On this Good Friday as Christians around the world remember the crucifixion of Jesus. China is warning of war. Two elements fueled China’s fears. One was North Korea’s belligerent boast that it could test nuclear weapons at will. The second was the continuing movement of US navy vessels in the direction of the Korean peninsula.

Tit for tat

Xinhua, China’s news voice, quoted China’s foreign minister Wang Yi saying that North and South Korea and the US were “engaging in Tit For Tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering,”

Has China stepped back?

Just yesterday it seemed that President Xi of China has agreed to do what it could to help ease matters in what now appears to be a menacing stand-off.

Today the tone of the foreign minister’s remarks suggests that the three disputants he named are in this alone. It is hard to imagine a more volatile international situation. President Trump’s recent behavior offers little hope that he will retreat from the attitude that led him to conduct two substantial attacks within a few days of one another.

South Korea is affected

South Korea is divided between those who cherish the hard line against the North that has been the stock in trade of recent regimes. There is a liberal element now seeking power that is disposed to work things out with the North. But with things in motion, it is hard to believe that South Korea will have much influence on either its severed half northward or the man who sits in the White House in far-away Washington.

Trump is anyone's guess

There is little sign that the bellicosity on between North Korea and the US will recede. Thursday, President Trump tweeted, “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.” If his confidence in China is somewhat diminished, perhaps his mention of allies would suggest his own instincts might be subject to modification.

Caution is not ill-advised

There has been no hostile action toward the US by North Korea and it cannot be argued that it is in US vital interest to engage in preemptive action when it has been equally bellicose in the language department.

The power of this country has no equal. That power would be compromised if it could be lured into unwise uses. We have the resources to know when there is a clear and present danger. Given the present atmosphere, this could be a most difficult Easter.

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