John Borton, a former undersecretary of state and recess-appointed U.N. ambassador for a year under President George W. Bush, wrote a screed urging an attack on North Korea Wednesday that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone even vaguely familiar with the record of this neoconservative who hates being called that. This normally wouldn’t raise an eyebrow given that record. But some reports say Bolton has been considered as a replacement for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, with whom Donald Trump has issues.
An ultrahawk with a reputation for thinking diplomacy is a weakling’s tool, Bolton has repeatedly shown his preference for a foreign policy dominated by chest-pounding, saber rattling, bombs and cruise missiles.
His op-ed in The Wall Street Journal was also published at the Gatestone Institute, where Bolton is chairman. In it he argues that if what he views as almost-certain-to-fail diplomacy doesn’t work to end North Korea’s nuclear program (or get China to support regime change), a U.S. attack is essential.
As some may recall, he said the same thing in 2015 about Iran, where the “United States could do a thorough job of destruction.” Here’s the crux of his op-ed:
So what are the military options, knowing that the U.S. must plan for the worst?
First, Washington could pre-emptively strike at Pyongyang’s known nuclear facilities, ballistic-missile factories and launch sites, and submarine bases. There are innumerable variations, starting at the low end with sabotage, cyberattacks and general disruption. The high end could involve using air- and sea-based power to eliminate the entire program as American analysts understand it.
Second, the U.S. could wait until a missile is poised for launch toward America, and then destroy it. This would provide more time but at the cost of increased risk. Intelligence is never perfect. A North Korean missile could be in flight to a city near you before the military can respond.
Third, the U.S. could use airstrikes or special forces to decapitate North Korea’s national command authority, sowing chaos, and then sweep in on the ground from South Korea to seize Pyongyang, nuclear assets, key military sites and other territory.
He goes on to say the Pentagon should be pondering the operational aspects, and politicians should be discussing military options for North Korea “and beyond,” the beyond being Iran, and anybody else Washington suspects or knows is developing nukes.
Bolton calls for bombing North Korea and Iran. Because it’s been 14 years since the Iraq war started and he’s bored. https://t.co/BQMGgxps67
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) August 3, 2017
Everyone who is supporting or leaning toward supporting an attack on North Korea should take note of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ words on the subject:
“A conflict in North Korea … would be probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis told CBS News. “The bottom line is it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat if we’re not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”
Bolton would obviously prefer instead to release the dogs of war. Every military option he outlines could result in fatalities that would make the 1950-53 conflict on the Korean Peninsula look modest.
“Does it make a difference if warriors go to battle changing their appearance or not? Does it make a difference if they’re anonymous, in how they treat their victims? We know in some cultures, they go to war, they don’t change their appearance. In other cultures, they paint themselves like “Lord of the Flies.” In some, they wear masks. In many, soldiers are anonymous in uniform. So this anthropologist, John Watson, found 23 cultures that had two bits of data. Do they change their appearance? Do they kill, torture, mutilate? If they don’t change their appearance, only one of eight kills, tortures or mutilates. The key is in the red zone. If they change their appearance, 12 of 13 —that’s 90 percent — kill, torture, mutilate. And that’s the power of anonymity.”
~Philip Zimbardo, Ted Talk (2008)
— Bob Krause (@KrauseForIowa) August 4, 2017
At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Afghanistan slipping back to warlordism:
Afghanistan is slipping back into the hands of warlords because the US refused to extend international control outside Kabul, keeps two brigades there when 10 are needed and have underfunded reconstruction across the country. We expected an Afghan national army to solve our problems when that is years away from being anything close to reality.
Afghanistan is a place were we could easily wake up one morning, find the President assassinated, the Army in revolt and US troops stuck in the Kindu Kush fighting tribesmen from both sides of the border. Things are so desperate that the 25ID, trained to fight in the Pacific and Korea, will send the next brigades to Afghanistan.
Our ob[s]ession with Iraq, trapping whole divisions there, leaves Afghanistan exposed and ripe for an election year failure.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, we got things working again, so we had everybody on! Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter and Armando all joined in the effort to try to make some sense out of the rolling disaster that is the Trump “administration.” We did not succeed. But we had a good time.