Victor Davis Hanson

In the coming year, plenty of our chickens will be coming home to roost.

Take foreign relations. In 2009, the new administration assumed that George W. Bush was largely responsible for global tensions. As a remedy, we loudly reached out to our foes and those with whom we had uneasy relationships.

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But so far these leaders -- like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Russia's Vladimir Putin -- have only interpreted Barack Obama's serial goodwill gestures as weaknesses to be exploited. They play the part of the pushy class bully, we the whiny nerd.

In the waning days of 2009, Iran has announced it has no intention of dismantling its nuclear facilities and ignored the latest Obama deadline to cease. There's no reason not to expect the theocracy to make significant strides in its nuclear program in 2010, while continuing without rebuke to beat and murder democratic dissidents in its streets.

Russia has announced plans to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons -- and scoffed at our polite suggestions that it should pressure Iran to stop its nuclear development.

Venezuela brags of its own similar program to come -- an act that could threaten all the neighboring democracies in the region.

The administration courted China on a much-heralded Asian tour. President Obama even has said he would be our first "Pacific president."

Unfortunately, China was not impressed. It declined our advice about reducing its carbon footprint and instead reminded Americans that we owe the Chinese people nearly $1 trillion. Expect much more of that hectoring in 2010 as our debt to China grows.

Consider also the threat of Islamic terrorism. In 2009, some in the Obama administration decided "war on terror" was too provocative a label for what might be better dubbed "overseas contingency operations." Apparently, they were thinking a kinder, gentler image would discourage terrorists.

Accordingly, the self-confessed architect of Sept. 11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was promised a civil trial in New York rather than a military tribunal normally accorded to out-of-uniform murderous terrorists. Expect a lot of soapbox speechmaking about America's sins during his testimony in 2010.

As part of our efforts to break with the Bush anti-terrorism past, President Obama also vowed he would close the facility at Guantanamo Bay by Jan. 22, 2010 -- another deadline that won't be met.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.