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McMaster’s Preventive War Lunacy

Gen. H.R. McMaster in 2013. By CSIS/Flickr

Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster now works for the poorly-named Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), and in his new position he is back once again to talking up the virtues of preparing for preventive war against North Korea:

McMaster says the U.S. needs to “prepare for at least the option of the use of military force” to convince Kim to denuclearize.

To adapt Bismarck’s famous quote about preventive war, McMaster is saying that we should prepare for the option of suicide for fear of death. Nothing would be less likely to convince Kim to “denuclearize” than launching an attack on his country. Even preparing such an attack in attempt to scare him would convince him that he must keep his nuclear deterrent no matter what. It turns out that threatening to destroy someone causes him to seek the means to protect himself against attack. Since North Korea already has nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, preparing for an attack on North Korea amounts to laying the groundwork for the unnecessary deaths of millions of people. TAC contributor Harry Kazianis commented on the report over the weekend:

No wonder former Secretary Mattis reportedly called McMaster unstable said that the then-National Security Advisor was going to get us all killed. It speaks volumes about both him and FDD that he is still indulging the insane idea of an attack on North Korea more than a year since he left government service.

McMaster was also quoted as saying that it is “difficult to overstate the threat from a nuclear North Korea,” but he seems determined to try. No doubt his new employer is encouraging all of his worst, threat-inflating instincts, but McMaster wouldn’t be at FDD now if he hadn’t already been like that before. This is a useful reminder that every one of Trump’s National Security Advisors has been a menace in different ways, and all of them have been incorrigibly hawkish and reckless in their views about the use of force.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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