Victor Cha has been mentioned as ambassador to South Korea. He is the chair of the Korea program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is director of Asian studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He served as Asia director at the NSC under George W. Bush and participated in the Six-Party talks with North Korea as the deputy head of the U.S. delegation. But today it was announced that the administration no longer wants his services.
Cha is on the hawkish side toward North Korea. But apparently not hawkish enough for Donald Trump or someone on his staff. Cha believes that tearing up the South Korea trade agreement is a bad idea, and that attacking North Korea probably worse.
His appointment had gone as far as the administration asking South Korea for its agreement. This is a standard step in appointing ambassadors, and withdrawing the name afterwards is extremely bad form. As South Koreans woke up, they learned of the move, and they are not happy.
This story is causing shock-waves in South Korea this morning. Victor Cha is well known there and people were reassured he was being sent. Plus: South Koreans also have, er, misgivings about bloody nose/strikes on North Korea https://t.co/5uNMNomOKb
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) January 30, 2018
The administration has handled the rest of the interaction with their usual grace and charm.
Seems to me that Victor Cha did exactly what a professional diplomat w/ deep country/regional expertise should have done in this situation – he drew on his knowledge & experience, privately raised questions and expressed disagreement w/ a flawed (catastrophic) policy direction.
— Suzanne DiMaggio (@suzannedimaggio) January 30, 2018
Cha was asked by officials whether he was prepared to help manage the evacuation of American citizens from South Korea..The two people said Mr Cha had expressed his reservations about any kind of military strike. https://t.co/oP9hRSpEZ5
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) January 30, 2018
I’ve been engaged in a continuing Twitter discussion among national security people about whether Trump has been bluffing about a strike on North Korea. What’s coming out today suggests that he is not. A strike would be insanity, of course, because North Korea would respond to even a limited strike by destroying Seoul with its conventional artillery. It’s not clear whether they have usable nuclear weapons, but they might go for those if they have them.
A rumor is circulating that North Korea has a doomsday machine, but I think that would be in terms of planning rather than hardware. Something like “If Kim Jong Un is taken out, let it all fly.”
And with those happy thoughts, open thread!