Here is a sampling of some recent news abroad:
A Russian guard attacked a U.S. diplomatic official at the door to the American Embassy in
The Islamic State continued its global terrorist rampage with horrific attacks in
There are various ways of interpreting these ominous events.
They could represent just more empty chest-thumping by our enemies.
Or, because this is an election year in the U.S., enemies are posturing in order to advance their agendas, as they often do in times of uncertainty about who will be the next president.
Or, Obama is perceived as an exceptionally lame-duck president who is hoping to wind down his tenure in passivity, without a major incident abroad that might imperil his presidential legacy.
Or, after the explosive rise of ISIS, the disaster in Benghazi, the failed reset with
But perhaps there is yet another catalyst prompting such events.
After the attacks by radical Islamists in San Bernardino and
America's enemies draw their own conclusions.
After the recent deaths of two black men in confrontations with police (in
As in the case of Islamic terrorism, America seems to have no answers to racial tensions. Half the country believes African-Americans are inordinately targeted by police and that inner-city violence can be attributed to a long history of racism, national neglect and economic stagnation. The other half blame disastrous social-welfare and big-government policies for creating dangerous dependencies and a dearth of jobs in America's inner cities, as well as a popular culture that glorifies rather than discourages the excesses of many young black males.
One America believes that the Obama administration genuinely tried, but so far has failed, to resolve the tensions between inner-city residents and police. The other America thinks Obama sought to leverage those tensions for political reasons.
Either way, most of America privately thinks that Islamic terrorist acts and racial tensions are going to get far worse -- a perception that is probably shared overseas as well.
Our enemies increasingly may gamble that provocations won't elicit a U.S. reaction. Or that even if America did respond, the resulting domestic divisions and turmoil would diminish the effectiveness of the response.
Add to the equation record debt and vast cuts in the defense budget, and our enemies may conclude that we are
To be blunt, America's vulnerable postwar global order may already seem to those abroad to be bloated carrion ready to be picked apart by opportunistic vultures.