During his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, Donald Trump pledged the United States would continue its “campaign of maximum pressure” against North Korea. Meanwhile, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece written by the man who was, until recently, set to become the U.S. ambassador to South Korea.
Victor Cha, a professor at Georgetown University and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, had reportedly passed all U.S. security checks, and South Korea had signed off on him.
It was expected — and for the government in Seoul, hoped — that Trump would soon formally nominate Cha for Senate approval. But over the weekend, it was reported that the White house informed Cha he was no longer being considered for the post.
Sources say the move was motivated by Cha’s disagreement with the Trump administration’s policy on North Korea. In particular, these sources say, the would-be ambassador took issue with the White House considering a preemptive strike against the Hermit Kingdom.
Writing for the Washington Post on Tuesday, Cha stated that the answer to the North Korean question “is not, as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike.”
Rather, Cha wrote, there are options available to address the threat “without escalating into a war that would likely kill tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Americans.”
Cha, who previously served in the administration of George W. Bush, wrote that he expressed his concerns over North Korea policy while he was being considered for the Seoul ambassadorship.