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These paradoxes were not lost on our terrorist enemies. The successors to Osama bin Laden apparently guessed that the Obama administration might not like America’s antiterrorism policies any more than the terrorists themselves did.

News that the FBI scrutinized and then apparently forgot about unhinged Islamists such as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan sent the wrong message to terrorists. Was the Obama administration more worried about hurting feelings than preventing further attacks?

Other rivals and enemies are now fully aware of our new pill-bug mode in the Middle East — and are willing to bet that it might apply everywhere. Without worry over the U.S. reaction, Russia has given tentative asylum as a reward to Edward Snowden, who single-handedly exposed — and sabotaged — a vast National Security Agency spying network. Increasingly, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan seem to be on their own with a bullying China, unsure whether to bend or resist.

Meanwhile, the new American pill bug curls up in hopes that the mounting dangers will just go away.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.