Why Trump's national security adviser thinks it might soon be time to bomb North Korea

  • President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, has consistently expressed hawkish views on North Korea and is reportedly pushing for a "bloody nose" strike against the Kim regime.
  • McMaster has a foreign policy vision that calls for the US to reverse decades of waning power by standing up to adversaries like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.
  • The US has been steadily declining in international efficacy and absorbing a constant stream of foreign policy losses, but has managed to avoid a major war.
  • McMaster's "bloody nose" idea could stop the erosion of US power, but it could also start a major war.


President Donald Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, seems to think that the US's complete military and nuclear supremacy over North Korea cannot deter Kim Jong Un from attacking the US, and that a strike is needed to stop him.

It also appears that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis are the key figures holding Trump back from taking McMaster's advice.

McMaster, who led the US's counterinsurgency strategy in the Iraq War of the early 2000s, frequently provides some of the most hawkish US statements on North Korea, only sometimes surpassed by Trump himself.

McMaster, even before he became Trump's national security adviser, has stood at the forefront of piecing together a comprehensive US military strategy for the post-Cold War era.

RELATED: Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a new North Korea missile

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Kim Jong Un watches launch of new Hwansong-15 missile in North Korea
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Kim Jong Un watches launch of new Hwansong-15 missile in North Korea
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is seen as the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15� test was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on November 29, 2017 and released on November 30, 2017 by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looking at launching of the Hwansong-15 missile which is capable of reaching all parts of the US. THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS AND AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / South Korea OUT / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / BYLINE' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15� test that was successfully launched, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 30, 2017. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS
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McMaster thinks traditional deterrence has failed

While traditional thinking since the fall of the Soviet Union has centered around maintaining a peaceful status quo and world order, McMaster has likened today's situation to 1914 and chastised the security community for taking a "holiday from history" and allowing the US's power and influence to decline while focusing on expensive defense projects.

"Geopolitics are back and are back with a vengeance," McMaster said when introducing the US's new national security strategy. 

McMaster also cowrote an article at the Association of the US Army in which he said that "hostile, revisionist powers — Russia, China, North Korea and Iran — annex territory, intimidate our allies, develop nuclear weapons, and use proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries."

McMaster asserted the US's adversaries named above "often act below the threshold that would elicit a concerted response from US and our allies," also noting in his 2016 speech to the Virginia Military Institute that the "hostile actors do not operate in isolation from one another."

"They watch and assess American actions and responses across the globe," he said. "They calibrate their actions.”

Essentially, McMaster posits that when the world sees Russia waging hybrid warfare in Ukraine and the Baltics and the US offers a muddled response, refusing for years to provide lethal aide to Ukraine, China, Iran, and North Korea become emboldened. While the US struggles to patrol China's massive land grab in the South China Sea or combat Iran's growing influence and use of proxy militias in Syria, North Korea assesses — correctly so far — that it can continue to defy the US without punishment.

RELATED: Satellite images of North Korea's nuclear test site

26 PHOTOS
Satellite images of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea
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Satellite images of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 2, 2017. Figure 1. Activity continues at the North Portal. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 2, 2017. Figure 2. Possible new dumping observed at the North Portal spoil pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 2, 2017. Figure 3. Probable personnel in formation or equipment in rows at the Main Administrative Area. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 30, 2017. Figure 1. No vehicles or trailers remain around the North Portal but well-worn paths are observed. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 30, 2017. Figure 2. No new dumping of material on the North Portal spoil pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 30, 2017. Figure 3. Small collection of crates or trailers seen in previous imagery has been removed. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 28, 2017. Figure 3B. Formations seen in the Main Administrative Area, similar to what was seen in lead up to 2013 nuclear test. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 28, 2017. Figure 2. Material dumped at the North Portal tailings pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - JANUARY 4, 2013. Figure 3A. Formations seen in the Main Administrative Area in lead up to 2013 nuclear test. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 28, 2017. Figure 1. Continued activity at the North Portal. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 25, 2017. Figure 1. Probable cabling and water drainage seen at the North Portal. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 19th, 2016: Figure 6: Excavation continued underground in the North Portal area suggesting more tests to come in the same tunnel complex directly under Mt. Mantap. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - JANUARY 5th, 2017: Figure 7: The North Portal spoil pile continued to expand into 2017, becoming increasingly broader. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - JANUARY 22nd, 2017: Figure 8: Late January 2017 imagery showing new spoil on top of recent snow. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 19th, 2016: Figure 9. A close-up of the North Portal spoil pile as it appeared in late October 2016. The unstable spoil can sometimes lead to accidents, as in this case of toppled rail cars downslope. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12th, 2017: Figure 10. A close-up of the North Portal spoil pile from February 2017 shows that accumulations had begun move westward with a broadening of the top and bottom west side of the pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 1. DigitalGlobe imagery showing large shipping container or crate seen at the North Portal. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 2. DigitalGlobe imagery showing no changes to pattern and texture of tailings (spoil) pile at the North Portal. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 3. DigitalGlobe imagery showing a small vehicle present at the West Portal. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 4. DigitalGlobe imagery showing a truck present in the southern courtyard of the Main Administrative Area. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 5. DigitalGlobe imagery showing a truck present at the sites Command Center. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 6. DigitalGlobe imagery showing snow cleared at guard barrack and security checkpoint. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 24, 2016: Figure 2. No activity seen at the Sohae launch pad. Date: October 24, 2016. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 24, 2016: Figure 3. Environmental shed remains adjacent to the vertical engine test stand. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 29, 2016: Figure 1C. Increased activity around the North Portal throughout October. Date: October 29, 2016. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
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North Korea, in particular, has proven adept at "salami-slicing," or advancing its interests against US demands in such small steps that no one provocation is enough for the US to initiate a war. 

Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran have all acted against US interests despite the US's nuclear arsenal and in what some would call defiance of traditional deterrence.

The US has seen its power in the Pacific, eastern Europe, and the Middle East decline exponentially as China, Russia, and Iran rise, but the strategy of tolerating a constant stream of slights has kept the US out of major conflicts. McMaster may want to change that.

Make America fight again

McMaster has indicated that standing up for US interests and punishing its adversaries may be more important than avoiding a massive war.

Asked about the North Korean crisis by the BBC in December, McMaster said "we're not committed to a peaceful resolution, we're committed to a resolution," adding that "we have to be prepared if necessary to compel the denuclearization of North Korea without the cooperation of that regime."

McMaster has openly questioned whether deterrence will work on North Korea. While few think North Korea would launch a nuclear attack on the US, as it would be a suicide mission, North Korea has transferred weapons and nuclear technology to US enemies. North Korea has also killed hundreds of US and South Korean civilians. 

RELATED: A look at H.R. McMaster

14 PHOTOS
National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
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National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
Newly named National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump announces his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Newly appointed National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump departs the room after announcing his new National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) who receives a handshake from newly named chief of staff of the National Security Council Gen. Keith Kellogg (C) at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with his new National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster after making the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster (C) and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (L) attend a joint news conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster delivers a statement to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster (L) arrives with Press Secretary Sean Spicer (R) to speak to reporters in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (2nd R) looks on as Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson (L) exchanges agreements with a Saudi official after a signing ceremony between Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and U.S. President Donald Trump at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. Also pictured are White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster (L), chief economic advisor Gary Cohn (3rd R) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump walks to Marine One with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster as they depart for a day trip to Miami from the White House in Washington, U.S., June 16, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump eats Belgian chocolate flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and National security adviser H.R. McMaster react as they eat Belgian chocolate during their meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster joins White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (unseen) for the daily briefing, to address sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro , at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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One solution that's increasingly discussed, and apparently is one of McMaster's ideas, is to teach North Korea a lesson with force. The "bloody nose" strategy, whereby the US carries out a limited strike on North Korea in response to some provocation, could achieve this.

Striking North Korea risks a major conflict that could quickly go nuclear. China, or even Russia, may get involved. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, could die.

As Uri Friedman points out in The Atlantic, McMaster's strategy would make a lot of sense as a bluff to convince US enemies that the country is now serious and willing to risk major wars to protect its interests, but Friedman quotes John Nagl, a retired Lt. Col who worked extensively with McMaster as saying that's unlikely.

“What H.R. says you can take to the bank,” said Nagl.

NOW WATCH: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un is 34 —here's how he became one of the world’s scariest dictators

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