Duncan Hunter made news this week for stating that it would be a good idea to use preemptive military action with North Korea. Now it would be forgivable to roll one’s eyes, groan, mutter sarcastic words about the wisdom of our Representative and move on to the next issue; however, Rep. Hunter sits on the House Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee; meaning his opinions about war and peace, actually do impact our nation’s military decisions.
The House Armed Services Committee, “retains exclusive jurisdiction for: defense policy generally, ongoing military operations, the organization and reform of the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, counter-drug programs, acquisition and industrial base policy, technology transfer and export controls, joint interoperability, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Department of Energy nonproliferation programs, and detainee affairs and policy” (https://armedservices.house.gov/about/jurisdiction-and-rules). While “The Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee is responsible for overseeing counter-terrorism programs and initiatives and counter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, this subcommittee oversees U.S. Special Operations Forces, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) [DARPA’s mission is: “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security” – think precision weapons, stealth technology, GPS and the internet (https://www.darpa.mil/about-us/about-darpa)], information technology and programs, force protection policy and oversight, and related intelligence support. It makes sure that our nation is protected against terrorist attacks and unconventional threats” (https://armedservices.house.gov/subcommittees/emerging-threats-capabilities). To put it more succinctly, Rep. Hunter sits on the Committee and Subcommittee that are in charge of the House’s input into our nation’s military decisions, such as war.
So now that the seriousness of Rep. Hunter’s musings on this matter has been underscored, let us return to what exactly his comments were. In an interview (on 9/21/17) with KUSI-TV’s, Good Morning San Diego, Hunter stated that: “You could assume, right now, that we have a nuclear missile aimed at the United States, and here in San Diego. Why would they not aim here, at Hawaii, Guam, our major naval bases?”; “The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or, two? Do you preemptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with. I would preemptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want,”; “They can reach the US mainland. They might [not] be able to hit it within a block radius. They may be aiming for Coronado but hit El Cajon,”; “I don’t know how much more reckless (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) needs to be and what the United States needs to see, This is a clear and present danger,” ((http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-hunter-attack-20170921-story.html). Rep. Hunter has also been cited as saying, “From my perspective, why would I not hit you first? Why not do a preemptive strike when you have ICMBs leveled at the U.S. and you’re not a logical player in the world scene,” “… preemptively striking them and taking them out, I personally think that’s the only thing to get them not to have nuclear missiles at the United States,” (http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Rep-Hunter-Demands-Preemptive-Strike-on-North-Korea-Sparking-Controversy-446947653.html). Despite the logical incompatibilities with the previous statements, Rep. Hunter also stated that, “the United States and the world wants North Korea to be a “stable, friendly country that’s not shooting nukes at people” (https://timesofsandiego.com/politics/2017/09/21/rep-hunter-hit-north-korea-now-because-its-likely-aiming-at-san-diego/).
The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board put out an opinion piece titled, “Rep. Hunter call for ‘pre-emptive strike’ worst thing he’s ever said as a politician”, the closing line of which states, “Hunter, who should have more savvy, instead said this, “I would pre-emptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want.” How about calling it absolutely crazy?” (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/editorials/sd-north-korea-duncan-hunter-preemptive-attack-20170922-story.html?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Contentutm_content=59c637b004d30133bc95502dutm_medium=trueAnthemutm_source=twitter). In addition to the fantastic headline and closing line, the op-ed eloquently states exactly why Rep. Hunter’s idea is not just terrible one but an utterly dangerous one too: “Just across the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, Pyongyang has assembled some 8,000 artillery cannons and rocket launchers that can quickly drop destruction on the 25 million South Koreans who live within 70 miles of the border in Seoul and its sprawling suburbs. This is not the nuclear arsenal being assembled by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, which may be vulnerable to a sophisticated cyberattack. This is low-tech weaponry capable of raining 300,000 rounds in an hour if Pyongyang realized U.S. missiles were en route.
The death toll could easily reach the millions.
The prospect of such vast carnage is why the Pentagon dropped its threats of unilateral action against Pyongyang in 1994 during a previous tense chapter. It’s why then-senior White House official Steve Bannon declared last month that “there’s no military solution” to North Korea’s saber-rattling. It’s why containment of Kim, not confrontation, is the smartest, least risky approach,” (Source: see above).
With regards to Steve Bannon, while adviser in the White House, he stated, “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us,” (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-hunter-attack-20170921-story.html).
Additional criticism came from Shawn Vandiver, the San Diego director of the Truman National Security project. “The fact is, a preemptive strike from us results in tens of thousands of deaths, many of whom may be Duncan Hunter’s constituents, all of whom are American citizens or wearing our uniforms and that is absolutely unacceptable,”(http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Rep-Hunter-Demands-Preemptive-Strike-on-North-Korea-Sparking-Controversy-446947653.html).
And now it is time for us, Hunter’s constituents to voice our criticism ….