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Time for a preemptive strike against North Korea? Some say yes.

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The official was then-Secretary of Defense William Perry, and the year was 1994. He recounts the episode in a book he cowrote with Ashton Carter, who is now the No. 2 civilian at the Pentagon: “Preventive Defense: A New Security Strategy for America.”

Such an attack didn’t occur in 1994, but today, in the face of North Korea’s belligerence, some are suggesting that the Pentagon dust off its plans.

“They have made a threat, and they have made a weapon – and it seems to me that is a legitimate reason for self-defense,” says Jeremi Suri, a professor of history and public affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

“We don’t want the Iranians, or North Koreans, or anyone else thinking it’s not – and if we wait for the next threat, the damage could be far worse,” Dr. Suri argues. “The safest thing to do is to destroy this weapon on the launchpad.”

It is an argument that Suri made in a New York Times op-ed on Friday entitled, “Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late.”

President Obama should state clearly and forthrightly that this is an act of self-defense in response to explicit threats from North Korea and clear evidence of a prepared weapon,” Suri writes.

“And he should explain that this is a limited defensive strike on a military target – an operation that poses no threat to civilians – and that America does not intend to bring about regime change. The purpose is to neutralize a clear and present danger. That is all,” he writes.

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