Trump’s National Security Advisor dismissed any possibility of talking to North Korea without preconditions, and once again insisted on the administration’s impossible goal:

The national security adviser also said that because North Korea “is a regime that uses extortion on a routine basis as a part of their policy,” there is a singular goal the U.S. must pursue — denuclearization.

“Denuclearization is the only viable objective and if we all focus on that, we have a strong chance for success,” McMaster said.

The U.S. will not succeed in forcing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program whether “we all focus” on this goal or not. Our focus, or lack thereof, doesn’t change the reality that North Korea isn’t going to give up its nuclear weapons willingly. The U.S. doesn’t have a “strong chance for success” in this case, because it is chasing after something that can’t be had short of a bloody invasion and regime change. Since denuclearization is a fantasy, the continued pursuit of it invites disaster for the U.S., the Koreas, and the surrounding region.

McMaster’s single-minded focus on a goal that the U.S. can’t achieve means that he and Trump are ignoring the viable and preferable options besides this one. Trump already has poor judgment, but it really doesn’t help when his top adviser on national security matters suffers from myopia about one of the most important issues of the day. Trump and McMaster are taking the U.S. down a dead-end road that will put the administration in a position of having to climb down from their maximalist demands or resort to using force. Members of Congress and the public need to wake up to the dangerous path that the Trump administration is leading us on, and they need to object strongly to an unrealistic policy that is needlessly increasing the chances of a major war.