House Democratic Caucus National Security Task Force Statement on President’s Upcoming Trip to Asia
The co-chairs of the Democratic Caucus’ National Security Task Force—Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California—issued the following statement on the President’s upcoming trip to Asia, which will take place from November 3rd to November 14th and will include stops in Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii.
“As co-chairs of the House Democratic Caucus’ National Security Task Force, we hope the President will use his forthcoming trip to Asia to demonstrate the United States’ ironclad commitment to security, stability and economic prosperity in the region, sending a clear signal of steadfastness to ally and adversary alike. We note that, nine months into office, the President has yet to nominate individuals to key positions with responsibility for U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific, including the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the U.S. ambassador to South Korea. We urge the President to swiftly address this self-inflicted wound.
“We suspect that the subject of North Korea will dominate the agenda, given the stakes involved. We recently led a letter—signed by 65 of our colleagues—calling on the President to adopt a ‘strong, strategic and steady’ policy toward Pyongyang. On the eve of the President’s trip to the region, we reiterate our appeal. While we recognize that North Korea’s dangerous actions are the root cause of current tensions, we also believe that the President’s reckless rhetoric and muddled messages to allies have made the problem worse. We urge the President to chart a careful course that avoids capitulation to, or catastrophic war with, North Korea. A successful strategy should be built on five pillars: increasing economic pressure on North Korea through the imposition and vigorous enforcement of sanctions; enhancing crisis-management channels with North Korea to clarify intentions and minimize the risk of miscalculation; strengthening, rather than subverting, our alliances with South Korea, Japan and other regional partners; filling key vacancies at the Department of State and the Department of Defense; and continuing to make clear to North Korea that an attack on the U.S. or our allies will produce unacceptable consequences for the North Korean regime.
“This trip provides an opportunity for the President to repair any damage to our alliance with South Korea caused by the President’s bellicose statements that do not sufficiently recognize the catastrophic risks that military conflict would pose for South Korea, by his suggestion that the U.S. might withdraw from the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and by his tweet accusing South Korea’s president of ‘appeasement.’ We hope the President will make an unequivocal expression of solidarity with South Korea, with whom the United States shares a bond built in battle and shaped by shared sacrifice.
“Finally, we are concerned by reports that the President intends to skip the East Asia Summit, an annual meeting of heads of state. We believe the President’s participation in the Summit would send a valuable signal regarding the United States’ continued commitment to, and leadership in, this critically-important region. The failure of the President to attend risks unravelling the goodwill that his trip is designed to build, and leaves the door open for our competitors in the region to build consensus on issues during the Summit that may run counter to U.S. interests.”
To read the Task Force-led letter to the President regarding North Korea, dated October 3, 2017, click here: