Caution on Korea

The Obama administration is engaged in a difficult and dangerous balancing act with respect to North Korea, but one that is unfortunately necessary.

Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, appears to be playing a game much like his father and grandfather: rattle his sabers to get the international community to back off on sanctions and extort cash from the United States.

President Barack Obama is doing the right thing by refusing to capitulate and by demonstrating support for South Korea with a show of military force in the region.

The danger is that the 30-year-old Kim has little experience in this contest of international chicken. Also, he has already showed much of his hand — rejecting the cease-fire agreement that ended the Korean War, firing missiles into the ocean, promising to restart mothballed nuclear reactors and threatening the demilitarized zone. No one is sure if he will commit an act of military aggression to prove his bona fides.

The Obama administration no doubt has intelligence giving it hints about what Kim may do. And it is proceeding cautiously, even as it refuses to rush to the negotiating table.

We can only hope that Kim responds rationally.


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