Foreign Policy

Have Your Members of Congress Spoken Out Against Trump’s Warmongering on North Korea?


The risk of war with North Korea is a Trump-made crisis. The administration has been beating the drums for war, most recently in Trump’s first address in front of the United Nations General Assembly. He threatened to “destroy” the rogue nation, and has since tweeted that they “won’t be around much longer.” Building upon the President’s dangerous tweets and promises of “fire and fury,” Defense Secretary Mattis has warned of a “massive military response,” and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared that North Korea is “begging for war.”

The stakes are high—and scary. North Korea’s Foreign Minister has said that these comments amount to a “declaration of war” and has threatened to shoot down U.S. bombers. This comes after the country tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb, prompting an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council. The rogue nation claimed its new weapon was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile, making rapid progress towards its ability to strike the United States.

We can’t let fear lead us into catastrophic war. Given the extremely volatile nature of the situation, we need measured leadership that leverages every diplomatic tool to de-escalate tensions—not reckless tweets that fuel the flames.

Your Members of Congress have a crucial role to play in pulling us back from the brink of war. Have they spoken out?

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

  1. The Constitution is clear that only Congress can authorize war—not the President. Absent an immediate, imminent threat of attack, Trump has to come to Congress if he wants to use military force in North Korea. Period.
  2. While these weapons tests are highly concerning, this does not have to become a crisis. The Kim regime values self-preservation above all else, and the United States dwarfs North Korea in size, resources, and power. It would not serve North Korea’s interests to provoke war with the United States, so we have an opportunity to avoid military conflict by not buying into North Korea’s bluster.
  3. If there were indeed a war with North Korea, it would be catastrophic. The lives of Americans serving or living in the region would be in danger, in addition to the densely-packed local civilian populations in both North and South Korea. A new war would threaten key international relationships, cost a lot of money, and would almost certainly fail to solve the problem. North Korea’s dangerous weapons could fall into other hands, and the war could escalate toward unthinkable destruction. This is simply not an option.
  4. Smart, genuine, and measured diplomacy can resolve these tensions and allow us to avoid a reckless war that could escalate to a nuclear showdown. North Korea itself has not fully ruled out diplomatic options, nor has the Trump administration exhausted every peaceful tool in their toolbox. Even Defense Secretary Mattis said, “we’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”
  5. Polling show that Americans want to see a diplomatic resolution to the situation with North Korea, and do not want a new war. Congress has a major platform from which to make clear that the Trump administration is out of touch with the American people, and to reassure us that Congress will do everything in its power to rein in the administration’s dangerous warmongering.

TELL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: SPEAK OUT NOW

Your Members of Congress must immediately make a bold, public statement denouncing the Trump administration’s reckless rhetoric and making clear that they will not support any congressional authority for Trump to use military force with North Korea.

Find out if your elected officials have already spoken out, and if not, urgently insist that they do so as soon as possible. It is crucial at this moment for both Republicans and Democrats to boldly assert their constitutional responsibility to manage war—and to unequivocally deny this commander-in-chief any authority to take us into a new war with North Korea.

If your MoCs have already spoken out, urge them to take another crucial step by co-sponsoring the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation is led by Senator Markey and Representative Lieu, and would make explicit that Trump cannot launch a nuclear strike absent a declaration of war from Congress. Tell your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 669 and your Senator S. 200—we can’t let this President tweet us into nuclear war. 

Sample Call Dialogue

Caller: Hi! My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [part of state]. I’m calling because I’m very concerned about the current situation with North Korea, and I want to know how Representative/Senator [name] is responding to Trump’s dangerous warmongering rhetoric.

Staffer: Thank you for raising your concerns, [MoC] is also very concerned, and monitoring this situation closely.

Caller: Will [he/she] be making a strong public statement denouncing Trump’s rhetoric and urging diplomacy and de-escalation?

Staffer: [MoC] is currently watching the situation and determining the best way to weigh in. I can certainly convey your concerns.

Caller: Yes, please do, I strongly urge [him/her] to clearly state on the record that Trump’s rhetoric is making the situation worse, and urging diplomatic solutions to this crisis.

Staffer: I’ll convey that to the [MoC].

Caller: Great, I’ll be watching for that statement. It’s very important for Congress to weigh in here as the body that is supposed to be determining when and where we go to war. I’d also like [MoC] to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would make explicit that Trump cannot launch a nuclear strike absent a declaration of war from Congress. That bill is [House: H.R. 669 or Senate:  S. 200]. I’ll be checking the co-sponsor list to make sure [MoC] is supporting.

Staffer: We’ll certainly take a look at that. Thanks for sharing your concerns.

Caller: You’re welcome, I’ll be checking back soon on the statement and on the legislation. We can’t let Trump tweet us into nuclear war.