Foreign Affairs

* Were it not so frightening, it would merely be outlandish. Here was the U.S. and South Korea, upping the war-games ante by joining in live-fire, bombing exercises that simulated precision strikes against North Korea’s “core facilities.” North Korea called it a “rash act.” And here was North Korea firing off a midrange ballistic missile and conducting a nuclear test. President Donald Trump called it “very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

More envelope pushing at the world’s nuclear trip-wire. Who backs down first? Call it “East-West Side Story.” What it would look like if the Sharks and Jets had nukes.

* The U.S. is seriously considering sanctions to pressure China and anybody else who trades with North Korea. We get that. Don’t preclude any option shy of outright war. What doesn’t make sense, however, is the continued need to search for ways to motivate the Chinese to help out more with its menacing, next-door neighbor. The next-door neighbor that is an existential threat, especially in its own neighborhood.

We know about the Chinese rationale: not wanting an officially failed state leeching millions of refugees across the border. The Chinese also don’t want to risk a unified Korea that would be a more formidable U.S. proxy. Having said that, c’mon Beijing. Do the pragmatic, expedient, common sensical and, yes, ultimately self-serving thing, by maxing out on your overwhelming economic leverage over North Korea. No winking and nodding this time, clamp down. It would also help your case against those U.S.-S.K. war games.

* We know the U.S. Navy is pursuing an inquiry into the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after two tragically-disturbing collisions and two other avoidable accidents. One likely reason for preventable incidents: an over-reliance on technology. It breeds complacency, which leads to night-time accidents in high-traffic–military and commercial–areas.

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