IOWA CITY — U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack sees North Korea as a threat to U.S. security, but the 2nd District Democrat doesn’t think the bellicose rhetoric from President Donald Trump is helping matters.
“I’m hearing a lot of concern from people about the rhetoric — the rhetoric on both sides, but principally from the two leaders,” Loebsack said Thursday referring to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
“I just think it’s really unfortunate that he’s using the words he’s using,” Loebsack said after speaking to the Iowa City Rotary Club on Thursday.
Trump, who earlier this week threatened to respond to North Korea aggression with “fire and fury,” said Thursday his language may not have been “tough enough.”
He then went on to say “things will happen to them like they never thought possible” if the Southeast Asian nation launched a military strike against the United States.
North Korea, which has been developing its capacity to arm missiles, responded to Trump’s “fire and fury” statement by threatening to fire missiles over the waters near Guam, a U.S. territory strategically located in the Pacific Ocean and home to an American military base.
Loebsack, a former member of the House Armed Services Committee, called the president’s choice of words “irresponsible.”
“And now it’s been confirmed that he didn’t even talk to his principal national security advisers before he used these words,” he said.
North Korea is a threat to the U.S., Loebsack said, but he called for increased diplomatic efforts rather than more threatening language.
“I think we have to have a smarter policy that is a combination of real diplomacy, active diplomacy, multistate diplomacy bringing in China and others in the region,” Loebsack said.
“And then, obviously, we need to be prepared militarily in the event something terrible should happen,” he said.
He couldn’t say whether Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose statements have been described as “sober and reassuring,” is playing the good cop role to the president’s bad cop rhetoric as the administration deals with North Korea.
“I really don’t know, but I hope that everyone can get on the same page,” Loebsack said.