After North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing two marines and two civilians, the Korean Peninsula is as close to war as it has been since 1954. South Korea declared itself in high-alert "crisis status" and vowed "strenuous retaliation" if the North attacked again. It also arranged joint U.S. military exercises in the area. As analysts theorize why North Korea chose to attack, the question here at home is: What should the U.S. do now? (See footage of the attack)
It's time to restart talks: It's harder to interpret North Korea's belligerence given dictator Kim Jong Il's murky hand-off of power to his son, Kim Jong Un, says Thomas P.M. Barnett in Esquire. Who's in control? "The old man hasn't quite exited the scene and the new kid hasn't quite taken over." That situation makes it a bad time for the U.S. to get pushy. As unpalatable as it seems, the U.S. must be the "responsible adult" here and get the Koreans, and Chinese, back to the negotiating table.
"Five ways the U.S. can fend off the next Korean War"
The time for talking is over: If the North Koreans really try to "start something, I say nuke 'em," says Glenn Reynolds in Instapundit. "And not with just a few bombs." President Obama's current strategy isn't working, and while it might be more humane to wait for Kim's dynasty to implode, "they've caused enough trouble — and it would be a useful lesson for Iran, too."
"Just what the world needs now"
Obama can't fix this: "No one seriously believes the U.S. is in a position to strike North Korea," says Matthew Cooper in National Journal. Kim has a million soldiers, some nuclear devices, and enough missiles aimed as nearby Seoul to wipe out millions of South Koreans. The best Obama can probably do is "muddle through," just like his 12 predecessors have done.
"Obama is as hamstrung as his predecessors"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- The NFL is terrified of the culture war
Subscribe to the Week