|Fidel Castro: A bully rewarded?|
Changes of administrations usually mark dicey times in American foreign policy. But transitional hazards will never be greater than in 2016.
Over a span of just a few months in mid-1945, new president Harry Truman lost all trust in Soviet Union strongman Josef Stalin — in a way that Truman's predecessor, the ailing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, never had during nearly four years of World War II.
Ensuing American foreign policy jerked from a pragmatic Lend-Lease alliance with a duplicitous communist superpower to a tense Cold War.
President John F. Kennedy was young, idealistic, cocky — and without the military reputation of his predecessor, the much more experienced former general Dwight D. Eisenhower. Soon after JFK's inauguration in 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev predictably began testing Kennedy's mettle as commander in chief, from Berlin to Cuba.
Kennedy's eventual restoration of American deterrence during the Cuban blockade marked the scariest phase in Cold War history.
By 1980, as lame duck Jimmy Carter neared the end of his first and only term, the Russians had sought to absorb Afghanistan. Communist insurrections kept spreading in Central America. China went into Vietnam. The new theocracy in Iran still held American diplomats and employees hostage.
Most aggressors had logically accelerated their risk-taking before the newly elected, mostly unknown (but volatile-sounding) Ronald Reagan took office in 1981.
The world's bullies are now wagering on whether 2016 likewise offers one final opportunity to consolidate their easy recent winnings. Or, in their hubris, might they ramp up their belligerence one last time before the arrival of a new president who will be more likely be supportive of the U.S.-led postwar order?Read the rest of Victor Davis Hanson's op-ed HERE.
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