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The Trump Administration Clings to Its Failed North Korea Policy

H.R. McMaster made [1] some more absurd claims about North Korea and its nuclear weapons yesterday:

So, this would be the most destabilizing development, I think, in the post-World War II period, and it is something that places us at direct risk, but places the world at risk.

North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is undesirable and regrettable, but it doesn’t even qualify as one of the ten most destabilizing things to have happened since the end of WWII. I know U.S. officials enjoy hyperbole and threat inflation, but McMaster is shredding whatever credibility he has left when he says things like this. The world as a whole is not at much greater risk with a North Korean arsenal than it is without one, and since North Korea has acquired its arsenal primarily to protect itself against attack it isn’t trying to threaten “the world.” McMaster speculates that North Korea would sell its hard-won technology to others, but he has no proof that this is going to happen, and he never makes an argument that it is worth going to war to stop that from happening.

McMaster evades the main questions he is asked. First Chris Wallace challenges him to explain why the U.S. should wage preventive war on North Korea:

You have talked about preventive war — that, at some point, if we can’t get a diplomatic solution — and that’s your phrase, preventive war. What’s the threshold for that?

Wallace then asks why the U.S. can’t live with deterring North Korea: “Why can’t we, basically, coexist under that unpleasant reality with North Korea?” McMaster never gives a straight answer to either of these questions, but just asserts that Kim isn’t rational as if that settled everything. He doesn’t deny that he supports preventive war as an option, and he never makes any serious effort to argue why it would be necessary. There is a lot of hand-waving about “blackmail,” but this is a distraction from the fact that preventive war can’t be justified and has no legal basis.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about McMaster’s performances this weekend [2] is that they show how stubbornly the administration is sticking to an obviously failed policy of forced denuclearization. He keeps repeating his talking points from months ago as if nothing has changed over the last year. The administration remains locked into a North Korea policy divorced from reality, and they remain oblivious to the possibility that this may be the best opportunity for diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang that the U.S. has had in years. That would be bad news at any time, but with this president and his hawkish advisers it is a disaster in the making.

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2 Comments To "The Trump Administration Clings to Its Failed North Korea Policy"

#1 Comment By RenoDino On December 4, 2017 @ 10:26 am

What Mcmasters is saying is that the end of the Unipolar World defined by American Empire would cease to exist if it’s called into question by the nuclear capabilities of a third world rogue regime capable of destroying the Homeland.

You may argue that this is not true, but to those generals and politicians who built the Empire and now defend it, this situation is clearly a big Red Line that must not be crossed if the Empire is to survive in its current form–the one in place since WWII.

Allowing one of the smallest and poorest counties on earth to threaten us with mass destruction for whatever reason is unacceptable and McMasters has clearly stated that on several occasions. If America can’t defend itself, it can’t defend its client states, otherwise known as our allies, that define the Empire. The whole Project of Empire will thus come crashing down on their watch and they will forever be known throughout history as the ones who lost an Empire that could and should have ruled the earth for a thousand years.

Both China and Russia are also keenly aware of this critical moment and what it represents. They are offering us a way out that will greatly dimish our standing and the ability to call the shots with a nuclearized N. Korea on the sidelines.

This is an existential moment for the Empire. The stakes for its survival have never been higher. That is what McMasters is saying and why Lindsey Graham should be taken seriously when he warns that dependents of Americans should start leaving the Korean peninsula.

Polls have shown that a majority of Americans support an attack on N. Korea as a preemptive measure to neutralize the threat. They see the current situation as one that cannot be tolerated for any length of time. They also know, deep in their bones, what they have sacrificed to achieve our Exceptional Nation Status and what they have to show for it. They are not about to give up what little they have left.

#2 Comment By b. On December 4, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

“He keeps repeating his talking points from months ago as if nothing has changed over the last year.”

Nothing has changed. The US has become an appetite, a hunger – it has to be able to move forward towards more impunity, striving to be able to impose its demands without any restrictions whatsoever.

It is impossible for the US establishment to consider, much less accept, the end of impunity. This posture will only die one funeral at a time, and we should hope that the proponents of this hegemony at all cost will be the ones to lead the way.