Lindsey Graham is warmongering as usual, this time on North Korea:
The administration’s policy, he said, is “to deny North Korea the capability to hit America with a nuclear-tipped missile. Not to contain it.”
“Denial means preemptive war as a last resort [bold mine-DL]. That preemption is becoming more likely as their technology matures. Every missile test, every underground test of a nuclear weapon, means the marriage is more likely.”
Graham has never seen an unnecessary war he didn’t want to start, and he has been among the loudest advocates for starting one in Korea, but that is not all that interests me here. It’s his abuse of language that I want to consider. Graham talks about waging a “preemptive war,” but says that it should be waged in order to “deny” North Korea the capability to launch a nuclear-armed ICBM, and then says that it will be fought as a “last resort.” This is gibberish. If the U.S. is waging a war to deny another state the capability to launch an attack, that is preventive war pure and simple. Preventive war is not preemption, since preemption requires that there is an imminent threat to be preempted. It cannot be waged as a last resort since it is the most obvious example of using force as a first resort.
When Graham or anyone else talks about attacking North Korea in the hope of eliminating a North Korean capability, they are talking about preventive war, but they are usually careful not to call it that. Preventive war is both unjust and illegal. This has nothing to do with self-defense, and it certainly isn’t being done as a last resort. Warmongers muddle these concepts and confuse the meanings of these words in order to make the unnecessary war they want to start seem less reckless and insane to the public than it is. That is why it is important that the right names be used to describe the policy that Graham et al. want the U.S. to have, so that it is as clear as possible that a U.S. attack on North Korea wouldn’t be preempting any threat and would actually trigger a nightmare scenario in which hundreds of thousands and possibly millions could die. The danger in this case is that the North Korean government will take this rhetoric about getting ready to attack them as proof of Trump’s intentions and decide that they need to strike first.