Telling North Korea that all options are on the table, President Donald Trump’s National Security adviser H.R. McMaster engaged in gunboat diplomacy, warning North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un that the U.S is preparing for preemptive war. After two recent Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] tests, the Trump administration is no longer kidding promising to stop North Korea’s nuke and ballistic missile program. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama allowed Kim to continue ramping up his nuke and ballistic missile program in a policy called “strategic patience.” With Kim threatening to lay waste to the U.S. with a nuclear strike, Trump no longer has the luxury of kicking the can down the road. McMaster’s recent remarks about preemptive war suggest, at the very least, that the Pentagon’s busy preparing to neutralize North Korea.

When the Senate voted to sanction Russia again July 27, they effectively killed Trump’s campaign promise to reset U.S.-Russian relations . With Russian President Vladimir Putin retaliating July 29, ordering 755 embassy personnel in Moscow removed, the days of Russia playing a diplomatic role in deescalating tensions with North Korea are over. Trump hoped after a successful meeting with Putin July 7 at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany to bring Putin into the process. Congress showed its tone deafness to linkage, slapping Putin with new sanctions. More than punishing Russia, Congress, Democrats and Republicans, neutered Trump, preventing him from operating as Commander-in-Chief. McMaster’s recent remarks about preemptive war with North Korea recognize the fact the U.S. has dwindling options to stop Kim’s nuke and ICBM program.

While the media remains fixated on Russian meddling and Trump collusion in the 2016 election, the real business of U.S. national security goes on. None is greater that neutralizing North Korea’s ICBM and nuke program. Trump urged China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner, to apply pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuke and ballistic missile program. Trump’s only recently realized the limits of China’s influence on North Korea’s 33-year-old dictator. “What you’re asking is, are we preparing plans for a preventive war, right? McMaster answered a question from MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt. McMaster sends a strong message to Pyongyang that the U.S., under Trump, won/t allow North Korea to develop a nuclear-packed ICBM. Consumed by politics, no one in the media has yet come up to speed with the growing prospects of war on the Korean Peninsula.

Once thought unthinkable, war on the Korean Peninsula has become a real possibility with the U.S. exhausting diplomatic options. Kim’s showed no signs of blinking when it comes to his nuke and ballistic weapons program. With Kim threatening to “turn the U.S. into ashes,” it’s a different ballgame. Neither China nor Russia have been threatened by Kim with nuclear war. When the U.S. battled North Korea to loggerheads in 1953, there was no mood to continue the war, eventually ending with an armistice July 27, 1953. Korea was divided along the 38th parallel, leaving the South under U.S. protection in span of over 64 years, South Korea has become the 11th-ranking world economic power, while the Stalinist North remains poorer than most African countries. South Korean President Moon Jae-in worries about devastation in Seoul from a preemptive war.

Whatever the risks to South Korea, with over 30,000 U.S. troops stationed, the U.S. must now weigh potential casualties from a nuclear attack. For 64 years, U.S. troops kept North Korea from encroaching on South Korea. Now Trump has to worry about protecting the U.S. homeland from a nuclear attack. “A war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon . . “ said McMaster, telegraphing to Kim that his regime is on thin ice. When Congress sanctioned Russia, they left the U.S. out on a plank, with little options left to stop North Korea’s nuke program. When you consider the outright hostility toward Russia, it makes you wonder whether war hawks on Capitol Hill, like Sen John McCain (R-Az.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), really seek war with Russia, something also thought unthinkable.

McMaster sent a loud message to North Korea that time is running out on a diplomatic solution to the nuke standoff. Preemptive war on the Korean Peninsula could cause untold numbers of casualties in South Korea and to U.S. troops. If Kim gets a nuke-fitted ICBM, he will blackmail the U.S., constantly threatening U.S. national security. China and Russia, once close allies in the Korean War, would have to pick sides, likely siding with Kim, though it’s doubtful the U.S. would get sucked into a protracted ground war beyond defending South Korea. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis made clear the U.S. does not seek regime change in Pyongyang. While that’s true, the U.S. would prefer him gone. Gunboat diplomacy can only go so far if Kim stubbornly hangs onto his nuke and ballistic missiles, pushing the world dangerously close to the brink.