If you think Barack Obama's recent posture toward North Korea has been hawkish -- maybe even a little too hawkish -- he remains far more dovish than many politicos and policy wonks inside and outside his administration. This week, the White House dialed back its posture toward Pyongyang after a series of provocative flybys of B-52 bombers, B-2 bombers, and F-22 fighter jets risked triggering an even deeper crisis. But others would have him do more. These foreign policy thinkers have seen the Kim dynasty develop nuclear weapons, threaten the United States, violate reams of international agreements -- and they want to get tough. Though even the most extreme hawks have yet to endorse a preemptive strike in the current crisis, many have come very close. Behold, Washington's North Korea Hawks:
Title: Former vice president of the United States
Views: Cheney has always had a fairly straightforward view of Pyongyang over the years: "We don't negotiate with evil -- we defeat it." But in the new Showtime documentary about his life, which debuted in March, he revived his policy preferences on dealing with North Korea. In particular, he called former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "naive" for trying to negotiate with Pyongyang given its track record of deceit. He's also continued to slam the Obama administration for underfunding, in his view, U.S. missile defenses. "One of the things that I think is a wrong thing to do is, at this particular time, to cut our program for missile defense in the Defense Department," Cheney said of Obama's first term. "We've gotten a long way on missile defense...but we need to a lot more work to defend the United States."
Title: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
Views: A vintage conservative, Bolton's enthusiasm for foreign interventions hasn't lessened since his time in the Bush administration. Last week, on Fox News, where he is now a contributor, Bolton said the long-reigning U.S. policy of pursuing negotiations with Pyongyang regarding its nuclear program is a "bad idea" that "hasn't gotten any better with age." He made a direct call for regime change. "The threat here is the irrationality of this regime, coupled with this potential to use a weapon of mass destruction against innocent civilians. And we're not going to talk them out of it," he told Greta Van Susteren. "The solution lies in eliminating the regime, which we could try and do through reunifying the peninsula."
Title: U.S. congressman and member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Views: In a standoff with North Korea, King wouldn't let Pyongyang get a shot off. He told CNN last week that Obama has a "moral obligation" to preemptively strike North Korea if intelligence indicates a forthcoming attack. "If we have good reason to believe there's going to be an attack, I believe we have the right to take preemptive action," he said. "I don't think we have to wait until Americans are killed or wounded or injured in any way.... If we have solid evidence that North Korea's going to take action, then I think we have a moral obligation and an absolute right to defend ourselves."
Title: Deputy secretary of defense
Views: Although a senior Pentagon official tells Foreign Policy that Carter is "completely in sync" with the administration, Carter's past writing on North Korea tells a different story. With Pyongyang poised to test a new missile this week, The New York Times reports that Obama won't shoot it down unless it heads toward the United States or its allies. In a similar situation in 2006, however, Carter opposed this level of restraint. Prior to a North Korean missile launch, Carter co-wrote a Washington Post op-ed urging George W. Bush to destroy the missile on its launch pad. "Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil?" he wrote. "We believe not." It's possible Carter has since changed his mind, but for further evidence of hawkishness, see his 2002 op-ed in the Post arguing that the reasons to risk all-out war "are even more powerful now" than they were in 1994, when the United States confronted North Korea over its production of plutonium.
Title: U.S. senator
Views: McCain has never been shy about advocating the use of American power abroad and that holds for the Korean Peninsula. In an interview with Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin on Monday, McCain said the United States should shoot down any missile that North Korea launches, no matter where it is headed. "If they launched a missile, we should take it out. It's best to show them what some of our capabilities are," he said. "Their missile would most likely miss, but the fact that they have the ability to launch one with that range is very escalatory at least." When asked if a U.S. failure to hit the missile would cause unwanted embarrassment, he said, "That's true, but I would hope that would be a minimal risk."