Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump are planning to meet in person very soon. This is a big deal, and could help lift the increasing threat of war - if it’s closely managed by experts as part of a sustained strategy of diplomacy.
Let’s remember - the risk of war with North Korea is a Trump-made crisis. The administration has been beating the drums for war, most notably 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.” Trump has tweeted increasingly absurd threats, including bragging about his “nuclear button” and implicitly threatening nuclear war.
But it’s never too late to avoid deadly war and try real diplomacy. Congress must keep pressuring the administration to make these talks successful, and to avoid military conflict that would place us all at risk.
The stakes are high—and scary. In recent months, North Korea 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
TELL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: SPEAK OUT NOW
Your Members of Congress must immediately make a bold, public statement making clear that they will not support any congressional authority for Trump to use military force with North Korea, and instead want to see our State Department fully funded and equipped to engage in diplomacy.
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. Additionally, they must urge adequate support for our diplomats to successfully navigate talks with North Korea.
If your MoCs have already spoken out, urge them to take another crucial step by co-sponsoring legislation that would block Trump from launching an unauthorized war with North Korea.
Your MoCs should co-sponsor any (or all!) of the important bills that have been introduced to restrict Trump’s ability to lead us into a devastating war:
- The No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act of 2017. This legislation is led by Representative Massie in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4140) and Senator Markey in the Senate (S. 2016). This bill seeks to prevent Trump from launching any sort of strike at North Korea without congressional authorization.
- Additionally, senators can co-sponsor the Preventing Preemptive War with North Korea Act of 2017. This legislation, (S. 2047), is led by Sen. Chris Murphy and de-funds military action in North Korea absent an imminent threat or congressional authorization.
- Lastly, MoCs can co-sponsor the Restricting First Use Act of 2017. This bill prevents a first-use nuclear strike without an explicit declaration of war by Congress. This is led by Senator Markey (S. 200) and Representative Lieu (H.R. 669).
Sample Call Dialogue
Caller: Hi! My name is [name] and I’m a constituent from [part of state]. I’m calling because I’m glad that the U.S. and North Korea are holding talks, and want to see them succeed so we don’t get into another deadly war. I want to know how Representative/Senator [name] is urging sustained diplomacy to counter Trump’s previous warmongering rhetoric.
Staffer: Thank you for raising your concerns, [MoC] is monitoring this situation closely.
Caller: Will [he/she] be making a strong public statement committing not to authorize force against North Korea, and instead urging resources and support for sustained diplomacy?
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 could derail important talks, and urging sustained diplomatic solutions.
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 [legislation]. This legislation would restrict Trump’s ability to lead us into an unauthorized and devastating war with North Korea. 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 are relying on strong diplomacy so Trump doesn’t tweet us into nuclear war.