President Barack Obama surely has enough on his plate without having to deal with North Korean leaders who seem eager for war. Yet Pyongyang continues to engage in bellicose rhetoric and behavior.
During "normal" times, North Korea's decades-long policy of aggressiveness has been worrisome enough - to the point that the world community still has not mustered the fortitude to deal with it. Now, with many nations in the grip of recession and the United States embroiled in two overseas conflicts, North Korean leaders may well have decided the timing is right for them to engage in more bullying.
North Korea test-fired a medium-range missile during the weekend. It has detained two American journalists and a South Korean worker. It has vowed to walk away from disarmament talks if sanctions are imposed over the missile test. And it has threatened that South Korean participation in an international Proliferation Security Initiative would be viewed as "a declaration of war."
So secretive, brutal and at times irrational is the North Korean leadership that no one really knows whether it is ready and willing to go to war. Pyongyang has used that as a strategy. If it is allowed to continue, North Korea will perfect long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Clearly, decisive action needs to be taken to prevent that.