North Korea, Iran and Obama’s Big Bluff

North Korea’s nuclear test this week, coming on the heels of last December’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile along with reports (here and here) that Pyongyang is developing a mobile missile launcher, underscores a point I’ve argued in earlier posts (here and here): It is exceedingly difficult for Washington to stop a rogue regime determined to develop nuclear weapon capabilities, especially if it located in a strategic part of the world, has powerful patrons, and is able to inflict retribution on important U.S. interests in the region.  This lesson is all the more poignant given the Obama administration’s contention that its policy of strategic patience actually represents a harder line vis-à-vis North Korea than what the George W. Bush administration pursued.  It also is one that gives Iranian leaders all the more reason to discount Mr. Obama’s tough talk regarding their own nuclear ambitions.* Continue reading