The “North Korean threat” has been by turns on and off our front pages since Donald Trump took office six months ago. Now it is decisively on, in my read. “Strategic patience”—Washington’s euphemism for having no idea what to do—has had its day, as the president and various members of his cabinet regularly declare. An administration that has yet to deploy a single coherent foreign policy in any context the world over now must figure one out.
Tuesday’s launch is not so big a deal as Washington and its media clerks have made it: It is a step, no more, toward intercontinental capability. Kim’s claim on Wednesday is a maybe at best, even if the policy cliques find it convenient to take this one more seriously than others in the past. But there is no time left for dithering or denial: We know now that the danger of a nuclear confrontation between two exceedingly hostile powers is a few years off and drawing closer.
A clearer case of reaping what one sows I cannot think of.