President Donald Trump’s warning that North Korea will face “fire and fury” from the U.S. should it continue its threatening behavior was “probably necessary,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday morning, because the strategy adopted by so many of his predecessors has failed.
Trump is “deadly serious” and “very curious” in his approach to North Korea, Graham (R-S.C.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt Thursday morning. The lawmaker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he has been convinced by his conversations with the president that he will not allow the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Un to obtain a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S.
“If negotiations fail, he is willing to abandon strategic patience and use preemption. I think he’s there mentally. He’s told me this,” Graham said. “I am 100 percent confident that if president Trump had to use military force to deny the North Koreans the capability to strike America with a nuclear-tipped missile, he would do that. And he’s going to listen to sound military advice, but he’s made a decision in his own mind not to let that happen on his watch.”
Trump’s Tuesday comment, that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to threaten the U.S., rattled tensions across the Pacific, stoking fears of a military action and a potential war on the Korean Peninsula. Such a conflict would imperil hundreds of thousands of South Koreans, Japanese and U.S. military members stationed in the two nations.
But Graham said the president’s remarks are in line with the only reasonable approach to dealing with the Kim regime and that many of those criticizing the president have had previous opportunities to deal with North Korea and failed to do so. A North Korea armed with a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. is unacceptable, Graham said, because “I don’t believe our missile defense systems are that good.”
As such, Graham said the U.S. must be prepared to strike North Korea if it obtains such a weapon, a step some believe the Kim regime has already taken, or if it attacks the U.S. or its allies.
“His rhetoric yesterday, I think, is a change that is probably necessary. Everybody who spoke before him failed,” Graham told Hewitt. “Every smart person on TV who talks about what Trump should do, when it was their turn to deal with North Korea, they failed miserably. There’s no place for him to kick the can down the road.”