Open Letter to Congress Regarding a Non-Military Solution with North Korea

Progressive Caucus Officers of the California Democratic Party Publish Open Letter to Congress: Demand President Trump allow Secretary of State Tillerson to Engage in Dialogue with North Korea to Reach a Non-Military Solution


Dear Members of Congress:

We, Officers of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, join with California’s congressional representatives Barbara Lee Judy Chu, Ro Khanna, Jackie Speier, Karen Bass, Ted Lieu, Salud O. Carbajal, Nanette Barragan and over 60 members of Congress who, in a letter (8/10/17) to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for direct talks with North Korean leaders to avoid a military confrontation between two nuclear armed nations that might instead explore a negotiated settlement. On October 1, the New York Times reported:

“A day after Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said he was reaching out to Pyongyang in hopes of starting a new dialogue, Mr. Trump belittled the idea and left the impression that he was focused mainly on military options. Mr. Trump was privately described by advisers as furious at Mr. Tillerson for contradicting the president’s public position that now is not the time for talks.”

A negotiated settlement between the US and North Korea could result in a peace agreement freezing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for the US and South Korea halting its 75-thousand troop military exercises on the border of North Korea.

Although North Korea’s leaders offered to suspend nuclear tests in return for a suspension of the joint military exercises, the US government continues to reject such offers while expanding its own nuclear weapons program.

Furthermore, Officers of the Progressive Caucus urge members of Congress to join us in denouncing President Trump’s threat to “totally destroy North Korea (9/19/17), an incendiary statement he made before the United Nations, an international body founded to prevent another world war, and a verbal attack that followed Trump’s nuclear threat that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” (8/8/17) if North Korea continues to test its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Trump’s reckless threat of nuclear war violates the United Nations Charter, a treaty that is part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution and constitutes an abuse of power, setting the stage for a catastrophic third world war — if not a nuclear holocaust — involving other superpowers, such as China and Russia. A showdown between nuclear powers could turn the continent of Asia into a radioactive graveyard, with thousands if not millions of deaths throughout the continent, including South Korea, Japan and Guam, all home to US military installations.

Caucus officers ask congressional representatives to echo former President Jimmy Carter’s call (8/10/17) to both the US and North Korea to tone down the war-like rhetoric to avoid any sort of nuclear confrontation with the isolationist North Korean regime — now testing a hydrogen bomb — and make a “commitment to peace.” Carter noted that during his three visits to North Korea from 1994–2011, he met ordinary North Koreans who wanted a peace treaty with the US and an end to the West’s debilitating economic sanctions “but were convinced that we planned a preemptive military strike against their country.”

Trump’s diabolical threats — met with equally diabolic threats from North Korea — may strike some as mere bluster from a serial tweeter who knows nothing about governance or international cooperation, but Officers of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party urge all representatives in Congress to take these threats and counter-threats seriously in order to pull the world back from the brink of nuclear annihilation.

We ask representatives in the House and Senate to join the over 60 fellow Congress members and our Caucus in denouncing Trump’s threat to destroy North Korea, to bar him from usurping Congress’s authority to declare war, and to push for a peace agreement. In rejecting Trump’s statement that Tillerson is “wasting his time” in endeavoring to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis, we implore our elected leaders to go further and be proactive in supporting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s apparent willingness to engage in direct negotiations with North Korea, which has put him in a difficult situation with Trump.

There is no military solution to the conflict between the United States and North Korea, a country the US napalmed and carpet bombed in the 1950s, killing millions of North Koreans.

The only answer is direct diplomacy.

The only answer is a peace agreement.

Please lead us away from war and toward a negotiated settlement.


Progressive Caucus (CDP) Officers:

  • Chair: Karen Bernal;
  • Parliamentarian: Katrina Bergstrom;
  • Treasurer: Marlin Medrano;
  • Secretary: Marcy Winograd;
  • Interim Media Officer: Cari Templeton;
  • Vice Chair Northern California: Thomas Tellner;
  • Vice Chair Central California: Zachary Denny;
  • Vice Chair Southern California: Susie Shannon;
  • Officers at Large: Phillip Kim & Liz Lavertu


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