Ever since the campaign and the infamous "3 a.m." ad, every foreign policy crisis or controversy gets advanced as Obama's 3 a.m. moment by somebody. Here at the Season, we opined back in May that the real 3 a.m. moment was fast approaching, and that one of two places was going to provoke that call: N. Korea or Pakistan. The only question was which country was going to win the race for top foreign policy headache honors.
Its beginning to look like the winner will be N. Korea. The US military is tracking a cargo ship that left port in N. Korea on June 18th, apparently bound for Singapore. Operating currently in Chinese waters, its headed out to international waters and the US Defense officials have told Fox News that the USS John McCain will intercept it. That ship is positioning itself to do that.
Now, the UN sanctions only allow the US to hail the North Korean ship and demand to be allowed to conduct a search, but not forcibly board it I cannot think of anything that smacks of impotence more than having an American warship ask for permission to inspect, be summarily refused and then have it go on its merry way while we issue empty protests. The only way that makes sense is if you're building the case for UN authorization to board ships at will, but that would seem redundant given N. Korea's manifest intransigence. So if President Obama indeed orders the USS John McCain (isn't that a delicious irony) to actually intercept the Kang Nam, we will indeed have a ring side seat for Obama's 3 a.m. moment. Stay tuned.
Update: Nightwatch reports - "
Political Season Response: We are about to find out if Obama has the cahones or not. The N. Koreans are a thug regime. They take what they want and they respect only strength and resolve greater than their own. Obama has a smart, detached intellect, that much we know. Now we are about to find out whether his spine is made of steel or rubber. Its gut check time.
Update II: Obama, today on N. Korea - "North Korea has a path toward rejoining the international community, and we hope they take that path," said Mr. Obama on Monday in a prerecorded interview on CBS. "What we're not going to do is to reward belligerence and provocation in the way that's been done in the past."