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U.S.: We're ready to launch a pre-emptive strike if Bowl Cut Jr. tries any more nuclear tests
The calculation has always - or at least for the past decade or so - been that any sort of strike against North Korea would be too risky because a) if they really do have operable nukes, they could easily reach Seoul or various targets in Japan; and b) Bowl Cut Jr. is either evil enough or crazy enough (or both) to do it.
Ergo, no threat of force is credible or feasible. So went the thinking throughout the Bush and Obama administrations.
Does the Trump team know something they didn't? Or are they simply convinced - perhaps because of something Xi Jinpeng told them - that Junior won't actually risk the massive retaliation? Because either someone is going to have to back down, or there is going to be fire and blood very soon:
The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.
North Korea has warned that a "big event" is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.
The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.
American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.
The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.
The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.
How confident is the Trump Administration that South Korea is secure? Confident enough that it sent Mike Pence there to spend Easter with U.S. forces assigned to the DMZ. That's an awfully inviting target if Bowl Cut Jr. decides he wants to take a shot at him.
There is some real danger in all this for Junior too. If Trump dares him to strike, even unleashing a conventional attack to either prevent a nuclear test or retaliate for one, how much does Junior's bluster matter anymore if he leaves all the neighboring U.S. allies and forces intact? Why should anyone fear striking him in the future if one strike yields no massive/crazy response, and demonstrates once and for all that the guy can really be knocked backward after all?
It's a gambit by Trump with a potentially enormous payoff, and it would forever alter the status quo ante that suggests Junior is too unstable for anyone to stand up to. If it works, the only thing really keeping his regime untouchable by the rest of the world - the fear of what he might do - is ripped away from him, and his time in power will likely be short after that. If Trump is wrong and Junior launches the nukes . . . well that's not so good, now is it?
Say this from Trump: He doesn't simply accept that there are certain problems that can never be solved. I've never much cared for the James A. Baker III/Brent Scowcroft affinity for "stability" in the world when said stability keeps sadistic monsters in power. I like leaders who seek solutions. Unless Trump backs down, I don't see how the status quo survives much longer on the Korean Peninsula. We just have to pray the change doesn't require massive casualties.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!