Rear Admiral Michael Dumont conveyed the opinion on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a letter to Congressman Ted Lieu. Lieu had initiated the correspondence with questions about the seriousness of a potential conflict.
“The only way to ‘locate and destroy – with complete certainty – all components of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs’ is through a ground invasion,” Mr. Dumont advised.
The timing of the report, which coincided with Donald Trump’s tour of Asia (including his up and coming visit to North Korea’s only real ally, China) is somewhat suspicious but ultimately unsurprising. Such a damning conclusion would undoubtedly help exert pressure on both North Korea’s foes and allies alike while Trump is on a tour to meet the major players in the region.
However, whatever the impact the opinion was supposed to have in shaping a pro-war narrative against the isolated nation has almost completely backfired in light of Mr. Lieu’s response.
Though the conclusion of the assessment more or less attempts to convey that the only way to disarm North Korea is through a full-on military confrontation, Mr. Lieu understood the assessment and the conclusion somewhat differently.
In a statement with 16 other military veterans turned congressmen, Mr. Lieu stated:
“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.”
The statement also said:
“Their assessment underscores what we’ve known all along: there are no good military options for North Korea.”
As the lawmakers’ statement confirms, based on the assessment’s findings, a war with North Korea would have deadly ramifications far beyond that of the North Korean people.
“It [an invasion] 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.”
Not too long ago, Donald Trump famously said that if forced to defend the US or its allies, he would “have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.“
“The president needs to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put American troops further at risk,” Lieu’s joint statement said.
That being said, Rear Admiral Dumont opened his letter to Mr. Lieu with the indication that his team supported economic and diplomatic solutions over any military action, further discrediting Donald Trump’s hawkish approach to the conflict.
This weekend, Donald Trump said he would be open to sitting down to talk to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, but that right now it was “far too early” for such a consultation.