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Expert Voices

The possibility of a warning shot

From our Expert Voices conversation on war with North Korea.

It would be wrong to say there are no military options for dealing with North Korea. But it is fair to say that no military option is without risk to U.S. and allied interests. What we — and Kim Jong Un — need to keep in mind, however, is that his nuclear ICBM program, combined with his refusal to negotiate, are narrowing the risk gap between doing nothing and taking action.

What types of military actions might precipitate compromise, not catastrophe? Perhaps one is a sharp, short "warning shot" fracturing North Korean complacency while discouraging retaliation — the equivalent of the horse's head on the pillow that "makes Kim an offer he can't refuse". Perhaps another would be the demonstration of a game-changing new military technology. (Think DARPA's special "liquid lasers" — essentially a Sci-Fi Ray Gun capability so advanced that it could neutralize Pyongyang's missiles, rockets and artillery.) Negotiations might look better to the Young General at that point.

Bottom line: Such options are a bit far-fetched and neither is risk free. Remember: although the immensely capable U.S. Military is ready to "fight tonight," its mission is to prevent war, not to start one.

Read the other experts:

Mike Allen 2 hours ago
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A White House olive branch: no plan to fire Mueller

Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

After a weekend at war with the Mueller investigation, the White House is extending an olive branch. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the probe, plans to issue this statement:

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Why it matters: The White House strategy had been to cooperate with Mueller. So this is an effort to turn down the temperature after a weekend of increasingly personal provocations aimed at the special counsel.

Jonathan Swan 4 hours ago
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Trump's trade plan that would blow up the WTO

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For months, President Donald Trump has been badgering his economic advisors to give him broad, unilateral authority to raise tariffs — a move that would all but break the World Trade Organization.

His favorite word: “reciprocal.” He’s always complaining to staff about the fact that the U.S. has much lower tariffs on some foreign goods than other countries have on the same American-made goods. The key example is cars: The European Union has a 10 percent tariff on all cars, including those manufactured in America, and China hits all foreign-made cars with 25 percent tariffs. But the U.S. only charges 2.5 percent for foreign cars we import.