When then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was asked by the Associated Press in May 2007 to reveal a hidden talent, he told the reporter: "I'm a pretty good poker player." Being able to call bluffs and recognize poor hands would be especially useful right now in dealing with North Korea's torpedoing of a South Korean ship (and death of 46 sailors).
Since South Korea announced on Thursday that its investigation found North Korea responsible for the March torpedoing, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has been winning the high-stakes international relations poker game. South Korea only labeled the torpedoing a "military provocation" (how many dead sailors is an act of war?), and promised to be "very prudent in all response measures we take." It made it clear that there won't be any military, only an economic, response.
North Korea, in contrast, has been acting like the injured party and ratcheting up the stakes. It (predictably) denied the torpedoing, (laughably) demanded that its own investigators travel to South Korea, and (ridiculously) declared that any South Korean response would be viewed as war. "From this time on, we will regard the situation as a phase of war and will be responding resolutely to all problems in North-South relations," its Orwellian-sounding Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland declared.
As for the U.S., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set the tone by announcing that "we cannot allow this attack on South Korea to go unanswered by the international community." The words "international community" (cue: United Nations) hardly scares North Korea. Meaningful U.N. sanctions are unlikely as China--Pyongyang's biggest supporter--has a veto on the Security Council. (China termed the torpedoing "unfortunate," a phrase more suitable to describe accidentally spilling wine on a foreign diplomat than for deliberately killing sailors.)