Kim Jong Il, the demented dictator of impoverished North Korea, has shown his contempt for theÂ weak, apology-driven foreign policy of the Obama administration by detonating a nuclear device the size of the Hiroshima atomic bomb and firing off at least three missilesÂ during the Memorial Day weekend. The testsÂ represent North Korea’sÂ crystal-clear rejectionÂ of the administrationâ€™s policy of engagement with hostile nations.
The North Koreans, who last month defied the international community by test-launching a long-range missile despite U.S.Â protestationsÂ — and in direct violation of previous resolutions issued by the impotent United Nations –Â are now fearless.
And why wouldnâ€™t they be? The response of the U.S. and the U.N. to the previous test-launches was utterly predictable to the North Koreans; i.e., there wasÂ no serious response. With China and Russia threatening to veto any serious sanctions,Â America’s banal, stockÂ criticisms soon faded and the North Koreans came to realize that they were holding all of the cards, and thatÂ Kim could now do whatever he wanted with impunity.
What is truly remarkable, however,Â is just how much the Obama administration was caught off guard by this latest provocation. Indeed, the administration never saw it coming. Just two weeks ago, for example, the U.S. special envoy for disarmament talks with North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said during a visit to Asian capitals that “everyone is feeling relatively relaxed about where we are at this point in the process.”
The administration, apparently still relaxed, has thus far responded in its usual tepid way. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for one,Â is doing what she usually does in response to foreign provocations –Â initiating a flurry of fruitless activity and hollow rhetoric. She has called her counterparts from China, South Korea, Japan and Australia, informing them thatÂ this latest nuclear testÂ calls for a “unified” response from the world community.
She stopped short, however, of calling for sanctions against North Korea. Ian Kelly, Hillaryâ€™s spokesman, said “a blockade, isolation, any sort of cordons sanitaires are not a subject of discussion…. The door to negotiations should always remain open.”
Sounds like dÃ©jÃ vu. Score another one for Kim.