still perilous.