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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robertocarlos's picture

BS. It will take China and Russia 5 minutes to launch after USA invades or bombs NK.

arby63's picture

You are mental. You have zero context. Even less sense. Russia and China will zilch. NK is a problem

historian40's picture

NK is a problem for who?  Not the US, not me.  The US regime is lawless and needs to be stopped.  They have no basis of legitimacy as they are in contempt of the Constitution that establishes the US federal government.  A war launched by them against NK, just as the wars they continue to wage against others, would be an act of terror and mass murder.

Moving and Grooving's picture

I don't agree that all of America should die in agony because you are a retard.

historian40's picture

We'll wait and see if they actually do.  Every time the zionist empire used the US military to destroy a country I'd wonder how many such attacks would finally get the attention of Russia, China, etc, as they will inevitably be on the menu to be eaten by the beast.  So far, we've seen half-hearted responses at best, the behavior of controlled opposition at worst.

historian40's picture

I guess you're right.  Dumbfounded and bewildered by the behavior of a madman could describe Russia and China's reaction to the US.

Laughing.Man's picture

I'm certain that both China and Russia are wide awake.  IMO, Libya was the wake up call which is why both reacted the same way when Syria become the target.

XWeatherman's picture

Apparently both Russia & China voted with U.S. to put additional sanctions against N Korea at UN. 


Don't think it was very bright of either of them to cooperate with U.S. after U.S. just put fresh sanctions on Russia and since N Korea now serves as a buffer between China and U.S. MIC Death-Merchants who operate a War Criminal foreign policy based on a delusional ideaology.


Hapa's picture

"Preventive War" - an oxymoron if I ever heard one

ms8173's picture


hutnela's picture

Its only safe to view this site with some kind of adblocker on your browser. I tried using my phone once and literally had ads popping up every 15 seconds.

dlweld's picture

Absolutely - the site is unuseable on a smart phone - I don't even try anymore. Jumps all over the place with fancy ads blasting in.

hutnela's picture

Well.... so much for hoping problems in our own country are going to get taken care of... we're still the global police I guess. Do as we say or we fight you... no diplomacy, no dealing, just threats, and saber rattling. 

NobodyNowhere's picture

Targetting NK doesn't make much sense.  Is there a bigger plan behind it?

PrivetHedge's picture


The suggestion our zio masters have a plan we'd recognise is laughable, everything they touch turns to crap.

The plan is war, fear, chaos and arms sales.

historian40's picture

Jesus told those children of the devil that their house is left desolate.  At the present time, their house, where their source of power and influence resides, is the US, and ever since they seized control, the US has been gradually declining into desolation.

Throughout history, this same pattern has happened, as they go from nation to nation scheming, and inevitably their host is eaten from within.  So far, the US/UK/ "west" has been their grandest home yet, even to the point that they helped create for these zionists a counterfeit "Jewish State of Israel".  An Antichrist State.  This fall will be horrible for all involved.

They've also managed for the first time in history to create a sect within the "christian" churches that even refer to themselves as "Judeo-Christian", mixing antichrist and Christ.

Moving and Grooving's picture

I think it makes every bit of sense. This is not saber-rattling any more. They are readying themselves to do the unthinkable, joyfully. Kind of like our other implacable enemies, the Muslims.

VWAndy's picture

   feral. Just what we have come to expect from years of government service.

Fake Trump's picture

A war is a war. There is no such thing as a preventive war. Why not have a friendly war. It will sound much better.

hutnela's picture

Yea, why isnt there an octagon for these elite to settle their own matters. I bet it would be the highest rated show ever watched. World leaders could beat the piss out of one an other, winner settles it. I would watch it.

historian40's picture

I'm surprised they didn't stick with "kinetic action".  These fork-tongued creatures that run the US regime are like their father the devil, twisting words to beguile others into destroying themselves.

arby63's picture

The dude gets asked point blank questions. He States the obvious and everyone jumps into Zionist conspiracy theories. 

The comments here are as dumb as the blistful Utopia you must all think exists if we kill all the Jews and hide our heads in the proverbial sands.

historian40's picture

As you speak with a mouth full of sand.

arby63's picture

I comment from experience. In war, peace and diplomacy. You have been here 4 weeks and you're another in a long line of trolls. Idiot. 

historian40's picture

You have the audacity to call someone a troll after a hissy fit post like that?  What's with people and their time frames?  Oh, you just created an account 4 weeks ago, run along tyke.  Guess what, everyone who comments has a starting date, and it has zero bearing on the legitimacy of their posts.

Cutter's picture

33,652.  The number of Americans who died in the last Korean War.  And McMaster states that mainly just the South Koreans will be hurt in a war.  Huh??? A total of almost 5 percent of the entire current active duty personnel of all four branches.

103,824 were wounded.  In other words, combined dead and wounded, in the 1950s we lost 17 percent of our current total active duty military.  And that was with just 326,863 Americans deployed to Korea, to face 266,000 North Korean troops--and later a million Chinese.  

Today, North Korea can field a 5 million man army, active and reserve.  So our troop deployment will essentially be all of our active and reserve forces, or 7 times what we depolyed in the fifties.

So our casualties will likely be 7 times more: 235,564 dead.  Times 3 wounded: 300,000.

Of course, broad general estimates.  But even if off by half, we suffer 100,000 dead.

Ridiculous, that McMaster, well schooled in the military arts, says that mainly the South Koreans will suffer in a war with North Korea. Of course he won't state the real numbers.  The American people will scream not to get involved.

dirty fingernails's picture

That's the playbook, by the numbers. Remember the claims of being welcomed by the Iraqis? A mop up action, finished a few weeks, they said. Mission accomplished. Bring it on. Can somebody pull the emergency stop, I'd like to get off this crazy train.

Cutter's picture

Absolutely.  Its truly depressing.  Its the same crazy playbook over and over.  They tell us it will be a cakewalk, "they will throw flowers at us."  Then it turns out not to be true, and after losing so many good men (and women), the American people demand a withdrawal, and our politicians are lining up saying they never supported the war.

A "crazy train" it is.

Give Me Some Truth's picture

"Re: Crazy Train"

And  the politicians and bureaucrats who talked us into these wars still have great influence today. Same for the "talking heads" and pundits. There are no consequences for those who were dead wrong (literally). Conversely, those who correctly warned of the bad results to come are still dismissed as kooks (think Ron Paul).

We follow those who have been proven to be wrong and whose policies have inflincted great damage on our nation.

We ignore or dismiss and castigate those who were right.

Crazy Train indeed.

Lost in translation's picture

To psychos like McMaster, South Koreans are disposable. He doesn't even consider their welfare as human beings.


UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

For him and his bosses, Americans are also disposable.

dlweld's picture

Up in BC (Canada) things are burning up - record heat and forest fires - have had a couple of cases of preventive back fires being lit (to stop a bigger fire) and then the back fires take off and cause a huge and much worse fire. So be careful with that "preventive" stuff.

dlweld's picture

Yeah, all this sabre rattling and military posing - it's all sort of different now with  nuclear plants in the potential Korean battle zones. Most of the nuclear stations have large amounts of highly radioactive spent fuel stored on site, and if any of the plants were hit, intentionally of not, there'd be huge releases of radiation - all nicely upwind from Japan - and hey, the nuclear aircraft carriers are loaded with lots of hot fuel too.

S. Korea produces 70% of world memory chips, Japan produces lots of chips too - get these 2 countries out of circulation, along with China embargoing their tech exports to us and our nice computer/internet lifestyle would be serioulsy challenged,

I actually could see Krazy Kim using the threat of dispersing massive amounts of radiation as he destroys his atomic plants.

Cutter's picture

Good point.  And China recently threatened military action against North Korea if they conducted a nuclear test that resulted in radioactivity blowing into China.

I don't think the Chinese will take any less aggressive posture, if the radioactivity is caused by us bombing, or North Korea testing.

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

A "hotter" version of Burning Oil Wells should make for some interesting aftermath videos.

OKUSA's picture

I get the gist of what Mic is saying, but there has to be a way out of direct confrontation with this idiot dictator. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe this is the war we should have fought instead of Iraq/Afghanistan. Even so, we have not been attacked yet. Does anyone really believe this midget would launch a nuke at us? It would be lights out for him aanndd potentially everyone else.

PrivetHedge's picture

"there has to be a way out of direct confrontation"

Yes, there is. It's worked for 64 years.

It's guaranteed.

It's even FREE.

You simply leave them alone.

Moving and Grooving's picture

Anyone left standing after the first exchange would see it differently.

bunkers's picture

To put a central bank in NK, for the MIC, for eugenicists, etc. They could overhrow the Kim government and save a few million lives but that won't happen. War is profitable.

bunkers's picture

Killing millions of innocents, because Kim is a jerk, makes no sense.

Moving and Grooving's picture

The fucking problem is that it's the jerk who wants to start a nuclear war, not Trump or McMasters. They would very much like the US to not be uninhabitable for 500 years.




historian40's picture

That's a lie.  They're simply showing resistance in the face of a threat.  There shouldn't be a nation on this earth, including the American people,  that shouldn't feel threatened by the US regime.  Even one serving the empire obediently could be destroyed if they happen to step out of line, or get a proud look.

Even animals will swell up or fan out their feathers and such to try to warn off an attack from a predator.  That is essentially what Korea is doing.  They are in no way, shape, or form truly capable of waging war of aggression against the US.  The US regime/zionist empire is as predator seeking whom it may devour.  steal kill and destroy, sounds like US foreign policy under the direction of the children of the devil.

Give Me Some Truth's picture

The old "they want to nuke us" canard. Yes, they want to commit national suicide by starting a war with a country with 1000 times more military might than their own. Iran wants to do this too. So did Iraq. So does Syria. No one ever explains why so many nations and their leaders have these death wishes.


rejected's picture

I don't know,,, our jerks in DC have killed millions and not too many Americans have complained.

rejected's picture

For you Trumpers and America Firsters, the following link may be of interest.

King of Ruperts Land's picture

McMaster would be better suited as Security and Strategy advisory for Black Lives Mater. He would fit right in there devising plans to kill cops as a preventative measure.

redmudhooch's picture

"It’s impossible oftentimes to predict. It’s always impossible to predict the future course of events."
I must be a psychic, because I can, It will be as sucessful as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, vietnam, etc.
Can't win a war that the people are not behind. Americans are sick of war and warmongers.
These wars have done nothing but drain our wealth, cause America and the world misery.
We've lost our freedom,privacy and liberty. These guys are completely insane, they have to go.