The media went apoplectic over President Trump declaring that he would rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea for their repeated threats to strike America as they developed a nuclear warhead that could be placed on a missile. Defense Secretary James Mattis all but backed up Trump’s statement by threatening North Korea to stop their belligerent actions or else face “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
Trump’s rhetoric may have been evocative, but politicians calling for some sort of military strike against North Korea is nothing new. Here are six politicians who have called for such strikes.
1. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain slammed Trump over his “fire and fury” remarks since he wasn’t sure if Trump would be willing to back them up, but McCain has called for military strikes against North Korea numerous times. In 1994, McCain said that the United States would have “to militarily disable that nuclear capability” if China and Japan refused to enforce sanctions against North Korea and that North Korea would face “the threat of extinction” if matters became dire with the regime.
In 2003, McCain excoriated the Bush administration for taking military strikes against North Korea off the table, writing in The Weekly Standard that America must show that it’s willing to “do whatever it must to guarantee the security of the American people.”
As recently as April, McCain said it would be “foolish” to take military strikes against North Korea off the table.
2. Bill Clinton. In 1993, then-President Clinton threatened a massive strike against North Korea if they obtained nuclear weapons.
“It would mean the end of their country as they know it,” said Clinton.
Ironically, Clinton basically handed the North Koreans nukes with his asinine nuclear deal.
3. Jeb Bush. During a February Republican presidential debate, the former Florida governor said that “if a preemptive strike is necessary to keep us safe, then we should do it” when it comes to North Korea.
4. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham seemed to back Trump’s comments on Wednesday, telling CBS, “President Trump has basically drawn a red line. Saying that he’ll never allow North Korea to have an ICBM missile that can hit America with a nuclear weapon on top. He’s not going to let that happen.”
Graham acknowledged that a war with North Korea would get ugly, but he argued that he doesn’t “want to live for the next 50 years under that threat” of North Korea being armed with an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a nuke.
5. Vice President Mike Pence. Back in April, Pence issued a warning to North Korea:
“The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Pence told 2,500 sailors wearing blue fatigues and Navy baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard the carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay.
“Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,” Pence said.
6. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). During the vice presidential debate, Kaine said that “a president should take action to defend the United States against imminent threat” should North Korea be poised to launch a nuke toward the United States.