As we have noted on several occasions recently, President Donald Trump looks at North Korea’s mounting nuclear and ICBM capabilities much more differently than his three predecessors — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
That could be due to the fact that Trump, not a politician before winning the November election, is of a completely different mindset than those three. It could be due to the fact that the North Korean nuclear and ICBM programs are maturing (and fast) on his watch. It could be a combination of both.
But make no mistake, President Trump remains adamant about “solving” the North Korean “issue,” as his top national security advisor, Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster made plain again recently. In fact, McMaster and other Trump national security figures have openly discussed “preemptive war” aimed at preventing Pyongyang from fielding a weapon system capable of threatening any part of the United States.
In fact, such discussion, it is said, has not been so pervasive since the Bush administration began discussing preemptive war in 2002 as it built its case for invading Iraq.
No one should be thinking that the Trump White House and the Pentagon are not clear-eyed about the risks involved in any preemptive strike against North Korea. And no one should believe that the administration does not prefer a diplomatic solution; it’s just that there likely isn’t one that is acceptable to either party. The North Koreans are not likely to give up the one thing that guarantees the continuance of the Kim dynasty — nuclear weapons; and the Trump administration is not likely to suddenly find it can live with a nuclear-armed North Korea capable of threatening not only U.S. allies in the region but also the American homeland.
See our complete analysis in the 25 August Executive Intelligence Summary, available by subscription only, as well as analysis on additional emerging and persistent national security threats. To subscribe, click here.