2024—America’s Year of Living Dangerously

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

Lame-duck presidencies, especially in the last six months of their final term, in general can offer opportunities for America’s enemies to take advantage of a perceived vacuum as one government transitions to the next.

But these normal changeover months are especially dangerous when a perceived weak or appeasing lame-duck president is likely to be replaced by a strong deterrent successor that will likely serve as a corrective to his disastrous policies.

James Buchannan (1857-1861), a northern but pro-South president, was a particularly anemic chief executive. He had done little if anything to try to deal with the growing rift between North and South, especially the furor over the Dred Scott decision and Bloody Kansas. Even when warned, Buchannan did little to beef up the U.S. Army or increase its weapon stockpiles to deter any potential secessionist state.

After Buchannan declined to run for a second term, the South understood that the abolitionist and anti-slavery Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln might well be elected in 1860—given the North/South split within the Democratic Party. And they understood that President Lincoln might well use force to stop secession.

Therefore, in the waning days of the Buchannan administration, after Lincoln’s victory, seven southern states seceded during the presidential transition, a confused North reacted little, more would follow, and a terrible Civil War became inevitable.

During the waning days of the crippled second term of Richard Nixon in summer 1974, communist North Vietnam saw a once deterrent president fatally weakened by Watergate. It was encouraged by a renewed antiwar movement, a likely soon anti-war Congress, and the next president, Gerald Ford—a probable caretaker soon to be replaced by an anti-war Democrat. And so in late 1974 and 1975, the communists renounced ignored peace accords, judged correctly that the directionless US would not help South Vietnam stop a massive invasion from the North, and thereby won the 12-year-long war.

As the Jimmy Carter administration began to wind down and as it was increasingly judged as weak abroad, the new theocratic revolutionary government in Iran stormed the U.S. embassy and took hostages in November 1979. Throughout the next year, Tehran systematically humiliated the U.S., mocked an impotent Carter administration, and rebuffed all U.S. efforts to secure the return of the hostages.

The Soviet Union as well saw the dying and still inert Carter term as ripe for exploitation and so invaded Afghanistan a month later, in December 1979. It too concluded that there would be a year of continued timidity in Washington before a likely remedy from a Republican president—in this case, Ronald Reagan, who had declared his candidacy a little over a week after Iran took hostages with clear promises to restore U.S. deterrence abroad.

We are now once again entering one of these dangerous moments, compounded by a weakening of the armed forces. During Biden’s tenure, the U.S. military has suffered historic shortfalls in recruitment, the disastrous humiliation in Afghanistan, a new DEI commissariat that wars on meritocratic promotions and assignments, the politicization of generals and admirals, the hyped but otherwise inane effort to root out mythical white supremacists and “domestic terrorist” bogeymen from the ranks, and the expulsion of some of our best soldiers for their reluctance to be vaccinated, many of them having developed natural immunity from prior infection.

The Pentagon is short on ships and planes. U.S. weapons stocks are dangerously low, drained by the abandonment of billions of dollars of equipment to the Taliban, the resupply efforts to Ukraine and Israel, the failure of the Biden administration to fund the restocking of our munitions and to ramp up resupply production—and a $35 trillion national debt fed by $2 trillion annual deficits.

Add eight million illegal aliens who pranced over a nonexistent southern border, nearly uninhabitable big-city downtowns, an epidemic of violent crime, and a president who resuscitates mostly to blast half the country as “semi-fascists” and “ultra-MAGA” extremists.

Add it all up, and the world abroad agrees America is in a strange, self-inflicted decline and will not or cannot defend its interests, or for that matter itself.

In particular, both enemies and neutrals have accordingly drawn a number of self-interested conclusions about the waning Biden administration and what may follow:

  1. That Joe Biden, to their apparent delight, has in the last three years reversed the Trump deterrence policies and thus has green-lit their aggressions.
  2. That given the ensuing chaos, they have further agreed that Biden’s growing unpopularity with the American people makes it likely that both he and his appeasement policies will be gone by January 2025.
  3. That Donald Trump may well return to office. That would mean a much worse deal for Russia, China, Iran, and its terrorist satellites, and thus recognition that 2024 is a brief window of opportunity for aggression.

Putin remembers that Trump blasted 200 Russian mercenaries in Syria, got out of a bad missile deal with Moscow, upped sanctions on Russian oligarchs, flooded the world with cheap oil, destroying Russian oil export profits, sold once-canceled offensive weapons to Ukraine, and warned what would happen if Putin invaded Ukraine. Of the last four administrations, Trump’s was the only one that saw no Russian cross-border invasions.

China remembers that Trump slapped tariffs on its mercantilist market economy, accused China of birthing the COVID virus at its Wuhan virology lab, increased military spending, forced NATO to spend another $100 billion on munitions, and jawboned more alliance members into upping their military contributions. Beijing knew that to send a spy balloon across the continental United States between 2017-21 would have meant its destruction the minute it entered U.S. airspace. China did not serially threaten Taiwan during the Trump era—and may believe that this year could be the last chance in a decade to confront Taiwan.

Iran has concluded two things about 2024: 1) they do not wish to see another Trump presidency on the horizon that took out its top-ranking terrorist-general Qasem Soleimani, slapped sanctions on its oil, yanked the U.S. out of the flawed Iran Deal, declared the Iranian Houthi satellites a foreign terrorist organization, cut off all aid to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, moved the U.S. closer to Israel, and warned Hezbollah of consequences should it start a war with Israel; and 2) that the present Biden abdication will likely be short-lived and thus now may be the time to take advantage of a currently directionless global superpower that either will not or cannot deter Iranian aggression.

So what should we expect in 2024? Lacking a strong U.S. patron and sponsor, Israel will be subject to more international calls to leave Gaza, to negotiate with Hamas, and to give up the idea it can “destroy” Hamas.

Hezbollah will likely up its daily barrage of missiles into Israel.

Iran will become more overt in supplying Russia, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis with weapons.

China will increase its threats to Taiwan and weigh carefully the costs-to-benefits of attacking the island.

The common denominator? All our enemies are right now calculating how best to use their gift of the next 12 months from a non-compos-mentis president and his neo-socialist team that either believes the U.S. is at fault for much of the world’s pathologies or is too terrified to do anything about them.

In sum, adversaries believe there is a rare window of opportunity in which the U.S. uncharacteristically does nothing to deter its enemies, back its allies, or win over neutrals. And over the next year, we can only pray they are mistaken.


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43 thoughts on “2024—America’s Year of Living Dangerously”

  1. Florence Hanson

    In the next month , I will reach 80 years, God willing. I remember 1973 ; watched every Watergate hearing, down to the ” Saturday Night Massacre “. Our President resigned. The 17 1/2 minute gap on the tape recorder was a very loud silence. Dismayed, I had voted Republican.
    The highlight of the year for me was Secretariat, Triple Crown all time Hero. Could Trump be another Secretariat in 2024?

  2. As always, VDH nails it with a historical perspective that aligns with our current awful situation. Three years and 2 days ago, this disastrous presidency began. Look at what has happened in just that time! I’ve been saying for many months, we will be lucky to make it to 1/20/25 without some major catastrophes. This editorial echoes that sentiment.
    The blood of dead Ukrainians, dead Israelis, dead and beaten sex-trafficked children, all rests on biden’s hands. While Victor’s editorial speaks mostly of the foreign risks we face, I know that our domestic risks are even greater, given the open border wrought illegally upon our country. No doubt there are terror cells strategizing as I type.
    I would like to think that the cure for this is an overwhelming landslide election that buries the current administration in outright rejection. Yet I worry that if this occurs, the “George Floyd riot apparatus” will immediately kick into gear, putting the country through even more trauma.
    These are dark times…about to get darker.

  3. Spot on analysis. Power abhors a vacuum, and there certainly is one. Nationally, the mood across the board, from my perspective as a line employee of the government, is everyone is keeping their heads down. We’re all pretty convinced that the status quoists will stop at nothing to maintain their agenda, including a new variant. They’ve been testing the waters with little articles about this one or that one. By the same token, it appears that big money, Wall St and the starving comm real estate sector, as well as all the people who bought into some of the Trump is the Devil agitprop have seen that the emperor has no clothes. For those of us who actually administer policies it’s been a roller coaster; from getting illegals rapidly deported to making sure they’re given PTSD counseling and decent food in a brief three year period. Clearly, the next step of the deep state is simply getting them voting, and once that occurs, discussions like this will be considered hate speech. G-d save us.

  4. …or there will be a democrat residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January 20, 2025. It’s becoming all too clear it’s not who votes but who counts the votes…especially in the cities.

  5. Thank you for writing this Victor. There is no doubt that America will see more trouble in the days to come. The open border alone has brought much trouble and will take decades to clean up. To ramp up law enforcement across the nation after the defund police message will be challenging, along with recruiting people to join the military. Tell me, who wants to join a military with men who wear lipstick. This is the message we have sent our enemies. And our allies look the other way in disgust. Our men and women in uniform have been portrayed as enemies to America. When they should be praised for risking their lives for the American people. Our enemies have had no other time like now to take what they seek from America. And they will use this time to their advantage and will take whatever risk is necessary. The next president to be elected will be a president cleaning up Biden’s mess. Many Americans today are already prepared or are preparing for something bad to happen (war), which is why many will select Trump this coming November.

    And if Trump is not allowed to be a selection for the American people this coming November, most certainly there will be trouble in days ahead. The FBI, along with its partner the CIA should know well what they have created here. The American people are not going to be pushed around any longer. With an intelligence community who have betrayed the American people, have created false narratives (J6, Russia Hoax, etc.). This will never be forgotten.

  6. There is some probability this stunningly weak Administration will be offered an insult.
    Why heck, even purported citizen Alex Soros posted a barely veiled life threat to a candidate on X.
    Hopefully, the Secret Service is still capable of doing their original work even with the ethically challenged DOJ/FBI.

  7. I would be willing to bet that sometime in the next few months the Democrats will trot out Michelle to replace Biden. Then Obama will have a full twenty years to “fundamentally change” (i.e. completely destroy) the United States. Remember Rev. Wright and his “God damn America” rants?

  8. Similar thoughts have crossed my mind to which I might add that our military is so disbursed throughout the world. Plus, only the U.S. Military is capable of coordinating combined efforts to defeat these dark forces, and there’s a serious lack of leadership heading up our military forces.

  9. The only way to improve on the outcome you accurately predict is for Trump to begin warning each of these nations of the price for their actions. For Trump to be effective, the American people must be behind him in large numbers.

  10. Adrienne Wasserman

    But what can we do as appalled, individual voters, short of working for a clean election, and a Republican sweep of the House, Senate, and Presidency? My husband, one of those loyal New York Jewish Dems still left standing (he won’t vote however for Biden or Kamala) read aloud a CNN report of a Heritage Foundation essay that tens of thousands of federal workers would lose their jobs after a Donald Trump victory; he expected me, another New York Jewish Dem who switched to the Republican Party several years ago for the sake of Israel and America, to react in horror; he was surprised when I said of course, and I hope the list includes a lot of people in the judiciary who have decided they no longer want to bother with equal justice under the law.

  11. One more year of that crooked SOB in the White House will be 12 months too many. And this time, President Trump will be even more proactive about the fat, greasy bureaucracy wasting our tax dollars and immediately start trimming the fat away. He will replace the worn-down dentures of our corrupt law enforcement with shiny new fangs to clean out the filth and make our environment safe to live again.

  12. Well put Dr. Hanson. As a country, we are in a precarious position entering 2024. This administration’s ability, or rather inability, to address the threats to our country and western civilization in general is deeply troubling. It is laughable that leftists are regurgitating their tired presupposition that if re-elected Trump would lead our country into war, when that is exactly what happened under Biden’s anemic and feckless leadership.

  13. I loved the way this article compared the Biden regime’s actions VS President Trump’s actions. Trump let the world know that he would do whatever was needed to protect America. The Biden regime has lawlessly worked with the Globalists to destroy America. I sure hope the communistic globalists lose this battle. I feel so helpless to stop it. I’ve been calling congress and the senate for the last 4 years or more to stop the crazy spending. It all fell on deaf ears.

  14. As the days pass the overwhelming fear of what is to come increasingly dim our hope for the future. Millions of American Citizens, small business owners and entrepreneurs have gambled their futures on the prosperity of our great nation. We must keep moving forward even though our hopes and dreams may seem out of reach. Keep your friends close and your family closer. God Bless America!

    “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

    -Calvin Coolidge

  15. Our country is in big trouble!
    GOD is watching over Israel
    We are in real deep if we turn our back on Israel..the Bible says so!!! Woe to us if we do
    Pray our leaders know this and abide by it!
    We are so vunerable..how can our people ever vote for the democrats….they have no direction…thanks, Victor, for your insights!!!

  16. An AXIS type of assembly of enemies moving in lockstep in a multi-faceted, multi-level attack could hurt us badly and hogtie us with a mostly non-existent response from the inept DC bosses.

  17. In terms of political events, or events that influence politics, I am just waiting to see what the democrats have cooked up for us this year.

    What type of domestic color revolution do they have in mind? You know they have been planning something for months.

    Or will they just cause so much commotion that they can declare martial law and not have elections? The legacy media would support that, I am sure.

    Or will Joe go to war to “preserve our freedom”? That has been done before.

    Will they finally “get Trump” in whatever diabolical and crooked way they can imaginatively create?. Really, after the J6 Hoax, anything is possible.

    Will Obama’s partner join the fray and bring the high-pitched adulation of the legacy media with her? Or will she just be a terrible candidate? Even Barrack is lousy off-script. His normal sonorous tones turn into “uh, ahh, er” spoken by a snail on downers.

    Or just do the tried and true: introduce a new and improved (more lethal) plandemic.

    Klause would LOVE that!

    We will see. But something is definitely afoot.

  18. Michael Giandiletti

    Agree wholeheartedly with the substance of the article although the analysis of the Carter Administration is flawed. True, Iran took advantage of Carter’s weakness during the Iran Crisis. It probably did not believe Carter was a lame duck. Remember, the 1980 election broke toward Reagan late. Carter was ahead for much of the campaign.

  19. Concomitantly, could Netanyahu be thinking to somehow draw out war on Hamas thinking, “Iwill for Trump. My chances will be much better of KOing Iran and her proxies. Biden is no friend.

  20. Glenda Lombardo

    I’m new to The Blade but have VDH books and have listened to his podcasts via my subscription to Just The News. I’ve become a huge fan!

  21. Victor, I am extremely worried about when the dominos begin to fall. If an escalation in hostilities occur in any of the threat areas you’ve mentioned, China-Taiwan, Russia-Ukraine, Hamas-Israel, and Iranian munitions plus terrorism, it would be bad news for America. More so because if any one of these events happen it would greatly decrease the risk our adversaries in the other areas would potentially face. Each incursion increases the chance for another. Do you believe we are on the brink of a global war because of the disastrous Biden policies?

  22. Dbrady4415@gmail.com

    Scary situation. The people’s will drive the politicians actions. How do we convince moderates and rational liberals that these dangers are real?

  23. VDH offers a succinct and informed assessment of the accelerating dangers of a President who has effectively been a lame duck for 3 years. Sadly the President, Jake Sullivan, Anthony Blinken and the cabinet fail to understand nor acknowledge the many catastrophes of their geopolitical policies. They have followed Obama’s appeasement doctrine and are unable to recognize how this has encouraged Russia, Iran, China and the drug cartels. Nowhere in this administration can one be found who speaks softly, but carries a big stick.

  24. Hansen is spot-on! Rats start moving when the traps are all removed. Biden has opened the gates of evil all over the globe. He alone is responsible for the deaths that will occur around the world because of his ineptitude.

  25. I have lived through each of these lame duck presidencies except that of James Buchanan. Professor Hanson, as always, speaks the truth. Unfortunately, in my living memory, no lame duck has been lamer than our present corrupt excuse for a commander-in chief. Not only are we confident that our attention to critical issues concerning Ukraine, Gaza, and Taiwan will be a continuation of the weak, tepid, confused activity we have seen to date but of absolute importance we are desperately in need of a strong, intelligent leader to respond to the terrorists we have invited into our country over our southern border. What insanity.
    A proud deplorable!!!
    Go Trump!!!

  26. Non compos mentis aptly describes not only Joe Biden but many people who lack an inability to think clearly and make sound decisions. Often, he is confused when leaving a stage, not knowing which direction to go. He serves as a caricature of a world that has lost its moorings, driven and tossed by the winds of the latest anti-biblical tirades.

    Hence, the sexual perversions, abortions, manic ecology, progressive equity, disregard for the law, coddling of criminals, proliferation of illegal aliens, trillions of dollars of deficit spending, wars and rumors of wars, etc.

    Romans 1

  27. I believe this is an accurate description of where we now stand on the world stage, we are incredibly vulnerable on many fronts, how do we light a fire in the bellies of the American people who have been so divided and deceived, all the people running for office are requesting money, they supposedly want to know what you think, but won’t take your info unless you donate, why don’t they ask everyone, did you vote for Trump in 20, can the # of replies to that question be manipulated, seems like we need a supernatural catalyst to light our fire and help us remember, the gritty, tough, get er done, generally God fearing nation that knew our blessings, came from the foundation on which our nation was built, the blessings that indeed made us “ The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave” come on my fellow Americans, the way our economy is being run, printing presses at full capacity, destroying the value of you wealth, schools corrupting the minds of your children, pharmaceuticals, vaccinating us and our children to death, the people elected to watch out for our best interest, compromised or colluding, with those who would take America down, We The People are to blame, ask and pray that the blinders may be removed from our eyes, we were once a great nation, because we were by and large good, we still had a conscience, we could think critically, and we could identify evil and stand against it, now lies, deception, murder, and destruction, rule our land or soon will, Lord Help us

  28. Kenny Moore.
    Brilliantly written summary of the seemingly disastrous situation we now find the US is in. We are at the end of the plank is doing nothing to save this country! As it clearly states in scripture, we are at the end of Revelation chapter 3, and Satan wants us to quickly jump into Revelation 4. Nothing short of a complete Revival can delay our impending disaster! Gog and Magog are about to happen before our very eyes! Carefully read the “Public Law 104-45 – 8 Nov 1995. (“Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995”). Note this date and post it on your refrigerator: 2 October 2024!

  29. VDH,
    You make a case that Ukraine can’t beat Russia. In very simple and brief terms, Russia has many times more people and GDP. The U.S. is leaderless and in decline, and the world has not cut Putin’s revenue source.

    By these measures, Israel is in an even worse predicament. Israel, numbering around 9 million, is surrounded by 411 million. We now know 90% of those 411 million do not want Israel in their neighborhood and are ok with river to the sea by any means.

    As much as “we” Americans can’t believe how too many have condoned, justified, even applauded Oct 7, perhaps “we” need to accept the hard reality in front of us. Just as you make the case that Ukraine can’t beat Russia, shouldn’t “we” look at the possibility that Israel may be facing a Carthaginian future?

    If only Moses had found that burning bush somewhere in North America.
    Colonel Ted Campbell (retired)

  30. 1) Free Market Capitalism
    2) The strongest (“Blood & Guts” George S. Patton) military on the planet to make sure we keep it.
    3) Small limited government
    4) Individual responsibility

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