Mattis, McMaster And North Korea: A ‘Transcript’ From The White House Meeting

The Long March
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If the Russians bugged the meeting when President Trump discussed options for attacking North Korea with his defense secretary, his secretary of state, and his national security advisor, this is what I imagine they possibly might have heard:

TRUMP: … Okay, bottom line, what I’m hearing is, between your B-61s and your special operators, plus a few hundred cruise missiles, you can pretty much take out most of the North Korean nuclear infrastructure and command and control system in 12 hours, with minimal fallout hitting Japan.

MATTIS: Yes, sir, that’s right. But...

TRUMP: (Interrupts) That’s just great. Thank you. (Starts to rise)

MATTIS: But there’s more. We know what we can do on Day One. The problem is Day Two. Sir...

TRUMP: (Sits back down and frowns) Hey, c’monnn, I signed up for the plan. What more do you want?

McMASTER: (Nudges Tillerson, who has been snoring, and whispers) We’re on Korea.

TILLERSON: (Clearly disoriented) What, Korea? Oh, yeah. (Brightly) Yes, absolutely, order six more platforms from Samsung Heavy.

MATTIS: Sir, the real question isn’t whether we can conduct the most damaging pre-emptive strike in history against them. Say you’ve done that and decapitated the regime. Say that most of the North Korean military has collapsed or surrendered.  Okay, what next? What do we do about those who don’t? And do American forces occupy North Korea? If so, for how long? Will we have combat with diehards in the northeast? Will Putin provide supplies and sanctuaries over his border, just to keep us busy? Are we prepared for a ground fight in Asia?

TRUMP:  Hey, don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions!

McMASTER: (Harrumphs and gathers his papers) Mr. President, I apologize. We will do just that in our next meeting with you. Thank you for your amazing leadership.

MATTIS: No so fast, Lieutenant General McMaster. (Turns to Trump) Sir, you can’t do Day One without thinking through Day Two. What happens next? That’s the question we have to address, to think through.

TRUMP: (Mutters) I’m beginning to see why Obama dumped you from Central Command. (Stands) I have a golf date. (Points at Mattis) The next time I see you three, I better hear some freaking answers, not just questions.

McMASTER: (Glares at Mattis)


To be continued...

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