McMaster: U.S. Preparing For "Preventive War" With North Korea

Tyler Durden's picture

The United States is preparing for all options to counter the growing threat from North Korea, including launching a “preventive war,” national security adviser H.R. McMaster said in an interview that aired Saturday on MSNBC. The comments come after North Korea carried out two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the past month and after the president said he has been clear he will not tolerate North Korea's threats to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

The key excerpts (full transcript):

H.H.: Let me switch if I can to North Korea, which is really pressing. And– and remind our audience, at the Aspen Institute ten days ago, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Joe Dunford, said, “There’s always a military– option. It would be horrific.” Lindsey Graham on Today Show earlier this week said– “We need to destroy the regime and their deterrent.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday, I believe, to North Korea, “You are leaving us no choice but to protect ourselves.” And then the Chairman of the Chief of Staff of the Army said, “Just because every choice is a bad choice doesn’t mean you don’t have to choose.” Are we looking at a preemptive strike? Are you trying to prepare us, you being collectively, the administration and people like Lindsey Graham and Tom Cotton for a first strike North Korea?


H.R.M. Well, we really, what you’re asking is– is are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right? A war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon. And the president’s been very clear about it. He said, “He’s not gonna tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States” if they have nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States; It’s intolerable from the president’s perspective. So of course, we have to provide all options to do that. And that includes a military option.


Now, would we like to resolve it short of what would be a very costly war, in terms of– in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people? The– the ability of– of that North– North Korean regime to hold the South hostage to conventional fire’s capabilities, artillery and so forth, Seoul being so close. We’re cognizant of all of that. And so what we have to do is– is everything we can to– to pressure this regime, to pressure Kim Jong-un and those around him such that they conclude, it is in their interest to denuclearize. And there are really I think three critical things, came out of the president’s very successful summit with– President Xi of China that were different– that were different from past efforts to work with China, which has always been, you know, the– the desire, right, to work with China– on the– on the North Korean problem.

How many casualties will there be:

HH: In 1994, when the first North Korean deal with signed, the people who executed it, Gallucci, Dan Poneman, Joe Wit wrote a book. And they quoted a general saying, “If there is a conflict,” called Going Critical, “there will be a million casualties.” A million casualties. Is that still a good estimate of what happens if– preemptive strike unfolds in North Korea, General?


HRM: You know, one thing about war. It’s impossible oftentimes to predict. It’s always impossible to predict the future course of events. Because war is a continuous interaction of opposites, a continuous interaction between your forces and those of the enemy. It involves not just the capability to use force, but also intentions and things that are just unknowable at the outset. And so I think it’s important to– to look at– range of estimates of what could happen, because it’s clear that at war, it’s unpredictable. And so you always have to ask the question, “What happens next? What are the risks? How do you mitigate those risks?” And– and obviously, you know, war is– is– is the most serious decision any leader has to make. And so what can we do to make sure we exhaust our possibilities and exhaust our other opportunities to accomplish this very clear objective of denuclearization of the peninsula short of war?

Should Americans be concerned:

HH: How concerned should the American people be that we are actually on the brink of a war with North Korea?


HRM: Well, I think it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with this. Right, the, so I think it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime, I mean, who murdered his own brother with nerve agent in an airport. "I mean, think about what he’s done in terms of his own brutal repression of not only members of his regime but his own family," McMaster added.


On Tuesday,  Sen. Lindsey Graham said that the president told him there would be a war with North Korea if the regime continues to try to hit America with an ICBM. Appearing on the Today Show, the South Carolina Republican Senator said that President Trump has indicated to him that the administration is prepared to strike North Korea to prevent an attack against the U.S.  Pushed on by Matt Lauer on whether a viable military option exists in the region, Graham responded: "They're wrong.  There is a military option to destroy North Korea's program and North Korea itself."

The Hwasong-14 ICBM seen during its test in this undated photo released by

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, July 5 2017.

As reported last Friday, North Korea claimed that its latest missiles can now strike anywhere in the United States, delivering nuclear warheads. Experts have said that the country’s missile program has greatly accelerated in recent months putting it far ahead of previous predictions about when it could launch reliable long-range missiles. Speaking to Newsweek in recent days, several experts said that an attack would be the deadliest the U.S. has ever received and potentially kill more than 100,000 people if it struck in large population centers like New York City or Los Angeles.

“I’m not going to confirm [whether the latest ICBM could reach anywhere in the U.S.] but whether it could reach San Francisco or Pittsburgh or Washington, I mean how much does that matter? It’s a grave threat,” McMaster said.

He added: “It’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime."

McMaster cautioned that he was aware of the fact that any strike against North Korea could bring about a “very costly war” that would cause immense “suffering of mainly the South Korean people.”

Last month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo floated another option for dealing with the North Korea threat, saying that he was “hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system.” North Korea responded by threatening swift and brutal consequences for any attempt to topple Kim.

“Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of an attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Still, McMaster did not rule out such an attempt when asked whether it could be a legitimate tool. “I think it depends on the legal justifications for that. And this goes back to just war theory. And what is the nature of the risk? And does that risk justify acting in defense of your people and your vital interests?”

Last week, the local press reported that South Korea's military is preparing a "surgical strike" scenario that could wipe out NOrth Korean command and missile and nuclear facilities following an order by S.Korea's president Moon Jae-In.

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Luc X. Ifer's picture

Told you, winter war. US betting on food scarcity to spark also a popular uprising against the regime.

Latina Lover's picture

McMaster has learned from the best, Hitler

Looney's picture


“Preventive War” to prevent a war?

You can’t make this shit up!  ;-)


Latina Lover's picture
“Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.”

? Dwight D. Eisenhower

BaBaBouy's picture

“Preventive War”

Isn't that an oxymoron ???

BetaGap's picture

Sounds a bit like suicide out of fear of death

BaBaBouy's picture

What was that other reason, Oh yeah, He has WMD's/yellowcake, we must invade NOW...

Manthong's picture


“Preventive War”

Maybe like "loving rape"?.


847328_3527's picture

How about war here on USA soil:


Maxine Waters: Trump is the most deplorable person I’ve ever met

J S Bach's picture

This evil Mother F***er is right out of a James Bond movie.  Villainous.  It's funny how one's visage so often betrays the inner being.

MillionDollarButter's picture

#WarOfPrevention, still, I'd love to see the little shit get his.

Troll Magnet's picture

NK is so fucking backward. They really need to learn how to be a REAL threat to world peace from us.


Oh regional Indian's picture

You poor Americans, no control over your government. Now that is true pretty much all over the world at this time, people are for the most part just button pushing slaves to the state.

BUT..... we don't have a dying, heavy, ugly, over-extended, murderous military all over the world like you do. We don't have poor kids picked for cannon fodder from school to battle-field in one fell swoop.

And most of all, since you were clearly chosen by the chosen for being the ugly tip of the spear with they will wreak havoc upon the world on behalf of their angry, jealous god, you've got some really bad blow-back coming.

It gives me zero happiness saying this. I have family and friends there in the US. I have memories and gifts of amazing times amongst amazing human beings. I have memories of one of th emost diverse and beautiful geographies. I have memories of being "honey-ed" to death in Geogiah by the big black mama behind the counter, I have memories of the mad, drugged vietnam vet on the street of San fran, who reached for my leg, screaming, frothing at the mouth....

So much good, totally done in by so little bad, it's true, one bad apple (pardon the biblical pun), a tiny percentage of your population, with purse and every other string in their hands, on behalf of goodness knows who has ripped the very fabric of the united states to shreds. A den of sin in every conveivable way shape and form and yet beauty everywhere the eye can see....

What you're going to do?

remember your history....was not that long ago y'know...

Manthong's picture


Well, the good news ORI is that you have plenty of Monsanto  (now soon to be ach du Bayer) glyphosate, the leftover Union Carbide ruins, mercury out the gonads, sewer rivers, thousands of suicidal farmers and Modi.

Sorry, we are all up to our butts in stupid, greedy and careless leaders.



Manthong's picture


Preventative War…

More like “Anticipatory Murder”    ??????..the US way.. the only way

How many bases in S Korea since 1951…

If you guess less than 75 … I think you might be wrong.

Eyes Opened's picture

"We have to HAVE the war ... before we can tell u what the war's for..."

Manthong's picture


I have read a lot of crud on this… not sure what to believe…. maybe this is a good place to start…..

neutrino3's picture

A glimpse on your reality should bring some leverage. Otherwise you look like betrayed jealous women throwing vitriol around.

Manthong's picture


I had not thought of identifying as a woman with a duck clan beard, but you seem to make this sound reasonable.

AssN9's picture

"You poor Americans, no control over your government." No longer having the right to create and issue debt free currency more like it. Who controls NK's financial institutions?

lucyvp's picture

sorry my friend,  most of us don't want any of this crap, but we are just cogs in the big machine, trying to scrath out a living.

We had two candidates, the more of the same shit candidate, and the less war candidate, and we voted for less war but like many times before were duped.



historian40's picture

"We had two candidates..."  Not true.  You perceived two candidates only, because that is the delusion most Americans are trapped in.  There are other options, but you have been convinced to pretend they don't exist.

lucyvp's picture

i did vote for  a third party candidate but in a winner take all state my vote was not counted.

Tom Terrific's picture

You are right, but lets not forget how India beats out the Mexicans in terms of "breeding like flies."  Ah yes my visions of India and Ganges where you throw your dead grandma, feces lined parks and streets, and endless call centers.

EuroZone's picture

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do...

Mementoil's picture

I hear that HR McMaster hates Israel and Jews in general.
Shouldn't you be supportive of him, Armada, given that you are a Neo-Nazi and all that?

Whoa Dammit's picture

More like Colonel Kurtz. He' starting to get that same look in his eye.



Give Me Some Truth's picture

Note that the interviewer/network is also doing its part to grease the rails to war. The press, for some bizarre reason, seems to be just as pro-war as these neocons. Also note how the questioner didn't challenge any of the general's assumptions. No skepticism is displayed at all. Why not this question:

"Why, General, would North Korea decide to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States of America? Sir, would that not be the equivalent of committing national suicide? You think nations WANT to commit suicide?


neversink's picture

And the answer: 'yes, some leaders might want to sacrifice their nation. We have seen how the supreme leader controls and starves his people. Their power is more important than their people, or even the survival of their nation.'

BarkingCat's picture

You haven't seen anything real.

You only have seen what you've been fed by those who you know lie to you, but somehow on this one topic you believe them.

historian40's picture

Bullshit.  Korea has been holding on for decades, and have shown the opposite of suicidal behavior.  You haven't seen supreme leader anything. You've heard rumors and saw propaganda about what supposedly happens in NK.

Give Me Some Truth's picture

But in the last 60 years have you seen any nation launch a nuclear attack against the United States of America?

Have you seen any nation launch a conventional attack against America?*

*Terrorists commandeering airliners and flying them into skyscrapers does not count. This was an "attack" but it was not ordered by the government of any nation.

Has any nation attempted to invade or occupy America?

So we are stressing out over a "threat" that is really not a threat - at least as shown by history. 

**I do understand that Great Britain invaded America in 1812, but this was before we had a nuclear deterrent. And North Korea in 2017 is not the military power that England was in 1812.


Manthong's picture


Um… Colonel Klink? I think I know my lovable Nazis.

new game's picture

a million eaters here and a million eaters over there, what's the problem? as the soccer mom scurries to the vet to save her 15 year old golden retriever...just pointing out the hypocracy of values.

humans, huh, just in the way to the emperrors quest...

if i lived in seol, i'd be packen ass out of there.

two crazies at the helm = moar war.

16 moves into a game that shouldn't be happening.

swamp is thriving, gators fuking gators and having a field day.

go chelsa, next gatoress to rise out and deep six the public.

this shit goes til major chaos engulfs the world in plumes of death.

it appears we are very near peak humans.

not because we can't feed ourselves, but simply we can't get along.

all this shit is fabricated by an ultra minority, drived by central banks and profits.



runswithscissors's picture

wouldn't it be better to remove US troops from Korean and let the Koreans sort it out?

Lore's picture

Trump says "General McMaster is a good man, and very pro-Israel." 


divingengineer's picture

The guy's seriously starting to freak me out.

new game's picture

a year late to understanding this little handed mouth of confussion.

hear ye all, we are being fuked by an ultra minority of war mongering banksters, with a central bank fabricating monetary policy to keep this power structure supreme and self fulfilling.

simple shit maynard

carry on, as the nfl is about kickoff the preseason, with the armed forces propaganda support.

caconhma's picture

Trump and his surrounding MUST be removed by any means. Being outrageously stupid and incompetent, these people indeed can start a nuclear WWIII.

If these idiots believe that China will be passively watch a nuclear war on its border, they are very dangerous to the humanity.

As for American generals, they have lost every single past-WW2 wars ( I don't count Grenada).

Mr 9x19's picture

total BS NK is food autonome.... they already have nothing to eat.


if this shit happen in 2017 and not before this is because they had nothing to do with NK until now.


the second USA touch a hair of NK  there is a globale nuke rain. pentagon know it, you cannot make a regime change when you are kept outside of the house.... russia understood it and kicked the ass of some NGO and all  not so long time ago... usa have not a single foot in NK, except denis rodman.

it is a no brainer, usa do not tolerate to be humiliated by smaller and autonom country, that is the reality.


because a small asiat' country stand still, what not a fucking occidental + nigger + sandnigger  was unable to do, you are in rage mode USA :-)


don't be mad, bro

Twodogs's picture

No way China goes MAD unilateral. They're not idiots.

Whoa Dammit's picture

Send Bill Clinton over there to shut down the nuke plants that he funded with our taxpayer money. Don't let him back into our country until he gets it done. 

king leon's picture

NK paid Bill Clinton fair and square for those Nuke Plants with tons of grade A Heroin.