California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, whose hometown of San Diego is one of four cities North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un seeks to destroy, has expressed support for a preemptive strike against the Hermit Kingdom, echoing a sentiment also reportedly felt by President Donald Trump.
“You could assume, right now, that we have a nuclear missile aimed at the United States, and here in San Diego … we could be under direct fire from the North Koreans,” Hunter said in an interview Thursday with news station KUSI. “The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or, two, do you pre-emptively strike them?”
“I would pre-emptively strike them,” he said. “You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want, but preemptively striking them and taking them out, I personally think that’s the only thing to get them not to have nuclear missiles aimed at the United States.”
Given that The Associated Press reported in July that “a wide swath of the United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, is now in range of North Korean weapons,” that’s tough to argue. But Hunter’s candid admission immediately triggered backlash from a number of individuals, including Shawn Vandiver, the San Diego director of the Truman National Security Project.
“The fact is, a preemptive strike from us results in tens of thousands of deaths, many of whom may be Duncan Hunter’s constituents, all of whom are American citizens or wearing our uniforms and that is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
During his interview Thursday, however, Hunter reiterated that “the North Koreans can reach mainland U.S.with an ICBM that has a nuclear bomb on it.”
“From our perspective, why would we not hit you first?” he said. “Why would we not do a preemptive strike when you have ICBMs leveled at us and you’re not a logical player in the world’s scene?”
Hunter’s perspective on the North Korean threat reportedly coincides with that of the president. Last month, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told radio host Hugh Hewitt that Trump is “willing” to launch a preemptive strike at Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship, according to the Washington Examiner.
“If negotiations fail, he is willing to abandon strategic patience and use preemption,” Graham told Hewitt. “I think he’s there mentally. He has told me this.”
The key words there were “if negotiations fail.“
It’s not that Trump — or Hunter, necessarily — seek to rush in guns blazing, but rather that they’re prepared mentally for the prospect of a preemptive strike if and when it becomes clear diplomatic measures against Kim just aren’t working anymore.
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