Pres. Barack Obama came into office apparently believing that his non-traditional background, charisma, and good intentions could placate dictators hostile to America and ease global tensions.
In these first six months, the new administration has made clear to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, Russia's Vladimir Putin, and other strongmen like them that Barack Obama is not a mean-talking George Bush. A kinder, gentler United States has promised to push the "reset" button. In the interest of peace, an American president will finally be listening rather than lecturing, and willing to talk to authoritarian bullies without preconditions.
But so far the world's thugs do not seem to appreciate that new goodwill. Intelligence reports indicate that North Korea's Kim Jong-Il is planning to launch a ballistic test missile in the direction of Hawaii between July 4 and July 8. Russia's Vladimir Putin would like his country's money to replace the dollar as the global currency.