In response to worries that it is planning a “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, the Trump administration has been offering an odd reassurance. Any attack on the regime of Kim Jong Un would not be limited, officials and surrogates are saying, but enormous and overwhelming. That, of course, is not reassuring at all: A massive attack on North Korea would be massively stupid.
The White House calls reports that President Trump is considering a small-scale North Korea military option exaggerated. The administration understands that there is no guarantee Kim won’t respond with his full military might — a nightmare scenario. But embedded in every denial is a consistent pledge that Trump will not accept North Korea achieving the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental missile — a clear red line.
That means the military option Trump is actually considering foremost is one that would be huge, complex and devastating. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) said he was toldthe conflict would be brief and would cause “mass casualties the likes of which the planet has never seen.”
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