The world is becoming ever more dangerous. Threats to the United States are multiple and complex. Just think of terrorists, rogue states, dangers arising from Middle East revolutions, cyber attacks, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the rising power of China. The list goes on.

It makes for a world “more unpredictable, more volatile and more dangerous,” as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has put it. According to polls, most of America’s foreign policy elite thinks the world is as dangerous, or more dangerous than it was during the Cold War.

This belief, write the foreign policy analysts Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen, shapes debates on U.S. foreign policy and frames the public’s understanding of international affairs.

“There is just one problem,” they write in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, “it is simply wrong. The world that the United States inhabits today is a remarkably safe and secure place. It is a world with fewer violent conflicts than at virtually any other point in history.”

They add: “The United States faces no plausible existential threats, no great power rival, and no near-term competition for the role of global hegemon. The U.S. military is the world’s most powerful.” And though there are a variety of international challenges, they pose little risk to the overwhelming majority of American citizens, say the two scholars.