The November election is expected to hinge on the economy, but rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula are pushing foreign policy into center stage. Vice President Joe Biden says President Obama's overseas successes, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, prove he's better equipped to be commander-in-chief than the untested Mitt Romney. But Romney says he'd be tougher than Obama on belligerent countries, including North Korea, which is reportedly set to test a nuclear device in an attempt to shake off the embarrassment of its recent failed missile launch. Will Obama prove his mettle in the North Korea crisis, or could it be his undoing?
This is "Obama's Jimmy Carter moment": North Korea has exposed Obama's dangerous naivete, says Romney adviser Richard Williamson at Foreign Policy. The president thought "extending an olive branch" by offering food aid to the poverty-stricken hermit kingdom would solve everything, but such "weakness" only encourages more aggression. In the Carter era, this kind of "inexperience and incompetence" created the "twin disasters" of Russia's Afghan invasion and the Iran crisis. Sadly, Obama has not learned from Carter's mistakes.
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Huh? Obama is doing better than the GOP ever did: Romney wants voters to forget that North Korea built and tested their first nuclear weapons "on the Republicans' watch," says David Shorr at Democracy Arsenal. Obama, who is trying carrots and sticks to handle problems he inherited from the GOP, has hit Iran, for example, with "harsher sanctions" than George W. Bush ever did. Clearly, Romney is the naive one — convinced that "grand expressions of toughness and moral clarity" will magically cause "the capitulation of rogue regimes." What a fantasy.
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North Korea will be its own undoing, not Obama's: Nobody will be able to negotiate away North Korea's nuclear weapons, Victor Cha, a former adviser to George W. Bush, tells The Korea Herald. It sees ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. as its ultimate security guarantee. But it's unlikely that the crisis in North Korea will do much to erode Obama's re-election chances. If anything, what's headed for collapse is North Korea's impoverished dictatorship, which is faltering under "untested leadership."
"N. Korea may see its end in a collapse: Former White House adviser"
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