The Dangerous Misunderstanding at the Core of the North Korea Debate

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

Donald Trump lies so frequently and so brazenly that it’s easy to forget that there are political untruths he did not invent. Sometimes, he builds on falsehoods that predated his election, and that enjoy currency among the very institutions that generally restrain his power.

That’s the case in the debate over North Korea. On Monday, The New York Times declared that “the United States has repeatedly suggested in recent months” that it “could threaten pre-emptive military action” against North Korea. On Sunday, The Washington Post—after asking Americans whether they would “support or oppose the U.S. bombing North Korean military targets” in order “to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons”—announced that “Two-thirds of Americans oppose launching a preemptive military