Robert Kaplan notes in the FT (Attacks that may signal a Pyongyang implosion) that the Obama administration has up to now been emphasizing its focus on East Asia, partly as respite from the mixed news (at best) from Afghanistan and Iraq. So much for that. The optimistic take on renewed North Korean hostility is that it is a sign of a regime in its death throes, but be careful what you wish for, says Kaplan.

A sudden implosion could unleash the mother of all humanitarian problems, with massive refugee flows toward the Chinese border and a semi-starving population of 23m becoming the ward of the international community - in effect the ward of the US, Chinese and South Korean armies. Yet while regime change in the North is welcome in the abstract, we should remember that the only thing that might be worse than a totalitarian government is no government at all: a lesson we all should have learnt from Iraq.