In a direct affront to the diplomatic leadership advised by experts and desired by a majority of Americans when it comes to North Korea, President Donald Trump on Wednesday went in the exact opposite direction by declaring "Talking is not the answer!"
The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2017
The veterans advocacy group VoteVets was among the progressive voices condemning Trump's latest statement on simmering tensions with Pyongyang which the president posted on his Twitter account late Wednesday morning.
"Wars are easy to start but they have a way of taking you places you didn't expect," said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Paul Eaton, a senior advisor to the group, in a statement. "Talking is always the answer, until you cannot possibly talk anymore, when the lives of Americans are on the line."
Trump's tweet followed his statement on Tuesday in which he said "all options are on the table" regarding North Korea.
The president did not elaborate on the "extortion money" he claims the U.S. has been paying North Korea. As the New York Times reported, "Over the years, the United States has given money to North Korea for humanitarian assistance. And attempts to establish better relations have included lessening some of the economic sanctions on the North."
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Defense Secretary James Mattis also voiced his disagreement with his own commander-in-chief's aggressive tone, saying that diplomacy must always be an option in international relations.
“We're never out of diplomatic solutions," Mattis told the press at a meeting with the South Korean defense minister. “We continue to work together and the minister and I share responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations, and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss today."
Eaton urged the president to confer with Mattis and other officials who have urged diplomacy, as well as the American people who have voiced disapproval of Trump's handling of North Korean relations.
"What Donald Trump doesn't understand, and what he might never understand, is that this isn't a movie, and this isn't a reality show, where tension and drama are good for ratings," said Eaton. "He would be wise to listen to his Secretary of State, who is preaching direct dialogue, and the American people, who overwhelmingly support direct talks with North Korea, in polling. Donald Trump is out of his league on this issue. He needs to stop tweeting, and let qualified people handle this situation, to defuse it."