What could be more American than “bombs bursting in air” on the Fourth of July, Michael Kinsley notwithstanding? Hawaii may get more Americana than it wants for its Independence Day celebrations, thanks to North Korea’s nutcase dictator, Kim Jong-Il. Kim has threatened to shoot a long-range ballistic missile at our 50th state, taking provocation to the edge of a cassus belli:
North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese news report said Thursday, as Russia and China urged the regime to return to international disarmament talks on its rogue nuclear program.
The missile, believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea’s Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily, Japan’s top-selling newspaper. It cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.
The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said.
While the newspaper speculated the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, it said the missile would not be able to hit Hawaii’s main islands, which are about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula.
Previous launches of the Taepodong-2 have proven unsuccessful, although incrementally improving, so it’s hard to determine with certainty that it could not hit the Hawaiian archipelago. Anything launched in that direction, though, would be an act of war, if the US so chose to act on it. Kim either has a death wish, or he’s taken the measure of Barack Obama and knows that he will suffer few consequences for the launch.
Joe Biden warned the US that dictators would test Obama and create international crises to see how the inexperienced Commander in Chief would respond. Biden also warned that Obama’s response would look wrong, and that the Left would have to rally to his side. That was widely interpreted to mean that Obama would simply refuse to respond at all to provocations, but it’s hard to imagine that a missile launch at an American state would get no response at all.
So what will Obama do? Pretend it didn’t happen, ask for another strongly-worded memo from the UN, or start providing real consequences for Kim’s actions? Say, perhaps, a test of the missile defense system on any launch from the Korean Peninsula? So far, the Obama administration has prompted nothing but escalation from Kim, who apparently believes that he’s tested Obama enough and found him wanting.