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Pete McCloskey, the liberal Republican who served in the House for 10 years and is a Marine veteran of the Korean War, has plenty to say about the current showdown with North Korea.McCloskey wrote a book, The Taking of Hill 610 about his experiences in Korea, which radicalized him against indiscriminate bombing and “collateral damage” to civilians. He visited Pyongyang in 2014 to pay his respects to Korean soldiers he fought against. As Congressman, he was co-founder of Earth Day, co-author of the Endangered Species Act, and he ran against Richard Nixon on an anti-war platform in the 1972 GOP primaries.
After losing the 1982 Senate primary to Pete Wilson, McCloskey ran a small law office, and represented my friend Dennis Jones in two parole hearings. Your humble host was a paid advisor on McCloskey’s 2006 House race, where he came out of retirement to challenge anti-environmentalist Rep. Richard Pombo in Stockton, CA. McCloskey got over 30% of the vote, and Pombo was defeated in the general election. McCloskey left the Republican party in protest in 2007.
McCloskey delivers strong criticism of Trump’s UN insults aimed at Kim, and threats to North Korea. He fears that the two bluffing bullies will go too far, and spark a deadly conflict. He considers Trump an unpredictable psychopath, and notes that Korean culture places a high value on pride and nationalism. He worries that North Korean soldiers would be loyal to Kim–to the death–and that Trump’s threats and insults will harden their resolve.
In this wide-ranging conversation, we also talk about drones, war powers, weak Democrats, and Pete’s 90th birthday on September 29.