- - Wednesday, August 30, 2017

This statement was made on July 5, 2017, in response to a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test that was conducted on July 4, America’s Independence Day holiday.

North Korea’s latest successful intercontinental ballistic missile test further demonstrates the extremely dangerous and growing threat that North Korea poses to Hawaii, Alaska and the mainland United States. For the past 15 years, our leaders have let the people of Hawaii and our country down, allowing the situation in North Korea to worsen to this point of crisis where we are left with nothing but bad options. We must ensure we are able to defend against North Korea’s threat with cutting-edge missile defense technologies, but this is not enough. We must pursue serious diplomatic efforts to de-escalate and ultimately denuclearize North Korea. However, U.S. leaders need to understand that Kim Jong-un maintains a tight grip on North Korea’s nuclear weapons as a deterrent against regime change. The Trump administration would be far more credible in finding a diplomatic solution with North Korea if we weren’t currently waging a regime change war in Syria and contemplating a regime change war in Iran.

The North Korean regime witnessed the regime change wars the U.S. led in Libya and Iraq and what we’re now doing in Syria, and fear they will become like Gadhafi who, after giving up his nuclear weapons program, was deposed by the United States.

As long as the U.S. is waging regime change wars, we are far less likely to reach a diplomatic solution in North Korea because they have no reason to believe our promises. In fact, we are far more likely to see nuclear proliferation by countries like North Korea who see nuclear weapons as their only deterrent against regime change.

Serious diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula will require an end to our regime change war in Syria and a public statement that the U.S. will not engage in regime change wars and nation-building overseas, including in Iran and North Korea. We should focus our limited resources on rebuilding our own country and seriously commit ourselves to de-escalating this dangerous stand-off with North Korea and negotiate a peaceful diplomatic solution.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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