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Cooler Foreign Policy Heads Than Trump Have Been Calling for North Korea Regime Change for Years

As people rightly freak out over a president invoking nuclear war, a trip through recent history shows widespread support for pre-emptive bombing.

There's got to be a morning after. ||| MGMMGMA few things have happened since yesterday afternoon's blunt warning from President Donald Trump that "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States" or "they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before." One is that North Korea promptly made an explicit threat to United States territory in Guam, musing about creating "an enveloping fire at the areas around" the island's extensive U.S. military assets using "medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12." This was not the first such threat from Pyongyang, though it was more explicit than most, and certainly the first to come just hours after a sitting U.S. president invoked the imagery of nuclear holocaust.

The second development is that a host of politicians and pundits have come out swinging against the president's rhetorical belligerence, led—no surprise here—by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "I take exception to the president's comments because you've got to be sure you can do what you say you're going to do," McCain said in an interview with KTAR News in Phoenix Tuesday. "The great leaders I've seen don't threaten unless they're ready to act, and I'm not sure President Trump is ready to act."

McCain, who will surely be treated by the media as a foreign policy wise man during this crisis, has been ready to act militarily against North Korea for nearly a quarter century; in 1994 he even used the word "extinction." In January 2003 he wrote a Weekly Standard piece on Pyongyang titled "Rogue State Rollback," slamming as "dangerously shortsighted" the Bush administration's ruling out another military intervention on the Korean peninsula, even though "force could eventually prove to be the only means to prevent North Korea from acquiring a nuclear arsenal." Excerpt:

I had better alt text here before. ||| ReasonReasonThis rapid deterioration of our resolve is as reckless as it is disingenuous. North Korea and Iraq present different faces of the same danger. Today, North Korea poses a greater danger than Iraq, and confronting it presents a more difficult challenge. That is all the more reason to take whatever action necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from becoming a threat of equal magnitude and just as difficult to confront....

The use of military force to defend vital American security interests must always be a last resort, as it is in this crisis. But if we fail to achieve the international cooperation necessary to end this threat, then the countries in the region should know with certainty that while they may risk their own populations, the United States will do whatever it must to guarantee the security of the American people. And spare us the usual lectures about American unilateralism. We would prefer the company of North Korea's neighbors, but we will make do without it if we must.

McCain is not some kind of foreign policy outlier when it comes to North Korea—if he was, he wouldn't keep getting asked to come on the Sunday shows. For a glimpse into how mainstream NoKo interventionism has been, look no further than the GOP presidential debate 17 months ago in Manchester, New Hampshire. There, moderator Martha Raddatz, noting that Kim Jong-un's regime had just that day launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, asked a serious of increasingly irritable questions, such as: "If you were Commander in Chief tonight would you have order the U.S. military to destroy that missile pre-emptively on the launch pad to prevent North Korea from becoming an even graver threat?" and "Why not tell us whether you would pre-emptively strike a missile on a launchpad that threatens the U.S.?" and "Senator Rubio, I'm talking about a pre-emptive strike on the launch pad."

WHY NOT PRE-EMPTIVE BOMB? ||| ABCABCThe responses ranged from laments that bombing was now too difficult ("It's why you prevent them from getting nuclear weapons in the first place," Ted Cruz replied, "because your hands are somewhat tied once they have nukes"), to ill-fitting sports metaphors (Jeb Bush: "The next president of the United States is gonna have to get the United States back in the game, and if a preemptive strike is necessary to keep us safe, then we should do it"), to John Kasich's blustery calls for intercepting all shipping and air traffic from North Korea while maybe egging on Japan to topple the regime. (Cross-examined at a subsequent debate whether he'd really risk a major war, Kasich stated: "I would love to see regime change in North Korea.")

Who was one of the least overtly bellicose on the subject? Donald Trump. Asked by Raddatz the direct and presciently-relevant-to-today questions of, "Mr. Trump, do you have a red line with North Korea? Would you consider military action? And how far would you let them go?" the candidate criticized Barack Obama for a while, then mostly laid the problem at China's doorstep:

China says they don't have that good of control over North Korea. They have tremendous control. I deal with the Chinese all of the time. I do tremendous—the largest bank in the world is in one of my buildings in Manhattan. I deal with them. They tell me. They have total, absolute control, practically, of North Korea. They are sucking trillions of dollars out of our country—they're rebuilding China with the money they take out of our country. I would get on with China, let China solve that problem. They can do it quickly and surgically. That's what we should do with North Korea.

That approach has yet to bear fruit. Most of the other instances North Korea was discussed during primary season, Trump took it as an opportunity to lament that allies such as South Korea and Japan were not paying their fair share for collective defense.

The one time denuclearization came up meaningfully during the general election debates, Trump reiterated his China-centric focus, but then also made some other statements of particular interest today, including: "The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons....It is the single greatest threat that this country has," and then this passage:

I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it's over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can't take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries, you look at North Korea, we're doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea.

American politics is so dislikable. ||| NBCNBCBizarrely, Hillary Clinton's policy views on North Korea were never interrogated in her three debates with Trump, nor in any of the 10 Democratic presidential debates, save for one brief section with Bernie Sanders back in February 2016, in which she said stuff like "We do have to worry about North Korea" and "We do have to try to get the countries in the region to work with us to do everything we can to confine, and constrain them." In September 2016, after another missile test, Clinton sounded more hawkish: "I strongly condemn this reckless action, which—coupled with its recent series of missile launches—makes clear Pyongyang's determination to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon....This constitutes a direct threat to the United States, and we cannot and will never accept this."

As secretary of state, Clinton had championed the oft-derided "strategic patience" that President Trump has since declared has now run out, though she was always quick to brag about rallying countries in the region to support sanctions, an activity that the current administration is spending considerable time on as well. And the Democrats' 2016 vice presidential pick, Tim Kaine, did say during the lone VP debate that if North Korea was about to launch a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the U.S., that "Look, a president should take action to defend the United States against imminent threat. You have to."

Like most intractable-seeming policy challenges, North Korea's nuclearization is damnably hard to fix. And as in many global crises, the urge to locate some kind of special problem-solving button in Washington may well be making things worse. As Ed Krayewski pointed out yesterday, the dominant superpower's erratic behavior has produced some unintended incentives out there on the periphery of the nuclear club. U.S. politics being the gutter sport it is, partisans of the two dominant tribes will ignore their own contributions to the existing pathology, suffer little penalty for constantly advocating new targets to bomb, and set up bizarrely unrealistic expectations about what the latest Great Man will do.

"When Donald Trump is president of the United States," a smug Mike Pence predicted, absurdly, in the vice presidential debate, "we're not going to have the...kind of posture in the world that has Russia invading Crimea and Ukraine, that has the Chinese building new islands in the South China Sea, that has literally the world, including North Korea, flouting American power."

The Trump administration has been big on the potential upside of "strategic unpredictability." We will soon see whether that approach is better for long-term peace and security than either strategic patience or the perennial urge to have Washington police the world's red lines.

Photo Credit: MGM

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  • Domestic Dissident||

    No normal people are "freaking out" over his blustery comment, only a bunch of Obamafags in the JournoList concern trolling everyone pretending to freak out.

    It's the exact same thing as back when Reagan joked "I have outlawed Russia forever, the bombing starts in five minutes". Only a complete and total fucking moron actually thought he was being serious.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You have unusual insight into the minds of complete and total fucking morons.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    It's the exact same thing as back when Reagan joked "I have outlawed Russia forever, the bombing starts in five minutes".

    No, it really is not. If you believe it is, you are a historical illiterate and/or a deluded fool.

  • Eric||

    "It's the exact same thing as back when Reagan joked "I have outlawed Russia forever, the bombing starts in five minutes". Only a complete and total fucking moron actually thought he was being serious."

    Reagan was joking around on a hot mic/camera. Are you saying that Trump was joking around?

  • Tony||

    What's funnier than burning alive millions of innocent people?

  • Number 2||

    Burning you, perhaps?

  • timbo||

    Ooo, OOoo, OOoo I know!!

    Is it starving, torturing, and murdering civilians in communist countries?

  • Tony||

    So it's OK when capitalists do it?

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Oh jeez Tony just went full Marxist

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Listen: nuking a billion people is just as much a policy as NOT nuking a billion people, and we WILL have a policy.

    (I promise I'm not psycho.)

  • timbo||

    The delicate genius has a policy - George Costanza

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Yes comrade, it would be. except those capitalist devils keep their people fed. Sadly, our wonderful comrades in Venezuela are not doing so well in that regard. But nothing matters except marxism, and the state, eh comrade Tony?

  • CatoTheChipper||

    DJIA 22000
    Gold 1275
    Dollar stable

    Nobody is freaking out. Fake news.

    And don't forget about "bomb, bomb, bomb / bomb Iran".

  • Tony||

    Keep defending Trump. Undoubtedly history will proclaim him one of the greats.

  • timbo||

    Ok Jethro, I'll do this again.

    No one with a brain thinks trump is a good guy, a small government guy, or a free market capitalist. Most of us on this site subscribe to those three principals.

    It is clear that you are too dim to understand that. You are also clearly dumb enough to think Barack Obama, who is the opposite of these three ideals, is an intelligent person. You also think that government run healthcare not only works but you think we should have that here now. You refuse to learn even the slightest snippet of history.
    You spell out your ignorance every time you make a comment.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Yeah I don't think he'll ever be up in that top 10 ranking with the likes of such greats as Woodrow Wilson

  • BYODB||

    Woodrow Wilson should have taken a long walk off a short pier.

  • ||

    It's the exact same thing as back when Khrushchev said "We will bury you". Only a complete and total fucking moron actually thought he wasn't paraphrasing an old Russian saying about outliving an enemy.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    That's a very interesting point but I think the bigger question will be whether the next Fifth Column podcast is going to include any more sudden n-bombs with a hard R.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    With all of the the various maladies Welch is currently suffering from, I am impressed that he put in the effort to crank out this piece.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Maybe it's his therapy.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Hey Welch, GET MICHAEL MALICE ON TO TALK KOREA

  • Hugh Akston||

    Since Kim and Trump are the ones issuing these apocalyptic threats, the obvious solution is to put them in a room together and let them fight it out. The resulting battle will be epic.

  • BYODB||

    I could support this. The 'Thunderdome' solution!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Except, Trump is like what, two feet taller than Kim?

  • colorblindkid||

    I'm not going to lie, I think his blustery Kim Jong Un type language might actually accomplish something. That's not why he did it, and his defenders are full of shit when they say he did this on purpose. However, lighting a fire under China's ass might do something. I'm honestly still not worried about any sort of pre-emptive strike.

    Even in the absolute worst case scenario. one or two nuclear bombs and a ground war that never leaves the korean peninsula. The world will not end. It will not cascade into a global WWIII, because there's no way in hell anybody fights on NK's side, even China. There will be no Franz Ferdinand moment.

    Everybody needs to calm the fuck down.

  • Brandybuck||

    But... Trump!!!!! Aaaargh!!!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Everybody needs to calm the fuck down.

    Everybody needs to change out of their dirty dipe dipes and insert their war boners into a less violent situation.

  • WakaWaka||

    Trump has never done anything purposely. He doesn't have the intellectual capacity. There is no 3D chess game. His strategy is even too pedestrian for Hungry, Hungry Hippos. But, he does have a natural inclination toward non-interventionism, which is the only thought he's expressed since the 1980's (and trade protectionism). The mere fact that he has rebuffed his generals who want to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan suggest that he, at least, understands that most wars cannot be won.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Wakawaka: Everything he does is random.

    Even keeping the military brass in check is random.

    It could not possibly be part of a strategy to get China to control North Korea and have as many troops ready but not in active combat in case the shit hits the fan.

    Notice nobody is discussing the Syrian ceasefire that is still active. Trump cannot possible have any idea how to end fighting in Syria.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I'm honestly still not worried about any sort of pre-emptive strike.

    This.

    We're still talking about North Korea, the nation-state equivalent of the short bus. Building a missile with enough range to hit the continental US is actually the easy part of developing the ability to perform a first strike on us. Making sure the warhead will survive re-entry and hit a specific target of strategic military value are much harder steps to achieve and there's absolutely no evidence that they've developed those two extremely important capabilities (yet).

    I suppose it's possible, though highly unlikely, that the North Koreans might be stupid enough to build a missile and just launch it in the general direction of the continental US and hope for the best, but that would be literally suicidal on their part. If they did that we would be well within our rights to defend ourselves by reducing Pyongyang, their missile launch sites, and every other known strategically important target into piles of glowing ash. The only reason they would risk it is if Dear Leader is dumb enough to believe his own bullshit propaganda.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And why does he have to hit a military target? Hint: cities are big and they don't move.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Because it turns out just killing a bunch of civilians isn't a good way to win a war. You have to take out strategically important targets, which cities can be that too. But while cities can be large, it turns out that actually hitting one with a missile launched from the other side of the fucking planet still isn't all that easy. I say again, there's absolutely no evidence that North Korea has the ability to actually hit anything with their missiles, nor that their warheads could survive re-entry. There's not need to freak out over their bullshit right now.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You think this is about a military victory? It's about inflicting pain and terror. To think that this is about the norks trying to set up a set piece battle with us is just plain stupid.

    And no, targeting is not a problem as much as you wish it to be. The germans had no trouble hitting london 70 years ago with guidance systems barely out of the steam age and please don't waste my time with the whole "but it's an ICBM!!!!" nonsense. If you're the US trying to take out a russian silo then you need a 50m CEP. If you're north korea trying to take out a city then you need a CEP measured in km.

    The only issues are throw weight, miniturization, and reentry. 6 months ago everyone was convinced that the norks were years away from any ICBM. Sorry if the confident track record of the nothing to see here crowd does not impress me.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Yeah, how long do we wait to slap this little nutcase down? Do we wait until he actually nukes something? Trump is almost certainly fucked by the world media on this one. If he attacks first, he's courting WW3. If he waits to be attacked, he's weak. Since the worldwide marxist media will condemn him no matter what.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Who gives a shit about ICBMs, that is not the Norks endgame. People so often forget that the most powerful weapon in the world is nuclear submarines. Not to hard to hit Washington DC or New York when you are parked right outside.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    People so often forget that the most powerful weapon in the world is nuclear submarines. Not to hard to hit Washington DC or New York when you are parked right outside.

    LO-fucking-L. Their submarines are even less of a threat than their missiles. They're more dangerous to their crews than anyone else.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Right, still at a joke level, but upgrading their subs walks hand-in-hand with their nuclear program. That's why they push forward with the subs even though it's functionally unsafe.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    LOL You didn't even bother reading the article.

    But that doesn't matter, because normal standards of atomic safety and effectiveness don't apply to North Korea's totalitarian regime. Pyongyang has nuclear weapons plus at least one submarine that, however unreliably, can launch them.

    The author gets it. Too bad you didn't.

  • JuanQPublic||

    "Even in the absolute worst case scenario. one or two nuclear bombs and a ground war that never leaves the korean peninsula."

    Yes, just a few million dead, excluding health effects. No biggie.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    Look at the principled opposition to an unnecessary war wilt in the face of right-wing sabre-rattling. Same arguments made for why we needed to depose Saddam Hussein... Kim's no fool, he knows any use of nuclear weapons against the US would end his regime. Those guys have been in power for ~70 years. What makes you think they're so impossibly stupid as to do something that will guarantee an end to their regime and probably to their life?

  • timbo||

    You are correct sir. Tyrants want little more than to look tough and remain in power with whores and cool stuff. N. Korea does this stuff every once in a while. Trump is stupid to say this stuff and hopefully not so ego-maniacal to act. He is proving himself to be an ass in my opinion.

  • Eric||

    Trumps an ass, and is alarming the world with his tin-pot dictator rhetoric... But an unintended consequence could be to alarm China enough that they may do something to prevent a war?

  • timbo||

    Possible that this is a strategy but the more he opens his mouth, the lesser probability that he is this intelligent or savvy of a strategist.

    The more trump talks, the more he sounds like the boy who cried wolf. I think trump is nothing more than a newer, louder puppet for the military industrial complex, the FED, and the deep state for the things that really matter = entitlements, spending, and debt creation. He is on board with keeping our biggest problems, albatrosses, and scams going.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Trump's rhetoric is exactly the same as the previous three presidents. But somehow its different because Trump.......something....something.

  • timbo||

    N. Korea is more broke than we are. A smart politician would say: "we have our military and missile pointed at you as well. If you let one of these rockets lose over said dividing line, your palaces will be bombed first." If they dared make a move anyway, it would be bringing a knife to a gun fight. Kim knows that. Americans are brain dead sheep and deserve what they get.

    Russia is more broke than we are but more of a threat. We should let them bankrupt themselves by military spending and let the regime collapse.

    instead, the US appears to be hungry for total collapse by further bankrupting ourselves with military boondoggles over complicit boogeyman scare tactics by all sides in washington. Supporting the bomb makers gets good votes.
    All of this shit is total BS and could be avoided by someone who is not bought and paid for by the military industrial complex. That someone will likely never exist.

  • BYODB||

    So what you're saying is that we should use the threat of our many, many bombs but at the same time we shouldn't have a lot of bombs and we should do our best to make sure that no bombs are produced. While threatening to use those non-existent bombs?

    Seems legit. Not that I'm not arguing that we should bomb anyone, but your comment here boggles the mind. I'm not so sure 'bluffing all the time' is really that good of a foreign policy vehicle when dealing with a country like North Korea. Or anyone else, for that matter. Eventually someone calls the bluff. Then what?

  • timbo||

    I'm saying we have plenty of bombs. We have the largest military in the world ten times over. We have the largest military budget in the world by order of ten over the next largest spender.
    I'm saying that when Kim opens his mouth and launches a few bombs on his own land, we do not have to posture for war. We can simply hold true to what we have been saying since 1954. kim knows that and will do nothing. Communist dictators who are completely broke do not risk their life by assuring themselves of immediate death or torture by their own people.
    If one of his missiles crosses the line, we shoot down the missile. We have better technology than he does and can isolate a threat immediately.

    What I am saying is the N Korea is not a military threat at all. This is fear mongering by our government. kind of like opioid epidemics, and climate change crises, and all of the other bullshit that has never materialized yet works like a charm every time the command is given to the press to foment rage and fear.
    it appears to be working.
    By the way, we do not have the financial capacity to fight our current wars. Is that a concern to you and anyone anymore?

  • BYODB||


    Communist dictators who are completely broke do not risk their life by assuring themselves of immediate death or torture by their own people.

    It would appear that World War 2 would like to have some words with your pet theory there.

    Spending is a problem, absolutely.

    If one of his missiles crosses the line, we shoot down the missile.

    Which anti-ICBM system would shoot it down? Honestly curious. I've read about lots of systems, but as far as their effectiveness most of them have been graded ineffective.

  • timbo||

    I have seen story after story about our vast military superiority and ability to intercept enemy fire. Now that we have a "crisis" on our hands, I don't see those stories anymore.

    Regarding your other point; Stalin had a military machine that was capable at the time of WWII. So did Hitler. And yes they eventually went bankrupt but they entered the war with strength.

    N Korea has nothing but hyperbole and some video. Please google the article and photos of Kim's submarine launch. Absolutely hilarious. The point is "completely broke"
    And so are we.

  • BYODB||

    Ah, I see now. You simply do not believe that North Korea has any nuclear weapons at all. That seems like your underlying point here. Perhaps it's true.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    This is just stupid. Military spending is 3.6% of gdp. The MILUHTARY INDSUTRIALZ COMPLEXEZ are bankrupting us and aren't going to. Zero out the defense budget and entitlements will eat up those savings in a decade.

    PPP adjusted our defense spending is maybe 3x what china spends and they have a draft.

    We have the financial capability to fight our wars. We do not have the financial capability to pay half the population to not work.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    1st are=aren't.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    So what you're saying is that we should use the threat of our many, many bombs but at the same time we shouldn't have a lot of bombs and we should do our best to make sure that no bombs are produced. While threatening to use those non-existent bombs?

    The funny thing is this is actually a pretty good description of North Korea's policy. The highest estimate of the number of warheads they have is 60. That's not nearly enough to wipe us out like they keep threatening to do. Not to mention the fact that they haven't proven any kind of capability to prevent the warhead from breaking up on re-entry or to target their missiles accurately.

    The only question is: is Kim so stupid as to believe his own bullshit? I guess we'll find out when/ if he actually tries to launch a missile at Guam. Until then, I'm calling BS.

  • BYODB||


    The only question is: is Kim so stupid as to believe his own bullshit? I guess we'll find out when/ if he actually tries to launch a missile at Guam. Until then, I'm calling BS.


    This I can actually agree with, and it's what gives me pause since I'm not really sure that Fat Boy is actually sane on any level. I would actually be surprised if the Norks could hit Guam with even a conventional missile. It's tiny, so perhaps their theory is with nukes you only have been close?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I'm not really sure that Fat Boy is actually sane on any level.

    He may not be, but even though their government is arranged as a dictatorship, the truth is that they have a parliament like legislative body, a military leadership structure of some kind, and a permanent bureaucracy like every other country on the planet. Even if Kim ordered a first strike on Guam, I would hope that some of the generals would look at each other and say "Uhm, no, I don't think so" and then stage a coup to remove the psychopath*. It would certainly be in their own self interest to get rid of the dangerous little cunt who's about to get them all killed when we retaliate.

    * And of course then we get to watch North Korea descend into civil war, which wouldn't necessarily be a good thing either, but for its own host of reasons, not the least of which is "who ends up in control of the nuclear arsenal: pro-Kim hardliners or the sane generals who have decided enough is enough" but that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

  • BYODB||


    Even if Kim ordered a first strike on Guam, I would hope that some of the generals would look at each other and say "Uhm, no, I don't think so" and then stage a coup to remove the psychopath*.

    Possibly, but those same Generals didn't seem to be too concerned when they started killing off their own population. Personally I don't trust those military guys to be any more sane than Un. I mean, I sincerely do hope you're right and from a rational standpoint that would be a logical thing to expect but I simply don't trust them to be sane or rational. Dictatorships and Authoritarians instill a true belief in the populace that the boggart is real and eventually, if they don't 'do something' about the boggart they've created the populace will start to demand that 'something tangible' be done.

    Or, in other words, when you rule through fear of the other but do nothing about that other that you've created the populace will start to think you aren't doing enough real action to destroy your created enemy. Now, they've been 'ok' for now 70 something years but those kids who were entirely raised on the propaganda could very well be true believers in the great lie. That's a concern of mine, given their insular culture. Hopefully I'm wrong or just misinformed though.

  • BYODB||

    We've been told for years that North Korea was decades away from a viable nuclear weapon and/or a viable delivery method for said nukes. Now that this was shown as either a lie or a rosey assessment at best, it's left to Trump to figure out if North Korea was joking when they said they were going to annihilate the United States.


    Now, while I think that obviously we would 'win' any such engagement there is also the chance that we might see Guam and/or a continental United States target such as New York evaporate. Personally I find that to be an unlikely result, but no one can deny that it is now within the realm of possible instead of some theoretical thing that might happen in a few decades. Instead, it could happen today or tomorrow or any time Kim finds himself in a bad mood.


    What I find the most interesting is that every news story I read wants to talk about how a first strike by the United States is the worst thing ever and we should definitely not do it but no one seems interested in talking about why a first strike from North Korea would be a 'bad' thing. Interesting. This seems to imply that people find it more likely that Donald Trump would launch a nuke than Fat Boy Un. I think that's probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, but hey stranger things have happened I suppose.


    Regardless, Trump has apparently managed to get China involved for real for the first time ever so I guess he did something right.

  • timbo||

    N Korea is a joke as always. This is distraction, wag the dog, whatever you want to call it.
    This would be like Cuba trying to fight the US military. They can do nothing to us.

    They do not even have the military assistance of the totally bankrupt Russian government or China anymore.

    Meanwhile, US spending at outlandish levels continues unchecked. This is how it works.

  • BYODB||

    Yes, because if there's one thing JFK agreed with it was that Cuba should be allowed to have nuclear weapons and their attempt to get nuclear weapons from Russia was totally allowed and no one thought twice about it.

  • timbo||

    I'm talking about Cuba today without immediate financial and military backing from a strong USSR. Russia is probably as broke as N. Korea and Cuba right now. Economics plays a large part in war making. Do you really think N Korea could wage war against the united states from more than about 8 minutes?

  • BYODB||


    Do you really think N Korea could wage war against the united states from more than about 8 minutes?

    No, but you seem to want the benefits of extremely high military spending without the cost which makes me think you're not really serious about either issue.

  • timbo||

    I don't think you are reading what I am saying.

  • BYODB||


    N. Korea is more broke than we are. A smart politician would say: "we have our military and missile pointed at you as well. If you let one of these rockets lose over said dividing line, your palaces will be bombed first." If they dared make a move anyway, it would be bringing a knife to a gun fight. Kim knows that.

    Then:

    I'm saying we have plenty of bombs. We have the largest military in the world ten times over. We have the largest military budget in the world by order of ten over the next largest spender.

    Then:

    ...the US appears to be hungry for total collapse by further bankrupting ourselves with military boondoggles over complicit boogeyman scare tactics by all sides in washington.

    My problem is perhaps I do read what you say, but what you say appears to be two completely different things.

    You admit that our military is a deterrent to North Korea, but then turn around and say we don't need a deterrent because they aren't a real threat. Why aren't they a real threat? Because of our military.

    Your reasoning gives me a headache. Not your underlying points. Maybe I'm just skimming your arguments though. I'll go with that, since I don't actually think you're an idiot.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    "Evaporating New York" is still some theoretical thing that might happen in the future.

  • BYODB||

    Absolutely. Don't mistake my comment to mean that I somehow support going to war with the Norks. I do not. Especially nuclear war.

    I just find it strange that people are pretending that absolutely nothing has changed, when the calculus has in fact changed entirely.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    I wasn't implying that you were advocating war, I'm saying the calculus has not changed in the way you've described.

  • BYODB||

    How do you think it's changed, then?

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    From what I understand, I don't think it's changed much at all. If this one report is confirmed, NK has overcome another hurdle, but still a ways from posing a legit threat to the US.

  • BYODB||

    So being unsure if they have nuclear weapons that could hit us at all and then finding out they do have them and could have as many as 60 is not a change?

    I mean, there are credible arguments that they have both the delivery system and a warhead but we're 'not sure' if those will make it anywhere, but that isn't the same thing as being sure they won't reach their target.

    I'd like to know how we can be sure that their missiles won't reach their targets. It would seem that the suggestion most people are making is that the only way we can be sure is to let them shoot missiles around the planet and see what happens.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I have yet to hear where the line to fight North Korea is with some of these people.

    For some I guess its wait for nuclear missiles to fall.

    I do not support waiting to be attacked if we know attack is imminent, even if Taxifornia is the target. Those fucking lefties will just move somewhere else and fuck those states up. They won't volunteer to fight.

  • BYODB||


    I have yet to hear where the line to fight North Korea is with some of these people.

    For some I guess its wait for nuclear missiles to fall.

    Frankly, for some of the people around here this would appear to be the metric. Note that we absolutely do not need to use nuclear weapons to take out North Korea, or that the reason why we haven't done so is because of China not because of the Norks themselves.

    Does the NAP mean that we have to wait until Los Angles or New York are glass until we react? Honest question.

  • ||

    Does the NAP mean that we have to wait until Los Angles or New York are glass until we react? Honest question.

    Preemptive strikes don't tend to harmonize well with the NAP unless there's a really clear and imminent threat. Some crazy broke commie dictator babbling about capabilities he doesn't really have doesn't clear the bar, IMHO. Launching an attack of that magnitude without provocation would be unprecedented in the history of humanity. It's not solid reasoning to assume it's likely.

    Kim is a bit of a loose cannon, but the Kim's have been making empty threats for decades without showing any capability or inclination to follow through on them. The degree to which the US Fed Gov has been abusing the notion of preemptive strikes against nations that aren't really threats to us should keep our skepticism meters tuned to "highly sensitive."

  • ||

    Not even Kim is claiming to be able to hit New York. At best he may have something that could just barely hit the west coast in theory. That's if they can develop a targeting system (which is an order of magnitude more difficult than making the bomb and the rocket) and find a way for the missile to not evaporate on re-entry.

    They are, in fact, probably still decades away from any such capability. Which is why he's threatening Guam. And he probably can't even hit Guam. And doing so would lead to the US annihilating the N. Korean government in return for having deprived the US of . . . Guam. Not to trivialize the lives of the people in Guam, but losing Guam won't be the end of the Empire.

    The Kims have always been all about defensive posturing. Like the scrawny nerd kid who acts as crazy as possible to keep the bullies away. N. Korea may be an ever-so-slight threat to S. Korea, but that's really about it.

  • BYODB||

    Patitudes that North Korea isn't in a position to meaningfully attack the mainland U.S. yet are understandably losing their appeal to me the more progress they make towards that stated goal.

    This is a milestone achievement towards that goal. I'm hoping that China engaging them might help to deflect them more significantly than other attempts in the past, but should that fail it seems like something will eventually need to be done about them to halt that progress. They aren't even pretending that developing these weapons is for any other purpose beyond attacking us. Even if that's insane, that's the claim. We can waffle all we want on if 'he really means it' or not, but at a certain point the threat becomes credible.

    It might not be there today, but that day is coming. Sooner now than it was yesterday, to be sure.

  • ||

    They aren't even pretending that developing these weapons is for any other purpose beyond attacking us.

    I would rephrase that as "any other purpose beyond deterring an American attack on them."

    What possible goal could N. Korea have in attacking the US? The only logical assumption is that they want to discourage the US from taking any action to defend S. Korea should conflict escalate.

    What has changed is that China no longer seems to be as committed to backing the Kim regime, and that changes everything, in just the same way that the collapse of the USSR changed everything for Cuba.

  • BYODB||


    I would rephrase that as "any other purpose beyond deterring an American attack on them."

    Except we haven't shown any real particular interest in going to war with them sans aggression on their part against their neighbors, and they haven't said 'we want to insulate ourselves from attack' they say 'we want to attack America' so it seems everyone wants to put their 'real' words into their mouths for them. There are fair reasons to do so, I suppose, but let us not pretend that is what they are saying.

    So ultimately, perhaps they intend to use that program as a shield to invade South Korea. As a matter of fact, I find that the most likely outcome of them all.

    While we might disagree on some of the particulars, ultimately it seems we both agree on the correct means to institute change; that being that China needs to get involved since they are North Korea's umbrella and they are also directly to blame for North Korea having the weapons they have now. They absolutely do not want us to clean up their backyard for them, that much is clear.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Actually he can range everwhere from Chicago to L.A.. And the same geniuses that think it will take him decades to make a funcrioning reentry vehicle are the ones who claimed he was years away from any ICBM. The notion that he doesn't have the precision to hit a city goes beyond wishful thinking into just plain stupidity.

  • BYODB||

    The same experts reassuring us that it'll take them decades for that technology are, literally, the exact same guys who promised us we wouldn't be in this exact situation right now. So, frankly, they can go suck an egg. They clearly have no idea of the status of Nork nuclear technology.

    The people laughing off the North Korean technology are people who apparently think the United States has the capacity to shoot down just any ol' ICMB that happens to be launched anywhere in the world. I can find absolutely no evidence of that proof anywhere, but that doesn't surprise me since that type of interception technology has been generally frowned on for years because of it's potential to upset the Russian/American power balance RE: 'Starwars' System.

    Strategic Defense Initiative

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    It's all Al Gore talks about.

  • timbo||

    He's pretty reputable so there's that.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    We lived with paranoid dictators equipped with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union, why can't we live with a paranoid dictator equipped with non-deplorable nuclear weapons in NK?

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    There you leftists go railing against the deplorables again. Don't you know this is why you lost?

  • Eric||

    ^sarc?

    If not....sad.

  • BYODB||

    Of course by this logic you are a huge fan of Kim Jong Un, correct?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    All those useful idiots for socialism gotta support somebody and they have over a hundred years invested in Marxism to quit now.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    it's left to Trump to figure out if North Korea was joking when they said they were going to annihilate the United States.

    That's easy: they might not be joking, but they're full of shit. And I doubt they're stupid enough to believe their own bullshit. It's all just propaganda. Probably to keep their people focused on an external enemy instead of wondering why their government is intent on letting them starve to death.

    Instead, it could happen today or tomorrow or any time Kim finds himself in a bad mood.

    Uh, no, not really. Guam may be in some danger, but (for the third time in this thread) the Norks still haven't figured out how to keep the warhead from disintegrating on re-entry or target an ICBM. At this point if they tried to lob a missile at the continental US, it would burn up in the upper atmosphere before even coming close. The last test missile they launched burned up, so until they've demonstrated the ability to keep the warhead intact I'm not going to worry.

  • BYODB||


    Guam may be in some danger, but (for the third time in this thread) the Norks still haven't figured out how to keep the warhead from disintegrating on re-entry or target an ICBM.

    Look, you can't have it both ways. If Guam is 'in some danger' than we are by definition in some danger in the United States. You say their nuke will fall apart on reentry? Ok. That could very well be true but if it's true then how is Guam 'in some danger'?

    Honestly wondering how you can make both arguments simultaneously. Is it based on the variety of medium-to-long range missiles North Korea is (and has) developed?

    Here's one source that speculates on that variety.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Look, you can't have it both ways. If Guam is 'in some danger' than we are by definition in some danger in the United States. You say their nuke will fall apart on reentry? Ok. That could very well be true but if it's true then how is Guam 'in some danger'?

    Because Guam is a lot closer to N Korea so the missile wouldn't have to fly as high and therefore would re-enter at slower speeds and not break up. That's one of the reasons why medium range missiles are easier to develop. This isn't rocket science... well, maybe it is. But I would have thought that would be obvious. I guess not though.

    Honestly wondering how you can make both arguments simultaneously. Is it based on the variety of medium-to-long range missiles North Korea is (and has) developed?

    Basically, yes. Although from the article you just linked to, it sounds like even hitting Guam might be a problem for them:

    It's also unclear whether North Korea has mastered the technology needed to protect the missiles from extreme heat and pressure upon atmospheric re-entry so they can hit the intended target.

    Bottom line: I'm still not that worried about them being a real threat to the continental US right now.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Height isn't the issue. Delta v is. And your targeting claim is ludicrous. They are not and do not have to have a CEP capable of taking out a hardened installation. FFS all the want is the capability to hit a city. That is their entire strategy on the penninsula so whu do you think they suddenly want to resrrict themselves to CONUS hardened installations?

  • BYODB||

    I specifically cited a source talking about the very thing you pretend I don't understand.

    Can I do the math? Nope. Never trained in hard physics mathematics. I wager you weren't either. It's clear that any citation that's given will be brushed off though without meaningful rebuttal, so there probably isn't any sense in talking with you about it.

    You hear 'it's unclear if it will work' and take that to mean 'it will not work'. American Exceptionalism at it's dumbest.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And for the second time in this thread targeting is not a problem when your target is many square miles in size. The last test fell into the ocean. Yoi don't know the state of that vehicle when it did so. If we have recovered it then some highly classified individuals do. That isn't you.

  • Rebel Scum||

    I don't have time to find the video, but I'm pretty sure I have heard Hilldawg state something to the effect that nuclear first strike should always be on the table. I don't recall hair-pulling over nuclear war for that.

  • Eric||

    Was she Commander in Chief of our armed forces when she said that?

  • Rebel Scum||

    Irrelevant if it is a stated position of hers. And she did recently run to become commander in chief. And she has a documented history of never seeing a war that she didn't like. So...

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Of course it's relevant to how people react.

  • Eric||

    "Of course it's relevant to how people react."

    Exactly. Trump's judgment is still an unknown quantity with most people. The increasing possibility of a war on China's borders with a nuclear armed state should concern everyone.

  • BYODB||

    It concerned China enough that they've finally decided that maybe they should side with us instead of with the Nork's. That's a pretty big accomplishment all on it's own, and it would appear to be in line with what Trump wanted to happen since at least as far back as the Primaries.

    So really, I'm not sure all of this means what people think it means. China is on board with sanctions, finally, although I have no faith they will honor that agreement it's a step in the right direction.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    According to some here, its all random too. Trump never ran on resolving North Korea nor worked to get knowledgeable people together to get China to agree to side with the USA rather than North Korea. Trump cannot possibly be smart enough to make this happen.

    Its all random.

  • ||

    Trump ran on a lot of things.

    Some of them, he's done (or attempted).

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Was she Commander in Chief of our armed forces when she said that?


    She was to her supporters.

    She was probably Secretary of State, and that position can start wars quicker than most cabinet members simply by missteps.

  • ||

    Was she Commander in Chief of our armed forces when she said that?

    Trump wasn't Commander in Chief when he told Charlie Rose that he would never consider using nuclear weapons except as an absolute last resort in a clear existential threat when every other conceivable thing had been tried and failed, which of course made the headlines as "TRUMP CAN'T WAIT TO USE NUCLEAR WEAPONS!1!

    Which, presumably, is why you're concerned about "Trump's judgment."

  • Tony||

    "Whatever this is, it's Democrats' fault."

  • Rebel Scum||

    You clearly missed the point I was making (that lefties/democrats are hypocrites on this). I hope that some day you will remove your partisan blinders.

  • timbo||

    He thinks partisan blinders are what old people wear when they get their pupils dilated.

    You can give up on this troglodyte.

  • BYODB||

    Who cares, she isn't in a position of power and hopefully never will be again. She lost.

    And for the record she suggested we should shoot down Russian aircraft over Syria and no one seemed to think that was a bad idea, so lets be glad she lost.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That statement of hers frightened me like nothing else politicians have said in years.

    I don't remember a single mainstream media person blasting her position as risking actually starting WWIII.

    There are various forms of casus belli and shooting down a nation's planes is one reason.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    God, I'm so dumb. Why do I keep tripping up on the fact that libertarianism is about Black people getting Welfare benefits and not about rich countries with huge militaries killing peasants in the 3rd world. My bad. Sorry.

  • BYODB||

    Ironic, given your name. How many peasants did those guys kill, again?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So many of their own people, they never kept count.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    No, libertarianism is about throwing Communists from helicopters

  • ||

    Why do I keep tripping up on the fact that libertarianism is about Black people getting Welfare benefits and not about rich countries with huge militaries killing peasants in the 3rd world

    You've said many, many, really, really stupid things here. But this ranks really near the top.

  • Number 2||

    Am I recalling correctly, or did Trump steal his line from Harry Truman's famous line about what would happen to Japan if it did not immediately accept unconditional surrender?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam," Truman said. "Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware. "

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Just because they're more articulate than the guy with the third grade vocabulary doesn't mean all these warmongering psychos are still "cooler heads" in this scenario

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I think the point is that a lot of people think that "foreign policy experts" like John McCain are "cooler heads" than Trump, but those people have been calling for "regime change" in North Korea for quite some time, so it's a little rich that some of those shit weasels are now suddenly taking exception to Trump's rhetoric towards North Korea yesterday.

    And for what it's worth, the fact that so many of our so called "foreign policy experts" have been banging the drum for North Korean regime change for years might explain why they're so intent on developing nukes and ICBMs to deliver them. I know if I was tin-plated dictator with a God complex ruling over a third world hellscape with an iron fist, my primary motivation would be preserving my regime. And if the self appointed world policeman on the other side of the planet had people saying for years that my regime has to go, it would certainly be in my best interest to develop a nuclear deterrent to make them think twice.

  • ||

    ^ This.

    It's as if he's learned the lessons taught by Libya, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan.

  • BYODB||

    Well I mean the Korean War predated all of that shit so I'm not sure why we would use those as specific examples when we could literally use their own country as the test case. Not that you're necessarily wrong that they're all similar in regards to regime change, but perhaps Korea didn't make it onto the list because that wasn't what was actually going on in Korea back in the 50's.

    As a matter of fact, we didn't start that one at all nor was it an issue of regime change on our part. If anything, it was a regime change on the part of the USSR 'liberating' the North from Japan. Putting this whole debacle on the shoulders of the United States isn't really fair in this case, in my opinion, although I suppose we could have just said 'fuck it' and given the whole shebang to Russia/China and never worried about it again. Then the whole area could look just like North Korea, not that it's any of our business I suppose but it is what it is.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Looking at great circle routes on my mercator map, it appears that the likeliest landing place for an NK nuke to land is San Francisco.

    Maybe Trump *is* playing 3d chess with his inflammatory rhetoric...

  • loveconstitution1789||

    One way to get rid of a sanctuary city and Pelosi in one shot.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Nobody will look back and call the situation well handled if, in the end, the world sat back with their thumbs up their bums and waited until NK launches a nuke before they took action. Probably a meaningless observation though; doesn't mean American intervention is the way to go -- it isn't.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    There is a delicate but true balance between self-defense and the NAP. A clear divide, albeit an arbitrarily determined one.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USARET||

    Why not just be honest and call these "neocons" who they really are -- Jews. Who hate us./ S//

  • ||

    I'm a felllow Vietnam vet, but McCain is a buffoon, a knee-jerk war hawk and a frustrated wanna-be president. He learned all the wrong lessons from his five years as a celebrated POW from a distinguished military family. North Korea wil become a formidable nuclear power. But so has Israel been for many decades. Donald Trump was just being, well, Donald Trump, displaying his usual belligerent bravado. But he evaded the draft and a paid vacation to sunny Southeast Asia with four college deferments, one was for a bone spur, and in an interview he couldn't remember on which foot the bone spur was located. He's a tin soldier born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and Kim Jong-un is merely a mirror reflection of the North Korean version of Donald Trump. I'm been a fatalist about the human condition after a tour of duty in Vietnam. I realized back then how insignificant I really was in the scheme of things. But if this exchange between two zany and unpredictable egomaniacs would actually trigger a nuclear war, I would thank my higher power for allowing me to live a good life having made it to the autumn of my years in the remaining few precious minutes.

  • mchughjj||

    I'm not sure what to make of this article. Matt Welch doesn't seem to be advocating for anything. I am not a military hawk on every world problem. I was against the second Iraq war, for instance. Not for the usual reasons of 'there are no weapons...' but rather it shouldn't have mattered to us if there were. Saddam Hussein's military was outed as a joke in the first Gulf War, so what use did terrorist CEO Osama bin Laden have for a state sponsor as militarily incompetent as Iraq.

    North Korea is something else. You can't negotiate with crazy people, and they are hellbent on having the capability to attack the US directly. If I were President (don't want the job), I'd inform China that there will be a massive but time-limited conventional airstrike on North Korea. China doesn't want WWIII any more than we do. The US makes a commitment to no ground occupation. The trickiest part is that South Korea needs to sign on to the idea. Do they evacuate Seoul? That would be a logistical nightmare, but there's no way to hit every target so quickly that nothing successfully gets fired back.

  • Longtobefree||

    At this point, I think China is mostly concerned with NOT being the one who has to pay for rebuilding NK.
    Worst thing in the world for the US would be defeating NK in a military conflict.
    The food stamps alone would break the bank, even with unanimous votes to raise the debt ceiling.
    (because you and I both know that we would NOT just bomb them out of military capability, then go home)

  • ||

    Hopefully there is a drone circling NK with Kim's name on it.

  • sweettea71||

    Is it possible Trump's rhetoric is to get NK all pissed so it forces China to act? China will...they have the most to lose. Nothing like a Chinese assignation of KJU to end the problem for everyone.

  • mchughjj||

    I disagree entirely. Kim Jong Un and his father and grandfather, and any successor are replaceable parts. The regime is an engine that exists for the sole purpose of sustaining itself. The people have nothing, including information. China's not going to do anything to fix North Korea. The US has to, in terms of taking out military assets. China matters only in terms of what they might do in response to US actions. THAT needs to be negotiated.

  • Longtobefree||

    Matt, please cite the place where Trump mentioned nukes.
    It may have passed by your observation, but the USA can reign fire and fury with conventional arms. Way back when we were still numbering our wars, more people were killed outright and/or died from after effects of the conventional bombing of Tokyo (or Dresden for that matter) than from the nuke dropped on Hiroshima.

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