Trump called for Seoul evacuation at height of North Korea tensions, new book says

President’s diktat was ignored by his top officials, Peter Bergen writes in Trump and his Generals: The Cost of Chaos

By Julian Borger

Donald Trump called for the population of Seoul to be moved during an Oval Office meeting when tensions between the US and North Korea were at their height, according to a new book about the president’s relations with the US military.

In Trump and his Generals: The Cost of Chaos, the national security and counter-terrorism expert Peter Bergen also gives new details of Trump’s demands that the families of US service members in South Korea be evacuated, which the North Korean regime would have interpreted as a clear move towards war. In both cases, Trump’s impetuous diktats were ignored by his top officials.

Bergen’s book, the latest in a string of accounts of the president’s erratic leadership on national security issues, is being published on Tuesday at a time when friction between Washington and Pyongyang is once more on the rise, after more than 18 months of detente and summitry. The North Korean leadership is threatening a resumption of missile tests, and a war of words between Trump and Kim Jong-un is simmering once more.

Trump has resurrected his nickname for Kim, “Rocket Man”. North Korea conducted a missile engine test at a site that it had previously mothballed, and on Monday a senior regime official called the US president a “heedless and erratic old man”.

The level of mutual hostility is still some way off from the worst period in 2017 when a conflict looked a real possibility.

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