President Donald Trump just basically admitted that the US was very close to going to war with North Korea last year, during his Sunday interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
Trump’s statements show how seriously the president considered Pyongyang a threat last year. When Wallace asked Trump about the biggest decision he’s had to make as president, he referred to his discussion on North Korea because “we were very close.”
When he says “we were very close,” it’s fairly clear he’s referencing attacking the country to punish it over improving its nuclear arsenal, and he’s made references to how close the US and North Korea came to blows before.
That was seriously considered: Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster advocated for military options within the White House, including a limited attack to deter Pyongyang from building more nuclear bombs. But instead, the Trump administration chose another way — the current diplomatic push between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — in part because Kim wants to reduce US-imposed economic pressure on his country.
It’s good news that both Washington and Pyongyang are currently talking instead of making imminent war plans. But while it’s comforting to know war is off the table for now, it’s not comforting to know that Trump had to think hard about that option.
And should diplomacy with North Korea not go as planned, it’s possible Trump will be faced with the same choice.
And here’s the bad news: Diplomacy with North Korea isn’t going well.