President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, apparently believes that “standing up for US interests and punishing its adversaries may be more important than avoiding a massive war.” In his own words: “we’re not committed to a peaceful resolution, we’re committed to a resolution,” adding that “we have to be prepared if necessary to compel the denuclearization of North Korea without the cooperation of that regime.”
Essentially, McMaster posits that when the world sees Russia waging hybrid warfare in Ukraine and the Baltics and the US offers a muddled response, refusing for years to provide lethal aide to Ukraine, China, Iran, and North Korea become emboldened. While the US struggles to patrol China’s massive land grab in the South China Sea or combat Iran’s growing influence and use of proxy militias in Syria, North Korea assesses — correctly so far — that it can continue to defy the US without punishment.
North Korea, in particular, has proven adept at “salami-slicing,” or advancing its interests against US demands in such small steps that no one provocation is enough for the US to initiate a war.
Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran have all acted against US interests despite the US’s nuclear arsenal and in what some would call defiance of traditional deterrence.
The US has seen its power in the Pacific, eastern Europe, and the Middle East decline exponentially as China, Russia, and Iran rise, but the strategy of tolerating a constant stream of slights has kept the US out of major conflicts. McMaster may want to change that.
As it is, “McMaster has openly questioned whether deterrence will work on North Korea. While few think North Korea would launch a nuclear attack on the US, as it would be a suicide mission, North Korea has transferred weapons and nuclear technology to US enemies.”
Therefore, it might soon be time to bomb North Korea.