North Korea has to bring home a prize to show China that it's worth subsidizing. And the prize can't just be humiliating Obama. Anyone can do that these days.
The entire North Korean crisis is starting to look like a comedy routine.
Obama, Hagel and Kerry unveiled a plan to reassure South Korea that America had its back with an empty "show of force" by flying bombers near North Korea. This plan was also supposed to make North Korea come to the negotiating table.
The three stooges bluffed and North Korea bluffed harder. So the Foreign Policy Stooges panicked and began pulling back afraid of making North Korea too upset. Having outbluffed the United States one more time, North Korea is pushing even harder, deploying nukes and telling all foreigners to leave the country.
Obama folded, but North Korea isn't just out to humiliate Obama, it wants to score tangible accomplishments. This began as a plan to build up South Korea, but the practical outcome is likely to be a diminution of American support for South Korea because it carries too high a price.
If that sounds farfetched, that is how the United States lost China and then eventually sold out Taiwan. Truman drew the line at Korea, but then the left broke the line at Vietnam. South Korea has remained free, but that could change very fast if China decides to change that and Obama decides to focus on what really matters, browbeating American gun owners.
China doesn't want North Korea to rock the boat too much right now, but North Korea has to bring home a prize to show China that it's worth subsidizing. And the prize can't just be humiliating Obama. Anyone can do that these days. A gang of militia thugs did that in Benghazi. So the endgame is to force the United States to show that it will back down on South Korea if it is sufficiently threatened.
North Korea has partly achieved this goal, but it is pushing harder in the hopes of forcing a crisis that will turn the appeasement levers forcing some understanding to be signed to avert war. An understanding that will move more American forces out of South Korea.