Senator John McCain, Washington’s perennial war-hawk, has let slip the truth, which is that a US attack on North Korea is a terrible idea.
Talking to CNN, he responded to questions about the merits of a possible pre-emptive strike to prevent North Korea developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US by saying the following
I think that we have to consider that option as the very last option. And for a number of reasons, and one of the reasons is because there’s artillery on the [demilitarized zone] that can strike Seoul, a city of 26 million people, and the carnage would be horrendous.
I would add that – accepting this logic – the effect of a North Korean artillery strike on Seoul would be equally “horrendous” if it were carried out in retaliation for a US strike carried out after a North Korean ballistic missile or nuclear weapons test.
Senator McCain in contrast to other war-hawks like Senator Lindsey Graham – who has been saying that a war in the north east Pacific would not be so bad because it would not directly affect the US – or Governor John Kasich -who is calling for an assassination team to ‘take out’ Kim Jong-un and other members of the North Korean leadership – is a former active duty military officer who has actually served in combat during the war in Vietnam. He also comes from a family with a long history of military service. He therefore presumably understands rather better the danger of some of the farfetched scenarios for military action than some of the people who are advocating them.
If someone like Senator McCain thinks that military action against North Korea is a terrible idea and that the US should instead rely on diplomacy, then the risk of the US taking military action against North Korea must be very low.
The fact that Senator McCain also appears to be very close to President Trump’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster – who he continues to praise lavishly at every opportunity – suggests that what he says also reflects the thinking of President Trump’s top national security and defence officials, including presumably General McMaster.
That also suggests that the prospects of US military action against North Korea are actually very low.
That of course makes the Trump’s administration’s various military moves of the last few weeks, such as the movements of the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and of the cruise missile submarine USS Michigan, look even more like the empty bluff they obviously were.