What are the odds that President Trump will order a preemptive strike on North Korea?

Posted 11 Aug 2017. 

The answers provided by others are very interesting, however many have not cast light upon one individual in the whole decision-making process who has (from my perspective) a bit more “pull” than is typically considered: the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis.

A quick Google search shows that Mattis is very much a realist when it comes to the idea of employing nuclear weapons against North Korea. For good reason: aside from the international reactions, the guaranteed refugee/humanitarian disaster that will immediately follow poses enough of a threat to the nations in close proximity to North Korea – as well as the responsibilities that the US would inherit as a result of such action – complicate any considerations in the use of force.

If the President issues such a strike, it will be interesting to see what resistance he will get from Mattis. I have no doubt that the Secretary of Defense will comply, if it comes to that, but the conversations and advice given on the matter will be scrutinized for decades.

[Edit]

Gray Wilton provided a very detailed answer to the question Step by step, what is the process required for the United States to launch a nuclear weapon? While I am not an expert in the field of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and the steps to properly descend into such… um… madness, the steps he provided mirror everything I have found on the topic…

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