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The United States has now shot so many rhetorical arrows that its quiver of indignation is empty — and the world’s troublemakers may know it. An administration that ignores almost all of its own Obamacare deadlines surely cannot expect others to abide by any timetables it sets abroad.

There may be no viable solutions to the violence in Syria or Ukraine. The messes in Egypt and Libya, the Chinese provocations to their neighbors, the North Korean lunacy and the spiraling violence in Venezuela certainly have no easy answers. Not knowing quite what to do is not the same as knowing certainly what not to do.

Although the United States alone seems to honor its promised deadlines of withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, the world’s aggressors sense that the Obama administration’s bluster is predictably to be followed by more bluster. Therefore, they have decided to risk aggrandizements while they can. In the mind of Vladimir Putin, today Ukraine, tomorrow the Baltic States or Eastern Europe. For the Iranian theocrats, if chemical weapons are OK in Syria, why not nuclear weapons in Iran? For China, when Japan backs off, why shouldn’t Taiwan, South Korea or the Philippines?

Such a seemingly insignificant loss of deterrence is how wars often start — when an aggressive nation bets that loud words signal that consequences will never follow. So it is emboldened to up the ante and try something even riskier.

America’s outrage over deadlines and red lines is long past monotonous and empty — and the result has been an ever scarier world.

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