What is needed is a new national security strategy and a renewed commitment to homeland security, one that builds capabilities from the ground up rather than imposing unfunded mandates from the top down. Adequate resources must be committed to all dimensions of national power, not just one. Investments should not just enhance our ability to counter the terrorism threat, but also promote far-reaching systemic improvements that will better position the United States to cope with a range of challenges and major disruptions regardless of the origin—terrorism, yes, but also pandemics, natural disasters, and man-made events.
This takes on special significance given al Qaeda's recent pattern of strikes associated with elections or political transitions. The United States faces increased risk of another attack over the next year and a half, which will place a burden on the next administration. Iraq may well be the dominant national security issue in the presidential campaign, but homeland security could well present the next president with his or her first national security challenge. This paper provides the framework for the reevaluation of our homeland security policies that the next administration should pursue as part of a balanced national security strategy to make the United States more secure in the years to come.