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A grave international problem

It is tempting sometimes to view North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un as the little dictator who cried missile. Unfortunately, he gets away with his saber rattling too often.

He did it again earlier this month, ordering his military to fire three short-range rockets off the country’s east coast. They flew as far as 125 miles toward Japan.

Presumably, the launching was Kim’s tantrum in reaction to widespread international criticism of an earlier military exercise. North Korean officials had threatened to take “momentous” action over the condemnations.

Kim, like his father and grandfather before him, has become a skilled practitioner of brinkmanship — keeping the rest of the world worried that he will do something truly crazy, such as attacking his neighbor, South Korea. The climate of fear has expanded over the years. After the most recent missile launch, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga commented that North Korea has become “a grave problem for the entire international community.”

That is just how Kim likes it.

His broken promises to ease back on weapons development — including both nuclear weapons and long-range rockets — were merely part of his strategy.

No thoughtful person wants war with North Korea. Even a limited conflict could include millions of deaths. But the Kim dynasty cannot be permitted to trade threats for help with an economy so geared to the military and the rulers’ comfort and security that the North Korean people suffer terribly.

At some point, a reckoning must come. U.S. officials and others in the world community must do all in their power to ensure that the Kim regime collapses from the inside.

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