|Koreans sing "Imagine" and join together to light the Olympic Torch|
The whole world minus the US. VP Pence arrived at the Games like the Grinch who stole Christmas, bringing with him the father of the young man who was held in a North Korean prison and died when he returned. This was a terrible tragedy, but the United States has no moral high ground from which to criticize North Korea: innocent immigrants held in detention in US prisons are sexually abused and die in detention all the time, and Guantanamo and Abu Graib remain a stain on America's international reputation. Pence's behavior was considered so rude he has been snubbed by his Korean hosts.
The LA Times noted that the Olympics Games and suggested that it might even provide Pence with a chance to show some courtesy towards the sister of North Korean's leader:
Some are calling the Winter Games that open Friday in South Korea the "Peace Olympics." They point to several hopeful signs, including the presence at the Games of Kim Jong Un's sister and the fact that North and South Korean athletes will be marching at the opening ceremonies under a common "unification flag." (Their women's hockey teams will join forces for the Games as well.) There is even speculation that Vice President Mike Pence might strike up a conversation with a representative of the leader President Trump has called "Little Rocket Man." http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-olympics-korea-20180209-story.html
While Pence didn't rise to this occasion--he sat glumly when everyone stood up and cheered when North and South Korea lit the Olympic torch together--this is an opportunity for us to write a letter to the LA Times's editorial. The goal of FCNL campaign to avert war with North Korea for February isto publish as many media pieces as possible during this time when Korea is the the world's spot light. Here's a sample letter in response to LA Times Editorial “Korea’s Peace Olympics” (Friday, Feb 2).
As your editorial makes clear, and as anyone watching the inspiring opening of the Olympics can see, Koreans have a profound yearning for peace and reunification. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s incoherent policies and provocative behavior have greatly increased the risk of a nuclear war, according to the Atomic Scientists. That’s why we need to urge our elected officials to support bills that would bar the President from launching a conventional or nuclear first-strike against North Korea without Congressional authorization. So far, Representatives Chu and Waters support the House version of this bill, along with 63 others. Now is the time to contact your elected officials and let them know you don’t want Trump to start a conventional war in Korea that would kill up to 300,000 people in the first few days of fighting, according to the Congressional Research Service. Our unstable President needs to be reined in.
To contact the Times, google “submit letter to the LA Times” or go to http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-letter-to-the-editor-htmlstory.html.
You can also take part in one of the following lobby visits that we have scheduled.
Upcoming lobby visits:
Fri. Feb 16: Judy Chu’s aide at 2:30 pm.
Feb 20-21: Gomez, time uncertain
Thurs. March 1: Schiff, 2 pm.
March 2: Feinstein, 1 pm. Meet with her aide,
Below are some recommended readings from FCNL. To learn more, go to https://www.fcnl.org/updates/advocacy-teams-toolkit-39
|ICUJP vigil in front of Korean consulate on Wilshire took place on the first day of the Olympics|
Senators Sound Alarm Over South Korea Ambassador Vacancy, Warn Of Significant Risk Of Preemptive Strike Against North Korea
Heinrich leads group of 18 senators questioning Dr. Victor Cha’s removal from consideration to be Ambassador; Raises concerns over “bloody nose” strategy against North Korea
Monday, February 5, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led a group of 18 Senators, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), expressing serious concerns over the continued absence of a U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and asked for justification on the reported removal from consideration of a highly qualified candidate, Dr. Victor Cha, for that position. The senators also warned against the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation.
In a letter to President Trump, the senators emphasized the urgent need for diplomatic leadership, stating, “The challenge posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs is perhaps the most significant foreign policy challenge our nation has faced in decades. It is therefore shocking that the Administration – a full year into its term – has yet to formally nominate someone to be the ambassador, which is the highest-ranking U.S. government official in South Korea. It is equally disturbing that the individual being considered for this position, Dr. Victor Cha, who has extensive qualifications and experience, has been removed from consideration after receiving Agrément from South Korea.”
The senators outlined Dr. Cha’s extensive vetting and qualifications and raised concern with reports that the reason for Dr. Cha’s removal was his disagreement with a “bloody nose” strategy under consideration by the White House, and called for the Administration to provide clear reasoning and justification for his removal from consideration.
“Like many, we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation. Ultimately, it is an enormous gamble to believe that a particular type of limited, preemptive strike will not be met with an escalatory response from Kim Jong Un and neither the United States nor our allies should take that step lightly,” continued the senators.
In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on North Korea on January 30, 2018, each of the expert witnesses believed that such a “bloody nose” strategy carried extreme risks. Last month, Senator Heinrich sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressing his deep concerns regarding the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation.
On January 30th, Dr. Victor Cha, posted an Op-Ed in the Washington Post arguing that “Giving North Korea a ‘bloody nose’ carries a huge risk to Americans.”
The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
A copy of letter is available here and below.
President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Trump:
We write to express our serious concerns regarding the continued absence of a U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and the reported removal from consideration of a highly qualified candidate, Dr. Victor Cha, for that position. We ask that you provide clear reasoning and justification for his removal from consideration.
The challenge posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs is perhaps the most significant foreign policy challenge our nation has faced in decades. It is therefore shocking that the Administration – a full year into its term – has yet to formally nominate someone to be the ambassador, which is the highest-ranking U.S. government official in South Korea. It is equally disturbing that the individual being considered for this position, Dr. Victor Cha, who has extensive qualifications and experience, has been removed from consideration after receiving Agrément from South Korea.
We may or may not agree with Dr. Cha on every issue, and of course an administration is entitled to the nominees of its choosing, but it is our understanding that the White House conducted lengthy vetting, including security and financial background checks on Dr. Cha and that the Administration had formally notified Seoul of its intent to nominate Dr. Cha. According to reports, South Korean officials quickly approved Dr. Cha through its formal process and South Koreans lauded his potential nomination.
While we reserve our rights to provide advice and consent on ambassadorial nominations, it is our understanding that he is an eminently qualified individual to serve at a senior level in the U.S. Government. As you know, Dr. Cha previously served as director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council under the George W. Bush administration. Dr. Cha also served as the Deputy Head of Delegation for the United States at the Six Party Talks in Beijing. Currently, Dr. Cha is the Director of Asian Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is also a Senior Adviser and Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Despite Dr. Cha’s qualifications, it is being reported that Administration officials are asserting that the removal of Dr. Cha from consideration was based on a flag that was raised only after the lengthy background checks and other vetting that, typically, an individual under consideration for nomination undergoes prior to their name being submitted for the formal diplomatic process of Agrément. As a result, we respectfully request that you provide the justification for his removal from consideration.
According to some media reports, the real reason for Dr. Cha’s removal was his disagreement with a “bloody nose” strategy under consideration by the White House. Like many, we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of a preemptive military strike on North Korea and the risks of miscalculation and retaliation. Ultimately, it is an enormous gamble to believe that a particular type of limited, preemptive strike will not be met with an escalatory response from Kim Jong Un and neither the United States nor our allies should take that step lightly. In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on North Korea on January 30th, 2018, each of the expert witnesses believed that such a “bloody nose” strategy carried extreme risks. Moreover, without congressional authorization a preventative or preemptive U.S. military strike would lack either a Constitutional basis or legal authority.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are as high as they have ever been, and the Olympics are fast approaching. While we must always be ready to respond with decisive action to a North Korean provocation, it would be extremely irresponsible to instigate military conflict prior to exhausting every diplomatic option.
We request your immediate attention to ensure the United States has in place its highest-ranking diplomat to serve as Ambassador to South Korea. We urge you to nominate a qualified individual for this critical position as soon as possible.
Victor Cha: Giving North Korea a ‘bloody nose’ carries a huge risk to Americans
Victor Cha January 30
Victor Cha is a professor at Georgetown University and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
North Korea, if not stopped, will build an arsenal with multiple nuclear missiles meant to threaten the U.S. homeland and blackmail us into abandoning our allies in Asia. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will sell these weapons to state and nonstate actors, and he will inspire other rogue actors who want to undermine the U.S.-backed postwar order. These are real and unprecedented threats. But the answer is not, as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike. Instead, there is a forceful military option available that can address the threat without escalating into a war that would likely kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans.
When I was under consideration for a position in this administration, I shared some of these views.
Japan’s capital practiced its first North Korean missile evacuation drill on Jan. 22. Hundreds of people participated in the drill. (Reuters)
Some may argue that U.S. casualties and even a wider war on the Korean Peninsula are risks worth taking, given what is at stake. But a strike (even a large one) would only delay North Korea’s missile-building and nuclear programs, which are buried in deep, unknown places impenetrable to bunker-busting bombs. A strike also would not stem the threat of proliferation but rather exacerbate it, turning what might be a North Korean moneymaking endeavor into a vengeful effort intended to equip other bad actors against us.
I empathize with the hope, espoused by some Trump officials, that a military strike would shock Pyongyang into appreciating U.S. strength, after years of inaction, and force the regime to the denuclearization negotiating table. I also hope that if North Korea did retaliate militarily, the United States could control the escalation ladder to minimize collateral damage and prevent a collapse of financial markets. In either event, the rationale is that a strike that demonstrates U.S. resolve to pursue “all options” is necessary to give the mercurial Kim a “bloody nose.” Otherwise he will remain undeterred in his nuclear ambitions.
Yet, there is a point at which hope must give in to logic. If we believe that Kim is undeterrable without such a strike, how can we also believe that a strike will deter him from responding in kind? And if Kim is unpredictable, impulsive and bordering on irrational, how can we control the escalation ladder, which is premised on an adversary’s rational understanding of signals and deterrence?
Some have argued the risks are still worth taking because it’s better that people die “over there” than “over here.” On any given day, there are 230,000 Americans in South Korea and 90,000 or so in Japan. Given that an evacuation of so many citizens would be virtually impossible under a rain of North Korean artillery and missiles (potentially laced with biochemical weapons), these Americans would most likely have to hunker down until the war was over.
While our population in Japan might be protected by U.S. missile defenses, the U.S. population in South Korea, let alone millions of South Koreans, has no similar active defenses against a barrage of North Korean artillery (aside from counterfire artillery). To be clear: The president would be putting at risk an American population the size of a medium-size U.S. city — Pittsburgh, say, or Cincinnati — on the assumption that a crazy and undeterrable dictator will be rationally cowed by a demonstration of U.S. kinetic power.
An alternative coercive strategy involves enhanced and sustained U.S., regional and global pressure on Pyongyang to denuclearize. This strategy is likely to deliver the same potential benefits as a limited strike, along with other advantages, without the self-destructive costs. There are four elements to this coercive strategy.
First, the Trump administration must continue to strengthen the coalition of U.N. member states it has mustered in its thus far highly successful sanctions campaign. and offers lessons for the Trump era
(Video: Erin Patrick O'Connor, Daron Taylor, Monica Hesse, Thomas LeGro/Photo: Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)
Second, the United States must significantly up-gun its alliances with Japan and South Korea with integrated missile defense, intelligence-sharing and anti-submarine warfare and strike capabilities to convey to North Korea that an attack on one is an attack on all.
Third, the United States must build a maritime coalition around North Korea involving rings of South Korean, Japanese and broader U.S. assets to intercept any nuclear missiles or technologies leaving the country. China and Russia should be prepared to face the consequences if they allow North Korean proliferation across their borders.
Lastly, the United States must continue to prepare military options. Force will be necessary to deal with North Korea if it attacks first, but not through a preventive strike that could start a nuclear war.
In the land of lousy options, no strategy is perfect, but some are better than others. This strategy gets us out of crisis-management mode. It constitutes decisive action, not previously attempted, by President Trump. And it demonstrates resolve to other bad actors that threats to the United States will be countered. Such a strategy would assuredly deplete Pyongyang’s hard currency, deter it from rash action, strengthen our alliances in Asia for the next generation and increase the costs to those who continue to subsidize Pyongyang.
A sustained and long-term competitive strategy such as this plays to U.S. strengths, exploits our adversary’s weaknesses and does not risk hundreds of thousands of American lives.