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The Hamilton Spectator
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Wednesday May 26, 2010
For years, North Korea has thumped its chest and pumped its fists, shooting ill-fated missiles toward its neighbours and parading its million-strong military with tanks and artillery systems. Now that Kim Jong-il is finally getting the international attention he has craved, the enigmatic leader is rolling the drums of war as Washington steps into the fray.

But President Obama could be walking into the very minefield he has warned against in the past. The same Obama who railed against his predecessor George Bush's "unwise" war in Iraq for wasting US military resources and distracting troops from catching Osama bin Laden, is now helping escalate tensions against North Korea. With Iraq nowhere near a done deal and the war in Afghanistan gaining steam, the president is nonetheless backing moves that could lead to the type of "dumb war" he foreshadowed in 2002, with undetermined length, cost and consequences.

Obama threw his full, "unequivocal" support behind Seoul, directing military commanders to link up closely with South Korean counterparts to "ensure readiness and to deter future aggression".

Just as top US diplomat Hillary Clinton toured the region and spoke of a "highly precarious" situation, the Pentagon and South Korea announced plans for joint naval exercises to take place soon in a powerful show of force that would include anti-submarine drills in the Yellow Sea.

Ratcheting up the pressure further, South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, is redesignating the North as his country's "principal enemy" for the first time since their detente in 2004, cutting off trade ties, denying the North's access to shipping lanes and urging punitive UN measures for the sinking of the Cheonan that killed 46 sailors on March 26. Continued...

Tensions Rise Between the Koreas
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