drumbeat of war with North Korea?

According to CNN, “US military options for North Korea have been prepared” and “all options are on the table”. Neither of these statements is concerning to me on its face. I assume the U.S. military has considered how to respond to all sorts of “what if” scenarios, and it should. What is concerning – do i have to point this out – is Donald J. Trump. If he wakes up one day and impulsively decides to order an attack, will the U.S. military just automatically carry it out?

Once the first shots are fired, the civilians tend to lose a lot of control to the military. I would hope Trump, Mattis and the other civilians who supposedly are in control of our foreign policy and military actions would go to Congress and then to the UN, get a resolution and build a coalition before taking any such action. If George W. Bush had followed those steps, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars either would not have happened, or would have happened with much broader support from the rest of the world. A calm, rational, confident leader could actually show strength by doing this, but someone like Trump will almost certainly see any attempt at consensus building as a sign of weakness. This is getting very dangerous.

“What we have to do is prepare all options because the President has made clear to us that he will not accept a nuclear power in North Korea and a threat that can target the United States and target the American population,” McMaster said during remarks at a Washington think tank…

“I hardly ever escape a day at the White House without the President asking me about North Korea and how it is that the United States is responding to that threat,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo told MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt this past weekend. “It’s very much at the top of his mind.” Trump last week also indicated he is becoming more concerned…

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned lawmakers on Wednesday that the North Korea’s missile program may be advancing ahead of previous estimates that put Kim Jong Un’s unpredictable regime three to five years away from achieving its ambition of being able to deliver a nuclear weapon to the US…

In a recent exchange with Sen. Lindsay Graham on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary James Mattis took an unusually specific stand on US military policy. Graham asked: “Is it the policy of the Trump administration to deny North Korea the capability of building an ICBM that can hit the American homeland with a nuclear weapon on top? Is that the policy?”

“Yes,” Mattis answered.

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