Daniel R. DePetris
It might make things worse.
Putting Kim six feet underground is only one choice in a set of options that the National Security Council will present to President Trump for his consideration. It may even be a policy option that is so far outside the mainstream that Trump’s national-security aides would disabuse him of studying it further. Reaction from Beijing would be swift and unyielding, and as much as the South Korean and Japanese governments would like North Korea to behave more predictably, it’s not at all certain that Seoul and Tokyo would believe that assassinating the men at the top would achieve that objective.
When the first images of a sarin gas attack streamed into the White House Situation Room, President Donald Trump ordered his National Security Council to come back to him the next day with some concrete options. Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford did just that; after rounds of meetings with national-security principles, President Trump ordered the U.S. Navy to launch fifty-nine cruise missiles on an Assad regime airbase where the gas attack originated.
At the same time, the NSC was putting the final touches on a North Korea policy review that has been an ongoing project for months. Unlike the administration’s deliberations on the Syrian chemical weapons attack, President Trump is giving his national security advisers far more time and a wider degree of flexibility. Before the policy review began, the Wall Street Journal reported in March that Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland directed aides to include “ideas that one official described as well outside the mainstream.”