Intelligence operatives and commandos dispatched by Pyongyang have kidnapped hundreds of South Korean and Japanese mariners, fishermen and civilian women and children. North Korean terrorists have made no fewer than three additional attempts to assassinate South Korean leaders. One of them, a 1983 bombing in Rangoon, killed 17 diplomats and members of South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan's security detail. In 1987, a bomb placed aboard Korean Airlines Flight 858 killed all 115 aboard -- including four Americans.
In 1994, after North Korea's "great leader," Kim Il Sung, died of a heart attack at age 82, the Clinton administration opened direct negotiations with his son and successor, Kim Jong Il, and claimed it had forged a "new relationship" with Pyongyang. Since then, the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations have delivered tens of millions of dollars' worth of food, fuel and humanitarian aid to ease starvation. Despite this generosity -- and toothless U.N. sanctions -- little has changed except that North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.
Last year, the despotic dynasty passed to the founder's 27-year-old grandson, Kim Jong Un. Eager to prove himself to "old guard" Communist Party hacks and the military leaders actually running the hermit kingdom, Kim has upped the ante. In December, the Korean People's Army launched a multistage missile capable of hitting the U.S. homeland. In February, North Korea successfully tested a nuclear weapon -- and followed up with threats of a nuclear strike on the United States, Japan and South Korea. This week, North Korea moved a Musudan midrange mobile missile to a coastal test range on the Sea of Japan.
Official Washington's response to this new round of North Korean saber rattling has exacerbated anxiety in Seoul, Tokyo and U.S. Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii. Last week, the Obama administration launched a rhetorical counterattack against Pyongyang and widely publicized the deployment of strike aircraft, U.S. Navy surface combatants and ballistic missile defense assets -- including two sea-based radar platforms and ground-based missile interceptors to Guam.
One senior military officer put it this way: "All this should have been done very quietly and reassured our allies. Instead, the Obama administration is turning this into their version of John Kennedy's 'Seven Days in May.' If they keep this up, everyone out here will have nukes."
Well put. The folks who canceled White House tours to save money need to get out their history books. The first occupant of the White House to receive a Nobel Prize was famous for saying, "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel and the author of the New York Times best-seller "Heroes Proved." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.