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What does the underlined “that” represent?


The passage below comes from Rage by Bob Woodward.


He did not think that President Trump would launch a preemptive strike on North Korea, although plans for such a war were on the shelf. The Strategic Command in Omaha had carefully reviewed and studied OPLAN 5027 for regime change in North Korea—the U.S. response to an attack that could include the use of 80 nuclear weapons. A plan for a leadership strike, OPLAN 5015, had also been updated.


In this passage I want to know what the underlined “that” indicates.

Does “that” represent “the U.S. response” or “an attack”?

Here’s my answer. It represents an attack, which is the North Korean attack that possibly include the use of 80 nuclear weapons.


Am I right?


Even though I am right, I want to ask one more.

Is there any possibility “that” indicates “the U.S. response” which suggests the writer, a recipient of nearly every major American journalism award, wrote an ambiguous sentence that could lead to a misunderstanding, which I don’t think so, but which some journalists of my country insist.

Comments  
Stenka25What does the underlined “that” represent?

attack

Stenka25Is there any possibility “that” indicates “the U.S. response” which suggests the writer, a recipient of nearly every major American journalism award, wrote an ambiguous sentence that could lead to a misunderstanding,

It certainly is ambiguous, and his editor must share the blame, unless he thinks he doesn't need one any more being one himself now. The chance of misinterpretation is slight, though, because even here with no context it is inconceivable that the US would use, or need, nukes to stomp little North Korea into the dirt, and nukes are the threat from North Korea. To claim otherwise is laughable propaganda. What is the point of regime change in a country that has had its entire population killed? Eighty nukes would vaporize the place. It's only a little bigger than Pennsylvania, or half the size of the UK, and practically everybody lives in the cities.