The United States is taking prudent steps and not being too bellicose when it comes to dealing with North Korea and its dictator, Kim Jong Un.
Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that the United States will not accept the isolated totalitarian state as a nuclear power.
Kim continues to take a defiant posture, moving missiles around that could put them in range of targets of interest to the United States, including Japan. He has said his forces have permission to wage nuclear war, and he's refuted the armistice that brought a halt to armed hostilities on the Korean peninsula in the 1950s. It would be a stretch to say that hostilities actually ceased because diplomatic thrusts and parries and rhetoric have been traded between the free South and the totalitarian North through the decades.
The current issue involving the new dictator of North Korea is one of proper response. To become too tense, too ready to strike could prompt the very thing everyone should want to avoid: War, especially one that could be started by a mistake made by heavily armed opponents standing literally yards apart with guns trained.
To stay too loose could leave open the possibility, however unlikely, that the North really is ready to take a nuclear option, catching the South, and the West, asleep on the defense.
The U.S. has nearly 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, trying to keep the uneasy peace that has been maintained for decades. Those troops deserve all the backup that can be mustered without triggering a heightening of the endless Korean War.
Kerry is headed to Asia to discuss Korea this week. It will be the first true test of the Obama administration's second-term Secretary of State, and it includes a focus on an existing hot-spot with real shooting and bombing and terror already under way, with weekend stops in the Middle East.
Analysts provide cause for some glimmer of uneasy, non-nuclear peace continuing for the forseeable future: Kim has made it clear he intends to restart a reactor to produce materials to build North Korean nuclear bombs, which probably means the North doesn't have the materials yet to build a working, large scale nuke, let alone one with a rocket capable of reaching the West Coast.