President Barack Obama seems at odds with his most high-profile national security adviser when it comes to North Korea getting a nuclear weapon.
Susan Rice writes that the U.S. can “tolerate” a nuclear North Korea and scolds the Trump administration for its fiery rhetoric on the issue in Thursday’s New York Times:
The national security adviser, H. R. McMaster, said last week that if North Korea “had nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States, it’s intolerable from the president’s perspective.” Surely, we must take every reasonable step to reduce and eliminate this threat. And surely there may be circumstances in which war is necessary, including an imminent or actual attack on our nation or our allies.
But war is not necessary to achieve prevention, despite what some in the Trump administration seem to have concluded. History shows that we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea — the same way we tolerated the far greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War.
It will require being pragmatic.
The only problem is that Obama said the U.S. “never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state” less than year ago in a statement Rice most likely wrote:
To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state. Far from achieving its stated national security and economic development goals, North Korea’s provocative and destabilizing actions have instead served to isolate and impoverish its people through its relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities.
Someone was lying.