Following a stunning false alert that Hawaii was the target of a ballistic missile threat, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Sunday the incident underscore the need for President Donald Trump to directly negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the rogue nation’s nuclear weapons.
"Absolutely and immediately. This is something that I’ve been calling for for a long time," Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said Sunday on ABC’s "This Week."
"The people of Hawaii are paying the price now for decades of failed leadership in this country, of failure to directly negotiate, to prevent us from getting to this point where we’re dealing with this threat today, setting unrealistic preconditions," she added.
An emergency alert sent to people in the state Saturday warned: "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL." The alert was sent in error, but it took a whole 38 minutes correct the message as a false alarm.
"You can only imagine … the panic, the terror … the chaos and confusion that ensued when over a million people in Hawaii plus many visitors who were visiting Hawaii got that alert on their cell phones now understanding that they literally just have minutes," she said.
Gabbard called the incident "an epic failure of leadership."
"Well that’s what we’re still trying to get to the bottom of," Gabbard said. "It was unacceptable that this went out in the first place, but the fact that it took so long for them to put out that second message, to calm people, to allay their fears that this was a mistake, a false alarm is something that has to be fixed, corrected with people held accountable."
Gabbard, a military veteran and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, also called for stepped-up ballistic missile defenses to guard against the threat of North Korean missiles.
A critic of U.S. military intervention in nations like Libya and Syria, among others, Gabbard added that policymakers need to "understand why Kim Jong-un is saying he’s not going to give up his nuclear weapons." It’s a reaction, she argued, to U.S. overseas intervention.
"Our country’s history of regime change war has led countries like North Korea to develop and hold onto these nuclear weapons because they see it as their only deterrent against regime change. And this is what’s important for President Trump to recognize," she said.
"It is critical that we end our policy, the regime change wars, to provide that credible guarantee that the United States is not going to go in and topple the North Korean regime so that these conversations can begin toward denuclearization."