If someone could get jumping-bean secretary of state Kerry off of his jet long enough to preside over a review of U.S. foreign priorities, he might discover why we are in such a pickle in our dealings with North Korea—and what might be done. It is a nation that openly threatens the United States and its allies—not less than with nuclear attacks—and all we can say is, “well, the kid seems to be bluffing.”
Talking heads on TV keep reassuring each other that North Korea is not suicidal. Washington is scaling back military exercises in the area and urging South Korea to be cautious—and to be sure that if attacked their response will be proportional and not escalatory. True, the United States did send some untested missile-defense units to the region and to Alaska, and moved some other military assets around. But altogether, this is not much of a response.
The reason we must be so circumspect is that Kim Jong-un has us over a barrel. It is common knowledge that he can flatten Seoul and may well be able to overrun South Korea. If he proceeds, Washington will be left with very few and very tough options: either using nuclear arms or engaging in a large-scale conventional war, drawing on our worn-out army in a faraway country—all this just as our economy requires retrenching.
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