Trump Nearly Brought the U.S. to War with North Korea - Until Mattis and Kelly Intervened: Report

While President Donald Trump is currently planning to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the coming months in an attempt to negotiate on peaceful terms, a new report from the New Yorker reveals that the United States may have recently come closer to war with the rogue regime than most people realize.

In a profile of former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, the magazine's Patrick Radden Keefe reports that the general's proclivity for favoring process over substance when managing the president risked sleepwalking the country into a potentially disastrous military conflict. He writes:

According to multiple senior officials, in early January the President asked his staff to present him with a range of evacuation plans for the approximately two hundred thousand American civilians who live in South Korea. (On TV, Senator Lindsey Graham was calling for dependents of U.S. soldiers there to be brought home.) Any evacuation would send a profoundly alarming signal to South Korea, and inevitably put the U.S. and North Korea on a war footing. McMaster and his staff dutifully began gathering options for the President.

Any such plans — and perhaps even rumors that the president had requested them — would have undoubtedly spooked the nuclear-armed Kim and risked unleashing a devastating war. 

Keefe reports, though, that it was more grounded minds who won the day. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly intervened and any efforts to plan the imminent withdraw Americans from South Korea were scrapped.

In light of this story, it may be fortuitous that McMaster no longer works at the White House while Kelly and Mattis remain key figures in the administration. But it gives a chilling impression of how decisions are being made at the highest levels and how little power the institutions of the federal government have to constrain the president.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.