Obama's North Korean Bluff Collapses, Kim Jong Un Wins

Obama couldn't even handle a meaningless bluff and shut down a scheduled show of force to avoid upsetting a pint-size dictator.

Two drivers played a game of chicken. One was driving an eighteen-wheeler and the other was driving a golf cart. Unfortunately the driver of the eighteen-wheeler was barely tall enough to reach the pedal and had gone to see Olympus Has Fallen over the weekend and panicked badly and drove into a ditch while the golf cart driver laughed and laughed.

In entirely unrelated news, North Korea and China succeeded in outbluffing Obama. This comes as a surprise to absolutely no one.

The U.S. is putting a pause to what several officials described as a step-by-step plan the Obama administration approved earlier this year, dubbed "the playbook," that laid out the sequence and publicity plans for U.S. shows of force during annual war games with South Korea. The playbook included well-publicized flights in recent weeks near North Korea by nuclear-capable B-52 and stealth B-2 bombers, as well as advanced F-22 warplanes.

The U.S. stepped back from the plans this week, as U.S. officials began to worry that the North, which has a small nuclear arsenal and an unpredictable new leader, may be more provoked than the U.S. had intended, the officials said.

North Korea played the "I'm crazy and I've got nukes" card and Obama panicked and packed up his bluff. What's sad is that Obama couldn't even handle a meaningless bluff and shut down a scheduled show of force to avoid upsetting a pint-size dictator.

Obama naturally gets into bowing position because the only people he's really capable of beating up on are Americans and American allies. Push him a little and he folds faster than laundry.

Officials said the U.S. didn't believe North Korea had any imminent plans to take military action in response to the exercises. Rather, the shift reflects concerns within the administration that the North, caught off guard, could do something rash, contrary to intelligence assessments showing that it is unlikely to respond militarily to the U.S. show of force.

Translation: the man who personally parachuted in and killed Osama panicked badly even though his own intel people told him there was nothing to worry about.

The White House has put the next steps in the playbook on hold while it assesses the North's posture, officials say, though the administration hasn't ruled out future shows of force.

Okay you bluffed us, but in the future we might bluff back, unless you bluff again in which case we'll fold again.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel—one of the playbook's chief backers—said during an address that the U.S. and other powers in the region don't want to make a "complicated, combustible situation" even worse. He urged the North to tone down its rhetoric, holding out the prospect of a "path to peace."

Everything Chuck Hagel says should come with a laugh track. So Hagel's bluff went to pieces because his boss is a wimp. But Hagel wants North Korea to tone down the rhetoric... even though it was the rhetoric that shut down his playbook.

So why should North Korea stop doing what works? Because otherwise Hagel will cry?

The U.S. military's Pacific Command began devising the playbook plan amid a series of provocations by the North, including the launch of a long-range rocket in December, in preparation for the annual military exercise with the South.

Obama's Asia pivot consisted of a bluff in response to a real threat. The bluff has folded. And this is why the Iran line is just as dead.

The U.S. plan was discussed during several high-level White House meetings, according to participants. The effort was backed by Mr. Hagel in one of his first acts as defense secretary. John Kerry, the new secretary of state, supported the Pentagon, as did other top administration officials, according to meeting participants.

Jane Fonda was invited to the meeting, but could not make it. Tom Hayden however sent his support and suggested calling North Korea and making scary "Boo" sounds into the phone.

In the deliberations, supporters said it was better for the U.S. to control the escalating steps, to ensure the situation didn't spin out of control.

It's not retreat, it's repositioning.

"There's some sense that we overachieved in a way, that we were so successful [in sending messages to the North] that there is consideration of pulling back somewhat while continuing to reassure the South Koreans," a senior administration official said.

It's not a retreat, it's a victory. North Korea was so convinced that we were tough, that by running away we can reassure everyone that we really aren't.

And that's a victory. In Obamerica.