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John Bolton at the White House last month.CreditMandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image

John Bolton will assume office Monday with his first controversy as President Trump’s national security adviser awaiting him. Six weeks ago, he outlined his advocacy of an attack on North Korea in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First.”

“Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea,” he wrote, “we should not wait until the very last minute” to stage what he called a pre-emptive attack.

Mr. Bolton’s legal analysis is flawed and his strategic logic is dangerous. As he did before the 2003 Iraq war, he is obscuring the important distinction between preventive and pre-emptive attacks.…  Seguir leyendo »

A North Korean military training exercise in August. Credit Korean Central News Agency, via Korea News Service, via Associated Press

During his first official trip to Asia last month, President Trump issued a stern warning to North Korea: “Do not underestimate us. And do not try us.” But for his part, Mr. Trump should not underestimate the steep human cost of initiating a war against Pyongyang.

The key problem for the United States is the likely possibility that North Korea has the missiles to deliver nuclear bombs to South Korea and Japan. If one of these weapons were to reach its target, an entire city would be annihilated.

And even if an American first strike knocked out North Korea’s nuclear capacity, millions of South Korean civilians, and American and South Korean soldiers, would be vulnerable to retaliation with conventional or chemical weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korean soldiers carrying packs marked with the nuclear symbol look toward Kim Jong-un during a 2013 military parade in Pyongyang. Credit Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

Sixty-four years ago the Korean War, which raged from 1950 to 1953 and killed more than 36,000 American soldiers, was suspended with a cease-fire agreement. A peace treaty, however, was never signed. The war never came to a formal end.

North Korean leaders have long attached importance to formally ending the war. Over the years they have repeatedly raised the prospect of a peace treaty to resolve the many issues that the 1953 armistice left unaddressed, most notably agreement on the permanent division of the Korean Peninsula.

At various times the North Koreans have proposed negotiating a treaty with the United States, at other times with South Korea.…  Seguir leyendo »