Tags: Donald Trump | North Korea | Trump Administration | ed markey | nuclear | weapons | missiles

Markey: Trump Admin 'Playing Good Cop, Bad Cop' With NKorea

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Thursday, 10 August 2017 10:28 AM

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., accused members of the Trump administration Thursday of playing "good cop, bad cop" along with the president over North Korea, but instead they are coming off "more like the Keystone cops."

"There's no coherent strategy," Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," while calling on President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis and others to "stop the reckless, dangerous, scary language they are using."

Trump lead with the threats of "fire and fury" against North Korea, but Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson toned down the rhetoric, by calling for dialogue and possibly a short-term deal.

Mattis then said if North Korea does not stop its activities, that could lead to the destruction of its people and a regime change, Markey noted.

However, regime change is what North Koreans are "most concerned about," said Markey, and such threats will "most likely lead to them continuing to test nuclear weapons and ICBM capacity."

The conflicting rhetoric shows Tillerson and Mattis are playing a "good cop, bad cop" strategy, but instead, Markey said, the real strategy should include "urgent diplomacy" and "ever-tightening sanctions around North Korea, much tougher even than the United Nations passed."

Markey said he has joined in introducing legislation cutting off any trade coming into North Korea at all, and for sanctions for countries, including China, that engage in trade with North Korea.

"We need to have negotiations, sanctions, conversations with China, which is where 80 percent of North Korea trade emanates, and begin it right now, rather than seeing this very dangerous escalating language," the senator said. "[It] could, through miscalculation, actually lead to a conventional showdown that could escalate into a nuclear event that would absolutely be catastrophic."

However, Markey admitted he does not know how a measured diplomatic solution could happen, and he indicated Trump's key advisers, as current and retired military leaders, could be a concern.

"Back in 1962, in the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was the generals who were saying that we should move to a military response," Markey said. "It was a cool, calm, detached President [John F.] Kennedy who kept stepping back to analyze the options to ensure that we did not, in fact, escalate into a nuclear confrontation."

But with the Trump administration, it is "just the opposite."

"We're hoping that the generals around the president control the president, and even with that Gen. Mattis is talking about the destruction of the people of North Korea totally," Markey said. "It's a very dangerous situation."

Markey said he is also concerned the White House's language is leaving the impression nuclear weapons can be used, even if the United States itself does not come under a nuclear strike, and "that is completely unacceptable."

The legislation Markey and Colorado Democratic Sen. Ted Lieu have introduced, and which is supported by others in the House and Senate, says if the United States is in a conventional weapon conflict with another country, nuclear weapons are not permitted to be used without congressional authorization.

"In the event of a nuclear attack against the United States, it would be different," he said, "but in a conventional setting, they would not be permitted."

"It would be a strange world that we would enter that a president would be allowed to use nuclear weapons, unleashing a fury of power that has never been seen in the history of the planet, in response to threats from another country," Markey said.

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Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., accused members of the Trump administration Thursday of playing "good cop, bad cop" along with the president over North Korea, but instead they are coming off "more like the Keystone cops."
ed markey, nuclear, weapons, missiles
Thursday, 10 August 2017 10:28 AM
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