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Graham: Only a ‘Matter of Time’ Before North Korea Crosses a Red Line

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an undated photo.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) said “it’s just a matter of time” before North Korea crosses a red line — like testing another warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile — that the Trump administration sees compelling it to take military action on the peninsula.

The senior member of the Armed Services and Appropriations committees, said in answer to a question Wednesday that if you are the president, “you’ve got to make a decision” that in your mind and the intelligence community’s assessment the danger line has been crossed and show “he means it” when it comes to preventative use of military force.

Several times during the presentation, Graham emphasized, “If you say denial [of nuclear weapons is the policy], you better mean it.” He said based upon past American responses to their missile and weapons program advances, the North Koreans “don’t believe we’ll use force.”

North Korea believes that as a country with nuclear weapons “they are home free” and have Ukraine as an example of what can happen to a nation that removes its nuclear force.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., he added that decision is fraught with risks. That starts with: “It’s hard to gather good intelligence in an authoritarian regime,” a reference to an assessment of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. “You can be wrong.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Feb. 23, 2016. US National Guard Photo

Several times during the presentation, Graham emphasized, “If you say denial [of nuclear weapons is the policy], you better mean it.” He said based upon past American responses to their missile and weapons program advances, the North Koreans “don’t believe we’ll use force.”

At the beginning of the session, he said, “A war with North Korea would be devastating. I don’t think you can surgically strike North Korea,” which could lead to retaliation against South Korea and/or Japan and a wider war.

As to whether Seoul and Tokyo should embark upon their own nuclear weapons programs as a hedge, he said, “I don’t think having Japan and South Korea go nuclear protects us.”

Graham said, “I wouldn’t put any conditions on talking” with North Korea and more actively engaging China in containing Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions. But in addressing several earlier questions, he said that he believes inviting North Korea to the Winter Olympics, scheduled to open next month, “is a very bad message to send” to Kim. He compared it to Adolf Hitler’s using the 1936 Games to promote Nazi Germany.

The choice comes down to containment or denial of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. “I’d do the second… Anything they build they’ll sell” to other states such as Iran or to terrorist organizations. He termed the North Korean regime “cash-starved and crazy” in its willingness to sell weapons of mass destruction to any buyer.

In discussing the theocratic regime of Iran as a long-range threat to the United States and immediate threat to Israel, Graham said he was willing to re-impose sanctions on Tehran for its continuing efforts to destabilize the Middle East through proxy wars in Yemen, support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria with its own forces and Shi’a militias and through allies such as Hezbollah from Lebanon and its political meddling in Iraq.

Graham suggested leaving a “residual force [of Americans] in Iraq … at least 10,000” to show the United States’ commitment to the Sunni tribes, especially in Anbar Province, and the government in rebuilding the country.

In Syria, he said the United States “needs a credible [Sunni] option to Assad” and not just the Kurds in opposing his regime and finding ways of reducing Russian influence in the country.

“I’m not willing to give another Arab capital to the Iranians,” a reference to their limited success in Yemen and strong hand in Lebanon and Iraq, a majority Shi’a country. He added, “We’ve got to get ahead of them” in exerting influence in the Middle East and keeping their nuclear program in check, so it doesn’t become a weapons program.

He added that cutting the State Department ‘s budget by about 30 percent was not going to fly in Congress. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he put back money that had been cut in last year’s budget and is prepared to do the same for the coming year.

“The soft power component is essential to winning the war” against Islamic extremism. he used the example of building “a small schoolhouse for girls” as an example.

Graham said he was encouraged by the Trump’s administration’s more assertive foreign policy. “Compared to a year ago, I’m the happiest guy in the world.”

 

  • Duane

    It’s not up to Trump to make the decision to attack North Korea. Our Constitution requires that Congress authorize any war or use of offensive force. The War Powers Resolution, which itself is Constitutionally suspect, never having been tested in litigation before the Supreme Court, and which many Constitutional scholars believes is unconstitutuional, only allows the President to respond to direct attacks without a prior Congressional authorization. Absent a NK attack on the US, under WPA, Trump cannot launch an attack on his own authority. No matter what Sen. Graham says.

    Every war we’ve ever had, whether officially declared as a war, or pursued as a war, had Congressional authorization.

    Absent a NK attack on the US or one of our allies, there is no way the Congress will ever authorize a preemptive or preventive war against NK. It is politically impossible.

    • Jay

      Congress abrogated its responsibilities for War 18 years ago. That ship has sailed and sunk.

      • Charles Pierce

        Read Article 2 Section 2 of the constitution that says the President is the Commander in Chief. Also go read the July 1950 UN resolution that sanctioned the stopping of the North Korean attack to the south that ended in an Armistice. The Korean war like the war in first Gulf war never ended.

        • Duane

          As Commander in Chief, POTUS has power to direct the military. But the military cannot launch a war without Congressional Authorization, per the Constitution. Presidents have no such authority to start a preemptive war.

          In Korea, the United States and our ally Republic of Korea were attacked by North Korea. Congress appropriated funds for the military to continue to protect itself and ROK as long as the hostilities continued.

          • Charles Pierce

            The US has engaged in 256 war or war like engagements in its history, the congress has declared war only 6 times. The Commander in Chief can move troops to any place and engage in any activities that the Congressional funding allows for, the Congressional control is in the funding. The Korean War is a war that was fought under the UN banner, the US is part of the Grand Coalition but the US forces are still under the UN banner.

          • Duane

            The Congress authorized most of those, whether with a formal declaration of war, or with authorizations for use of military force, or will appropriations to fund the military in carrying out its operations .. and the rest were defensive operations. The US military is always authorized to defend itself, as happened in Korea in 1950 when the NORKs invaded.

          • Charles Pierce

            The first Congressional use of force authorization was passed in 2001, we had fought over 200+ wars before it first use. The control that congress has is in the budget and the budget alone. In Article 1 Section 8 Clause 12 congress can only fund the Army for 2 years everything else for a longer period. On July 7, 1950 the UN determined that the invasion of South Korea by the North was a breach of the Peace and authorized the UN command under General MacArthur to repel the North, the UN army was made up of 53 nations, the USKF included. The armistice was signed by the UN not the US.

          • Duane

            As I wrote Congress authorized offensive operations via a combination of AUMF and specific appropriations. Defensive operations require no Congressional authorization. Launching an offensive preemptive war is clearly only allowable with a Congressional declaration of war or AUMF.

            Again, Presidents are only commenders of the troops. Congress makes laws and declares war and authorizes military actions and appropriates funds to pay for them.

            Yes, I get it that it’s the standard Trumpian fantasy that Trump is now our dictator. You may wish, but we are still a Constitutional republic. If Trump attempts to dicatate unilaterally an offensive war, he will be impeached and removed from office.

          • NavySubNuke

            “If Trump attempts to dicatate unilaterally an offensive war, he will be impeached and removed from office.”
            Just as Bush 41 was in 1989 after invading Panama without congressional approval?
            Or just as Obama was in 2011 after bombing Libya without congressional approval?

          • Duane

            The so-called “invasion of Panama” was anything but. It was a minor police action, after Panama declared war on the United States, to enforce the provisions of the Torrijos-Carter treaties taken to defend US citizens and property including military bases in Panama, after the Panamanians under Noriega, a notorious narco-terrorist and money launderer, violently attacked four US soldiers killing one of them. A potential military action to remove the narco-terrorist government of Noriega, who repeatedly violated the terms of the Torrijos-Carter treaties that transfered the canal to Panama, had been openly discussed for the prior year and a half, and President Bush consulted with Congress and obtained Congressional approval. The entire action lasted one month and 1 week, and was in direct response to a formal declaration of war on the USA and fatal attack on US troops, taken as a defensive action to directly protect US troops and property. Classic WPA case.

            That you are so incredibly foolish to think that that provides precedence for Trump to launch what is virtually certain to turn into a nuclear war with prospective deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps million, and being on the second time in all of human history with nuclear attacks (whether offensive or defensive) just reveals the pathetic state of your foolishness and incapability of understanding anything in the slightest about our Constitution and even our society itself. You obviously skated through your 7th grade civics class, as you obviously know nothing about us Americans, our government, and our norms and traditions and actual practice of governing,

            SMH

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL. There you go again spouting an entire wall of useless text to avoid having to admit —- yet again — that you are completely wrong and have no idea what you are talking about.
            It is rather entertaining in that entire rant on Operation Just Cause, none of which actually contradicts my essential point of the constitution doing nothing to limit the ability of the President to take unilateral action with the military without consulting congress, you never once mention Libya. Nor is there any actual evidence of approval or authorization by congress of offensive action against Panama.
            I especially enjoy your little trip to fantasy land where you imagine this has something to do with Trump. Sweetie, the discussion at hand is about the separation of powers between the branches of government and what the constitution does and does not allow.

          • Duane

            I admit nothing because there is nothing to admit. What you mock as a wall of text is the truthful facts. The invasion of Panama was NOT a war, and it was done in full consultation with Congress, and was a defensive action performed only after Panama declared war on the US and initiated military action that killed a US soldier. The response was anything and everything BUT a war. It was a police action, in the purest and most meaningful sense of the term.

          • Charles Pierce

            You know why the WPA has never been challenged in court, because it is flat unconstitutional and both the congress and the executive know that, the use of force acts are a political trick to get congress on the hook for the actions so that the democrats can not come back and say that you were wrong and criticize the president.

          • NavySubNuke

            What I mock your willful ignorance, fragile ego, and complete lack of personal integrity that causes you to post an entire wall of text to attempt to distract people from the fact you are wrong.
            You say that Panama was invaded in “full consultation” with congress – but consultation is a meaningless and empty term in the law.
            You ignorantly, foolishly, and incorrectly claim that congress is supposed to authorize ALL offensive military actions — so prove it.
            Show me – from the congressional record with the exact bill number and the passage by both houses of congress – the authorization for offensive military actions for:
            The Quasi war with France
            The Barbary “wars”
            The Invasion of Panama
            The bombing of Libya in 2011
            And please – no useless walls of text — just the date of passage and the bill number.

          • Charles Pierce

            War is war, Panama was actually planned over a long period of time to be an swift strike war.

          • Duane

            It was a defensive operation, we were warred upon first, and we responded in a very measured and restrained way, focusing mostly on just taking out the narco-terrorist who was terrorizing Panama and Americans in Panama, completed in 5 weeks. It was not a “war”in any common sense understanding of the term.

            If you believe all wars and military actions are equivalent, let me introduce you to the facts

            Civil war dead – over 4 years, approximately (nobody really knows) 600 thousand to 700 thousand.

            World War One – Over a bit over 4 years, US dead about 117 thousand, worldwide dead about 16 million.

            World War two – Over 6 years, US dead about 400 thousand, worldwide dead about (nobody really knows) 50 to 50 million.

            Vietnam war – Over 20 years, US dead a little more than 58,000, Vietnamese war dead, again nobody knows for sure, but around 1.06 million.

            Iraq War – over 7 years, US dead 4,500, total dead, ISF and coalition dead, about 23,000 more, and enemy combatants dead, about 37,000 dead. Untold numbers of civilians killed by terrorists.

            Panama “war” – Over 5 weeks, US dead 26, and Panamanian forces dead – 230

          • Charles Pierce

            I do not know were you were trained at or by whom but the difference between a defensive war and an offensive war does not exist. Again if the congress does not want the president to do some thing they can simply not fund the operation. Example, Teddy Roosevelt wanted to send the Great White Fleet around the world and congress would not appropriate the money, so he used the money he had and got them to Hong Kong, and told congress to bring them back.

          • Duane

            It does exist in the War Powers Resolution. WPA specifically prohibits offensive and preemptive military actions. The US must be attacked first. Even that allowable action is constitutionally suspect.

          • NavySubNuke

            “The US military is always authorized to defend itself, as happened in Korea in 1950 when the NORKs invaded”
            Hardly – we were down to about 200 – 300 troops in Korea by June 1950 —- strictly an advisory and training mission.
            As I said above the best example of the US using military force without any approval by congress for an extended period of time is Libya in 2011.
            The invasion of Panama in 1989 was also carried out without prior congressional approval.

      • Duane

        Congress does not have the Constitutional right to abrogate its responsibilities, for one thing. For another, Congress DID authorize the use of military force in Afghanistan and later in Iraq.

    • RDF

      The reality is when the rounds start flying, the war has started, regrdless of congressional intent.

      • Duane

        The reality is that if Trump violates the clear language of the Constitution and orders a preemptive war without Congressional authorization, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has already stated to Congress that he and military leaders are prepared to disobey illegal orders of POTUS. If the military obeys illegal orders, then Trump will be impeached and removed from office. And those senior officers will be charged and convicted with carrying out illegal orders.

        • RDF

          I dont think so. Pres has the right to commit troops for 30 days. For this nuke war in Korea 30 minutes ought to be enough. Then 30 more hours to make the entire earth uninhabitable, once China and Russia who will both be heavily irradiated get involved.

          • Duane

            Under the Constitution, there is no such provision, which is why many, if not most Constitutional scholars believe that the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. It has never been adjudicated. Congress must authorize a war under the Constitution, and then once authorized, then POTUS commands the military forces in its execution, along with Congressional funding and oversight throughout. That’s what the Constitution requires, and that is how it has always worked out. On minor affairs, it is enough usually for POTUS to consult with leaders of Congress before taking action, giving Congress the opportunity to weigh in and either decide it does not rise to the level of “war”, or that it does and therefore hold a vote on a declaration of war or authorization for military force. If Trump launches a preemptive war on NK, it will not be a minor affair, and he will therefore be required to seek Congressional authorization.

            We are a a republic, and a nation of law. We are not a dictatorship.

          • RDF

            Reality is Prez gets 30 days. Its enough to waste the planet several times over.

        • RDF

          By whom? I don’t think so.

      • kye154

        Agree! The Constitution and the War Powers Act are simply bureaucratic formalities. Other people are going to be deciding when and where to go to war and congress won’t have much of a say in it, other than to ratify, or not to ratify, the choice handed to them. Even then, it won’t make any difference whether the law is followed or not, particularly if you have strong personalities in office.. The U.S. has had a long history of this. The first time this happened was in 1830, when the state of Georgia got congress passed the Indian Removal Act. However, the Supreme Court struck down the Act as being wholly unconstitutional, yet, president Andrew Jackson enforced it anyway, and sent the Army to dispose of all the Indians east of the Mississippi river. Many Indians died as a result, yet no one called him on the carpet for doing this. So, the laws are just formalities and nothing more, and they rarely ever apply to the people who are at the top of the food chain..

    • NavySubNuke

      “Our Constitution requires that Congress authorize any war or use of offensive force
      — The parts in bold are not correct
      1. Congress declares war – it doesn’t authorize it. There is a big difference there though I realize you won’t agree.
      2. The Constitution places no limits on the Commander-In-Chief’s ability to wage offensive actions via the military. That is the whole reason the war power act exists.
      The use of military force in Libya in 2011, which took place without any kind of congressional authorization though congress was notified, is a perfect example of the President using the military to carry out offensive actions against another country that had not in any way attacked the United States or even our allies.

      • Duane

        The Constitution provides no affirmative authorization to POTUS other than to command the military forces, which are subserviant to the government and must take an oath to defend the Constitution, not to serve POTUS or any other person or body. Only Congress can send the military to war, in accordance with the Constitution that solely empowers Congress to declare war. In the context of the time at which the Constitution was drafted and ratified, under the systems in place for hundreds of years, only the legislative bodies could declare war, Even the King of England, Ireland, and Scotland could not unilaterally wage war without the consent of Parliament, and without the funding that necessarily makes war possible, with out the consent of Parliament.

        Only a dictator can declare war unilaterally. We do not have dictators in the USA, never have had one, and I do not expect we ever will have one. Trump and the Trumpists obviously wish otherwise. They will be disappointed, as always.

        • NavySubNuke

          Oh dear, there you go again spitting out a bunch of gobbly-gook and non-sequiturs in a failed attempt at covering up the fact you were once again wrong. Your fragile ego really is entertaining.

          • Duane

            Let me directly quote the Constitution of the United States of America, Article Two, Section Two:

            “1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; ”

            There is no language in Article Two, Section Two, which defiines the powers of the President, with respect to the military, other than those words quoted above. There is no affirmative language in the Constitution granting the President the power to make war, or to declare war. None, zip, nada, never, not at all.

            The Constitution DOES explicitly grant the power to declare war exclusively to Congress.

            Furthermore, the Federalist Papers, written by the same gentlemen who authored the Constitution itself, and which have served many times as the basis of Supreme Court rulings on the separation of powers, specifically addresses war in Federalist #69, a portion of which I quote below, entirely in context of the powers of POTUS:

            “The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies — all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.”

            Sorry, you came to a constutional gunfight equipped with spit wads .. you lose yet again, and again, and again …

          • NavySubNuke

            The funny things you think you are proving me wrong but in actuality you are just proving me right.
            Duane: “Our Constitution requires that Congress authorize any war or use of offensive force”
            Me: Actually congress DECLARES war and the constitution places no limit on the ability of the President to use offensive force.
            Duane (once again changing his story): “blah blah blah blah blah The Constitution DOES explicitly grant the power to declare war exclusively to Congress.blah blah blah blah blah”
            You’ll notice in that all of that useless and unnecessary blah’ing you did you never once pointed out any limit on the ability of the president to engage in unilateral offensive actions without the support of congress — as we did in 1989 when we invaded Panama and as we did in 2011 when we bombed Libya.
            But thank you for once again proving your willful ignorance, fragile ego, and complete lack of personal integrity. Not that there was ever any real doubt of your complete ignorance of history.
            Good try though Duane – keep it up and eventually you might actually make a statement that is close to intelligent.

          • Duane

            No power is granted to the government to declare war – which as everybody who is not a purposely obtuse and irredeemable Trumpian dictatorship lover, is the power to make war – except as provided specifically to Congress and no other officer or branch of the government.

            As Madison wrote above in Federalist #69 – which obviously either you refused to read, or else you are mentally incapable of comprehending the plainest of English words that he used – a President is just the most senior of the generals or admirals. He is not a King, and cannot take the nation to war as a king would do. Madison stated that unequivocably in Federalist # 69. Only the Congress has the power to take the nation to war. Period, end of story.

            Remember, dude, the guys that wrote Federalist #69 were the guys who wrote the Constitution. The “framers”. The Federalist papers were written explicitly to explain to generations thereafter exactly what the Framers intended. This cannot be more plain in the words stating explicitly that the President cannot declare war. And the plain meaning of the daywas that “declare war” is to “make war”. Nations did not go to war in the 18th century unless the government of the nation declared war. By the words above of the framers of the Constitution, the CinC is merely the senior most military commander, who takes his orders from the Government, which is for purposes of making war, the government is the Congress. Per the Constitution.

          • NavySubNuke

            “Nations did not go to war in the 18th century unless the government of the nation declared war. ”
            Interesting. Have you ever heard of the Quasi war with France? Or what about attacks against the Barbary Pirate states?
            Tell me – for each of those military actions in which the commander-in-chief directed the military forces of the United States of America to undertake actions against a foreign nation did the United States Congress declare war?
            The Quasi war with France took place in 1798 – 1800. The actions against the Barbary pirates all occurred in the early 1800s. During each of these periods, during the tail end of the 18th century and begging of the 19th, nearly all the framers of the Constitution were alive.
            The Founding Fathers never intended for the President to have to go to congress with his hat in his hand begging for permission to use the military as he saw fit. Just as military commanders of the day were free to use their discretion and to engage in operations as necessary to meet the needs of the Nation the Founding Fathers specifically ensured the President had the latitude to do what was necessary to ensure the safety and security of America. Whether that meant launching punitive expeditions against pirates, invading sovereign powers to remove their leader and bring him back to America in chains, or accomplishing whatever it was we did in Libya.
            No matter what time period you choose in our history from the founding of the Republic to modern times – you are wrong. Feel free to spin it however your willful ignorance, fragile ego, and complete lack of personal integrity require but you will still, yet again and as always, be wrong.

          • Charles Pierce

            The Declaration of War is a political act and as such Congress has been give that authority. The deployment of and use of military forces is the prerogative of the Commander in Chief.

          • Duane

            Congress authorized the funding and construction of the six ships of the US Navy specifically to defend against the Barbary states, who declared war on the US in 1801. At the request of the new President Jefferson who indeed consulted with Congress and obtained their support to build and deploy a force to challenge the Barbary states.

            You consistently fail to comprehend that US Presidents cannot and do not launch wars on their own authority, without Congressional declarations of war, authorizations for military force, and explicit Congressional funding of specific military actions in advance. It simply is not done because, contrary to you bubble-inhabiting Trumpians, we are not a dictatorship and we do not elect dictators or Kings.

          • NavySubNuke

            Wow we’ve gone from requiring the authorization of congress to “obtaining their support”
            It really is funny to watch you constantly lie and change your story to avoid having to admit you are wrong.
            What you consistently fail to comprehend is how feeble your attempts at looking intelligent actually are and how no one actually believes the ignorant and obviously inaccurate nonsense that you post.
            You keep trying to make this about Trump but it is more about Presidents Adams (Quasi war with France), Jefferson (Barbary “wars”), Bush 41 (invasion of Panama), Obama (Libya 2011), and numerous other presidents who have engaged in offensive military action without any authorization from congress —- because as is clearly understood by any American with a functioning brain no such authorization from congress is now (nor has ever been) required.

  • kye154

    Yes, we know that game very well about “red lines”. Just keep moving the red line until your adversary has no other choice but to cross it, then its your excuse for war.

    This is what happened after the first Gulf War. We imposed brutal economic sanctions on Iraq after that war in 1991, and Saddam Hussein found a way of getting around them by switching currencies from the petrodollar to the Euro in 2000.. This had the effect of breaking the sanctions and weakening the value of the dollar and undermined the US economy in retaliation to what the U.S. did over the preceding 9 years. Even the U.N. Security Counsel approved Iraq’s switch in October of 2000, going against U.S. demands. Needless to say, the U.S. could not have its hegemony in the region challenged, so it became a “red line” obsession with the U.S., even before the 9/11 attack, and,that was really the primary reason why we chose to have a second war in Iraq in 2003.

    So, here we are today, doing the same thing to North Korea. We just keep egging them on,by parking our military might along their borders, and by imposing stiffer sanctions, even on their food supplies, (we sanctioned fishing), which will cause them to become desperate, and they will get to a point of finally retaliating in some way against the U.S. sanctions, and the U.S.will eventually get their “Red Line” wish for a nuclear war. But, unlike Iraq, who never had the ability to militarily threaten America, North Korea now has. So, the main question becomes, is the U.S. really stupid enough to risk it, by continually antagonizing North Korea for war?

    • RDF

      Short answer, this administration yes. They are.

  • Jay

    Princess Lindsey is uniquely talented. Like Gumby in his multiple reversals on Trump’s policies and performance… and able to simultaneously lie while fellating the President. Where do we get such…. whatever he is.

  • John B. Morgen

    Trump is not going to take any corrective against North Korea, if another test missile is launched.