Once again, the game of Junta suggests a way to view current events.* No, not Thailand. Well, that too, but I was thinking of the new/old Korean crisis. The torpedoing of a South Korean ship seems to be the equivalent of a coup excuse--the playing of a card that creates an opportunity to change the government. Here, it is a crisis excuse card.
So, the question is why does North Korea want a crisis? The alternative would be that the commander of the North Korean vessel that shot the torpedo was acting on his own--possible but highly unlikely. The problem is that we really do not know what opportunities this crisis provides for North Korean elites at home or abroad. Perhaps they were feeling ignored with all of the attention going to Iran. The only clear thing is that sinking a ship is a risky move and fits into a broader game. That is, unless someone leaned on the wrong button. But betting that way is unwise.
What to do? The NY article notes how little leverage everyone has, so I am not sure there is much we can do. We can sink one of their ships but NK could escalate. We could ignore it, but then NK could become the pirates of the Korean seas, sinking whatever they want. Deterrence does not seem to work here. Perhaps they want another infusion of cash, food, whatever. Any suggestions?
As I always say, if it was an easy problem, it would have been solved already.
* It seems to be the case that West End Games is dead again, so we cannot stock up in new Junta games.