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The President’s North Korea Delusions

Yesterday I wrote about the president being at war with reality. This morning he gives us another example of what that looks like:

No one was seriously contemplating war with North Korea until last year when the president began making blood-curdling threats about destroying the country and his then-National Security Advisor McMaster kept floating the possibility of starting a preventive war. If it were not for Trump and his belligerent rhetoric, no one would have thought the unthinkable and insane option of war with North Korea was a real possibility. It is an improvement that Trump is no longer making reckless and irresponsible threats to start an unnecessary and illegal war, but that doesn’t let him off the hook for having made them in the past. He certainly doesn’t get credit for the absence of a war that he was threatening to start a few months earlier.

The alternative to the current process with North Korea doesn’t have to be war. Trump, McMaster, Graham, and Bolton have been just about the only ones to insist that North Korea’s continued possession of its nuclear weapons and missiles is so unacceptable that illegal preventive war is worth considering. Most of the administration’s critics have been urging them to acknowledge reality and recognize that deterrence remains the practical alternative to a disarmament that isn’t happening and a war that must not happen. North Korea is now a nuclear weapons state, and it isn’t going to cease being one, so the U.S. and its allies have to adapt to that. To that end, the administration needs to lower its expectations and reduce its demands for North Korea instead of exaggerating and lying about what the process has produced so far.

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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