On a sunny morning show on Tuesday, Lindsey Graham made an exceedingly dark calculation. North Korea’s second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile meant that Kim Jong Un is nearly capable of placing a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile and hitting the United States with it, the Republican senator noted on the Today show. And America can’t allow such a “madman” to get to that point, at whatever cost to non-Americans.
Donald Trump agrees, Graham added, and he knows that because he’s heard it straight from the president: Trump has “got to choose between homeland security and regional stability,” Graham argued. “Japan, South Korea, China would all be in the crosshairs of a war if we started one with North Korea. But if [North Korea gets] a missile they can hit California, maybe other parts of America.”
“If there’s going to be a war to stop [Kim Jong Un], it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And [Trump’s] told me that to my face,” Graham said. “That may be provocative, but not really. When you’re president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States.”
Graham is particularly fond of military solutions to foreign-policy problems; in his Today show appearance, he proposed “destroy[ing] … North Korea itself” to rid the country of nuclear weapons—which, whatever that means, is more aggressive than the Trump administration’s stated goals for any military operations. But Graham has expressed in blunt terms what other U.S. officials gloss over with their vague talk of “military response options” and everything remaining “on the table.”