For rogue regimes to threaten America and its allies is nothing new. But I have the distinct sense these days that the threats are both prolific and becoming more boldly specific.
North Korea isn't just making its usual threats to drown South Korea in a sea of fire. Pyongyang has been cranking out cheesy videos depicting missile attacks on Washington, and just threatened to attack American military bases in Japan and on Guam. Iran's rulers are not only expressing their usual generic wish to wipe Israel off the map. Iran's top boss, a.k.a. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, just celebrated Nowruz with a televised speech threatening in geographically precise terms that if Israel's authorities "make the slightest mistake the Islamic Republic will annihilate Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground."
For that matter, Hamas, the terrorist overlords of the rogue non-state of Gaza, took it upon themselves last month to threaten President Obama that if he visited the Temple Mount during his trip to Israel, they would take it as a "declaration of war" against the Islamic world.
Is this business as usual, or cause for increasing alarm?
"Stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me"...? Hardly reassuring. In these realms, there are already too many sticks, stones, missiles and explosive devices. All these actors have an extravagant history of mayhem and murder, going back to their various inceptions. And what they appear to be learning from each other is that they can make ever uglier threats with relative impunity. There are, of course, reasoned arguments to be made that such threats are largely for domestic consumption, or that the comfortably ensconced thugs ruling over such places as North Korea, Iran and Gaza, for all their brinksmanship, would prefer not to launch attacks so devastating as to provoke devastation in response. There's even a case to be made that dire threats are a sign of desperation, or are perhaps just laying the groundwork for a better starting position at the bargaining table. But with North Korea conducting missile and nuclear tests, with Iran's uranium centrifuges spinning, with Hamas trucking in weapons from Iran, it's ever more ominous that the threats from this gang keep pushing the envelope. Time to ring the world's super cop... but who is that these days?