As Trump begins his second year in office, the U.S. still doesn’t have an ambassador to South Korea. Now the expected nominee for the position is out because he objected to the reckless and irresponsible ideas circulating in the White House:
The White House’s original choice for U.S. ambassador to South Korea is no longer expected to be nominated after he privately expressed disagreement in late December with the Trump administration’s North Korea policy, according to people familiar with the matter.
Victor D. Cha, an academic who served in the George W. Bush administration, raised his concerns with National Security Council officials over their consideration of a limited strike on the North aimed at sending a message without sparking a wider war — a risky concept known as a “bloody nose” strategy.
It is worrisome that the Trump administration keeps trying to make North Korea policy without having an ambassador in Seoul to coordinate closely with the South Korean government, but it is even worse that one of the main reasons Cha won’t be nominated is that he wasn’t on board with an insane proposal to start a war. That is another piece of evidence that supports two very disturbing conclusions about this administration: Trump and his advisers really are seriously contemplating a “bloody nose” attack on North Korea with all of the disastrous consequences that would likely have, and they have no interest in hearing from people with relevant expertise that counsel caution.
This is unfortunately consistent with the administration’s overall approach to foreign policy. The president is inclined to use force and threatening to use force, he repeatedly dismisses the value of diplomacy and diplomats, and he has an obvious disdain for people with expertise and experience. The ambassador position in Seoul remains vacant because it isn’t a priority for this administration, and anyone who would be acceptable to South Korea isn’t going to sign off on the terrible ideas emanating from the White House. There is a real danger that the U.S. could plunge into an unnecessary war against North Korea in the coming year, and now one of the people who could have counseled against that disastrous course of action won’t be in a position to do so.