After attending the National Security Council (NSC) meeting on January 19 this year, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed his frustration to his close associates. This was because President Donald Trump, at the meeting, devalued the “significance of the U.S. military presence in South Korea” and asked why the United States is spending resources on the Korean Peninsula.
“We’re doing this (stationed in South Korea) in order to prevent World War III,” answered Mattis. But he later expressed concerns to his close associates. James Mattis is said to have made a self-mocking joke that he cannot get to choose the president he wants to work with. These accounts are all included in the book “Fear: Trump in the White House” by renowned Watergate journalist Bob Woodward. The book is scheduled to be published on September 11.
“Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders,” The Washington Post said of the book. They were deeply shocked by how Trump impulsively deals with diplomatic issues.
The most shocking account of all is President Trump, one month into his presidency, asking Joseph F. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to plan for a preemptive military strike on North Korea. Dunford is said to have been baffled. At the January 19 JSC meeting, President Trump also disregarded a special intelligence operation to detect a North Korean missile in seven seconds, mentioning cost issues.
President Trump also simply regarded the North Korean nuclear issue as emotional battle between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. When President Trump called the North Korean leader “little rocket man,” his aides expressed their concern. Then Trump told them, “This is all about leader versus leader. Man versus man. Me versus Kim.”
The book said President Trump was skeptical about the significance of the U.S. military presence in South Korea in January this year. According to NBC’s report, President Trump was set to order the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula in May ahead of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, but White House Chief of Staff John Kelly talked him out of it. Judging from the controversy surrounding the U.S. plan to deliver a “bloody nose” attack against North Korea earlier this year, the discussion on a preemptive military strike on North Korea seems to have been underway since Trump took office.
President Trump on Tuesday (local time) posted seven tweets about the book, saying what the book says is not true. “The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources,” tweeted Trump, calling the quotes in the book, “made up frauds.” On the other hand, Woodward says he wrote the book after interviewing people who worked for the Trump administration for over hundreds of hours.
Gi-Jae Han firstname.lastname@example.org