November 05, 2017

Duckworth, 15 Veterans in Congress Issue Bipartisan Joint Statement on Dangers of War with North Korea


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator and combat Veteran Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Representatives Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and 13 other Veterans who serve in Congress over the weekend in issuing a bipartisan joint statement outlining the dangers of a war with North Korea ahead of the President's visit to South Korea. Duckworth wrote to President Trump last week asking him to provide the American people with an analysis of how many American servicemembers and innocent civilians would lose their lives if we went to war with North Korea and she is an original co-sponsor of Senator Chris Murphy's (D-CT) legislation to prevent President Trump from launching a preemptive strike against North Korea without authorization from Congress unless there is an imminent threat.

Rear Adm. Michael Dumont, the Vice Director of the Joint Staff, said over the weekend that it would take a ground invasion to ensure that North Korea's nuclear weapons program was destroyed with complete certainty and the Congressional Research Service has estimated 300,000 people could die in the first few days if hostilities broke out.

In the joint statement, the Members of Congress write:

"The Joint Chiefs of Staff has now confirmed that the only way to destroy North Korea's nuclear arsenal is through a ground invasion. That is deeply disturbing and could result in hundreds of thousands, or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting.

"As Veterans, we have defended this nation in war and we remain committed to this country's security. We also understand that entering into a protracted and massive ground war with North Korea would be disastrous for U.S. troops and our allies. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, it appears, agree. Their assessment underscores what we've known all along: There are no good military options for North Korea. Invading North Korea could result in a catastrophic loss of lives for U.S. troops and U.S. civilians in South Korea. It could kill millions of South Koreans and put troops and civilians in Guam and Japan at risk. The Joint Chiefs said they have no reason to believe North Korea would resist using their stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. It is our intent to have a full public accounting of the potential cost of war, so the American people understand the commitment we would be making as a nation if we were to pursue military action.

"A nonpartisan report by the Congressional Research Service indicates conflict on the peninsula could impact as many as 25 million people on either side of the border, including more than 100,000 U.S. citizens. We must pursue every other option before even considering a massive ground invasion. The Administration has also failed to articulate any plans to prevent the military conflict from expanding beyond the Korean Peninsula and to manage what happens after the conflict is over. We're still engaged in the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan with no end in sight.

"With that in mind, the thought of sending troops into harm's way and expending resources on another potentially unwinnable war is chilling. The President needs to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put American troops further at risk.

"The Joint Chiefs' assessment and the CRS report clearly demonstrate that every diplomatic and economic option must be exhausted before military options are considered. If President Trump does intend to pursue a military option against North Korea, he must come to Congress as required by our Constitution. The stakes are too high and the potential outcome too grave for President Trump to violate his constitutional duty to come to Congress to authorize and oversee use of force."

In addition to Duckworth, Lieu and Gallego, the joint statement was signed by Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Mariana Islands), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).