WASHINGTON — Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement Jan. 31 after Victor Cha confirmed that he is no longer being considered to serve as the ambassador to South Korea:
“One year into his presidency, Donald Trump has yet to nominate an ambassador to South Korea — one of our closest allies in a volatile region of the world.
“That the White House is no longer considering Victor Cha’s nomination over his legitimate concerns about pre-emptive military strikes against North Korea is deeply troubling and undermines ongoing diplomatic efforts to deescalate tensions.
“Donald Trump’s aversion to differences of opinion is pathological and does not serve our national interest or the interests of our allies in the region.”
In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Jan. 30, Hirono questioned experts on the Korean Peninsula on the importance of filling the ambassadorship. Last year, Hirono wrote to Trump to urge him to fill the ambassadorship, and several other positions that are critical to finding a diplomatic solution to deescalate tensions with North Korea.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) released a statement when the Trump Administration withdrew its nomination of Cha after he expressed opposition to the use of a “bloody nose” narrow military strike against North Korea. Cha has since written an op-ed warning the administration not to launch a preventive military strike against North Korea since it could needlessly put countless lives at risk and quickly escalate into nuclear war.
“I’ve been ringing the alarm bells about Donald Trump recklessly pushing us towards war with North Korea for months, and this is yet another reason for every American to worry,” said Duckworth. “We have reached a point where opposing war as the first resort seems to be a disqualifier from serving as ambassador — a role literally intended to prevent war — in one of the most tenuous regions of the world. This is a deeply troubling development and a setback for diplomacy.
“Now more than ever, our diplomatic mission in South Korea needs permanent leadership in order to advance our nation’s interests. The Trump Administration’s rejection of Mr. Cha’s warning that a pre-emptive military strike risks nuclear war and their failure to nominate an ambassador to South Korea after more than a year in office sends a terrible message to our allies and endangers the lives of State Department officials and servicemembers currently serving in Korea.”
Duckworth, who lost her legs while serving in the Iraq War, recently delivered a keynote address at Georgetown University on the dangers of rushing to war with North Korea after returning from an official trip to the Korean Peninsula, where she met with military leaders, diplomats and toured the DMZ. Citing the lack of public debate before she deployed to Iraq, Duckworth has also called on Trump to share declassified estimates of how many American servicemembers and innocent civilians would lose their lives if we went to war with North Korea.
She helped introduce legislation with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to prevent Trump from launching a pre-emptive strike against north Korea without authorization from Congress unless there is an imminent threat. The U.S. has roughly 80,000 servicemembers stationed in South Korea and Japan.