John Feffer comments on the abortive Cha nomination and the possibility of a U.S. attack on North Korea:
The rejection of Victor Cha is a very disturbing sign of the thinking inside the Trump administration.
“I thought the Trump administration was bluffing on a preventive strike,” says Tom Wright, a foreign policy fellow at Brookings. “But the news about Cha no longer being nominated is the type of costly signaling that convinces me I may have been wrong. They are seriously considering it.”
That comment from Wright reminded me of this Susan Glasser article that I read earlier this morning. Glasser writes:
Another veteran U.S. government North Korea watcher told me recently that McMaster and other White House officials shared a “messianic fervor” about confronting Kim on his nuclear weapons that made them much more serious about a military course of action. “They view it as a moment in history,” the former official said. “If people have to die it may be better to let them die now.” [bold mine-DL]
That description may sound like an exaggeration, but it lines up pretty well with what we have heard from McMaster and other public supporters of an attack on North Korea. One of the recurring themes in their statements is the idea that the U.S. is “running out of time,” as if North Korea didn’t already have nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. That suggests that the advocates of an attack imagine that there is still an opportunity to “prevent” a threat to the U.S. from emerging. They are wrong about that, but they aren’t paying attention to the evidence that they are. Another ugly notion that keeps cropping up among hard-liners is that it is better to attack North Korea now so that people die “over there” instead of here in America. If McMaster and other officials in the White House take for granted that North Korea is undeterrable and a major war is inevitable, they might actually believe that it is better to start the war sooner. This is fanatical thinking that is misinformed by a deeply flawed understanding of the North Korean regime, but we need to take seriously that this is how top officials in the Trump administration are thinking about this issue.