Monday, April 29, 2013

How militaries learn and adapt: An interview with Major General H. R. McMaster


I think this statement from MG McMaster should be read by every senior leader and every student in a professional military education course:

H. R. McMaster: I think the study of military history has been the most important preparation for every position I’ve had in the last 12 years or so. It’s important to study and understand your responsibilities within any profession, but it’s particularly important for military officers to read, think, discuss, and write about the problem of war and warfare so they can understand not just the changes in the character of warfare but also the continuities. That type of understanding is what helps you adapt. 
I think the American tendency—and I’m sure this is often the case in business as well—is to emphasize change over continuity. We’re so enamored of technological advancements that we fail to think about how to best apply those technologies to what we’re trying to achieve. This can mask some very important continuities in the nature of war and their implications for our responsibilities as officers. 
The study of military history helps identify not only these continuities but also their application to the current and future problems of war and warfare. This type of study helps us make a grounded projection into the future based on an understanding of the past. It helps us reason by historical analogy while also understanding the complexity and uniqueness of historical events and circumstances. This is what Carl von Clausewitz believed: that military theory will serve its purpose when it allows us to take what seems fused and break it down into its constituent elements. 
As one of my favorite military historians, Sir Michael Howard, suggested, you have to study history to get its analytic power in width, in depth, and in context: in width, to see change over time; in depth, by looking at specific campaigns and battles to understand the complex causality of events that created them; and then in the context of politics, policy, and diplomacy. Studying history is invaluable in preparing our officers for their future responsibilities.
V/R
Dave 



When Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster offers a criticism of the Army's counterinsurgency doctrine, you know he's not just riding intellectual fashion. This is a guy who has done well both in conventional warfare (see 73 Easting) and counterinsurgency (see Tell Afar).

In a new publication by McKinsey and Company called McKinsey on Defense, McMaster tells Andrew Erdmann  that "our doctrine is still catching up" with how we need to fight. He explains:
We have the counterinsurgency manual, the stability operations manual, and the security-force assistance manual, but I don't think we have put the politics at the center of those manuals. So, for example, we assume in our doctrine that the challenges associated with developing indigenous security forces are mainly about building capacity, when, in fact, they're about trying to develop institutions that can survive and that will operate in a way that is at least congruent with our interests.

McMaster also says that, "We need leaders who have physical and moral courage on the battlefield, of course, but also the courage to speak their minds and offer respectful and candid feedback to their superiors. Our leaders can't feel compelled to tell their bosses what they want to hear."


Interview
How militaries learn and adapt: An interview with Major General H. R. McMaster
An experienced combat commander and leading expert on training and doctrine assesses recent military history and its implications for the future.

April 2013 | byAndrew Erdmann

Major General Herbert Raymond (H. R.) McMaster is the commander of the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. A facility for military training, doctrine, and leadership development, the center works with forces that specialize in defeating enemies through a combination of fire, maneuver, and combat and then conducting security operations to consolidate those gains. In a December 2012 interview with McKinsey’s Andrew Erdmann, General McMaster talks about how the US Army has evolved, how war itself has—or hasn’t—changed, what we have learned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what the Army must do to prepare the next generation of leaders and soldiers for warfare in the future.

Sidebar

Biography of Major General H. R. McMaster

McKinsey on Government: Your experience in combat has ranged from the last great tank battle of the 20th century—the Battle of 73 Easting in February 1991—to counterinsurgency in Tal Afar, Iraq, to fighting corruption in Afghanistan with Combined Joint Interagency Task Force Shafafiyat from 2010 to 2012. Looking back on nearly 30 years in the military, what has changed, and how have you adapted?

H. R. McMaster: I think the biggest surprise has been the broadening of the range of conflicts we’ve found ourselves in since I first entered the Army in the 1980s. Obviously, there was a lot of instability during the Cold War, but there was also a certain degree of predictability. The primary mission of our armed forces at that time was to deter aggression by the Soviet Union and its allies. Today, that’s no longer the case. We now need a much wider range of capabilities, including the ability to operate in complex conflicts that require the close integration of military, political, and economic-development efforts.

One great feature of the Army is that it gives us the opportunity not only to have very intense formative experiences but also, consistent with the adult-learning model, to reflect on those experiences and prepare for the next level of responsibility. This type of learning is what helps us gain the breadth and depth of knowledge that allows us to adapt to unforeseen challenges and circumstances.

McKinsey on Government: You are a scholar of military history. How has your study of military history influenced your career?

H. R. McMaster: I think the study of military history has been the most important preparation for every position I’ve had in the last 12 years or so. It’s important to study and understand your responsibilities within any profession, but it’s particularly important for military officers to read, think, discuss, and write about the problem of war and warfare so they can understand not just the changes in the character of warfare but also the continuities. That type of understanding is what helps you adapt.

I think the American tendency—and I’m sure this is often the case in business as well—is to emphasize change over continuity. We’re so enamored of technological advancements that we fail to think about how to best apply those technologies to what we’re trying to achieve. This can mask some very important continuities in the nature of war and their implications for our responsibilities as officers.
The study of military history helps identify not only these continuities but also their application to the current and future problems of war and warfare. This type of study helps us make a grounded projection into the future based on an understanding of the past. It helps us reason by historical analogy while also understanding the complexity and uniqueness of historical events and circumstances. This is what Carl von Clausewitz believed: that military theory will serve its purpose when it allows us to take what seems fused and break it down into its constituent elements.

As one of my favorite military historians, Sir Michael Howard, suggested, you have to study history to get its analytic power in width, in depth, and in context: in width, to see change over time; in depth, by looking at specific campaigns and battles to understand the complex causality of events that created them; and then in the context of politics, policy, and diplomacy. Studying history is invaluable in preparing our officers for their future responsibilities.

McKinsey on Government: You mentioned the continuities of war. What are some examples of things that remain unchanged?

H. R. McMaster: First, war is still an extension of politics and policy. I think we saw that both in Iraq and Afghanistan; we initially failed to think through a sustainable political outcome that would be consistent with our vital interests, and it complicated both of those wars.

Second, war is an inherently human endeavor. In the 1990s, everyone was quoting Moore’s law and thought it would revolutionize war. We saw this in some of the language associated with the “revolution in military affairs” and “defense transformation.” We assumed that advances in information, surveillance technology, technical-intelligence collection, automated decision-making tools, and so on were going to make war fast, cheap, efficient, and relatively risk free—that technology would lift the fog of war and make warfare essentially a targeting exercise, in which we gain visibility on enemy organizations and strike those organizations from a safe distance. But that’s not true, of course.

This links closely to another continuity of war—war is not linear, and chance plays a large role.
One other continuity is that war is a contest of wills between determined enemies. We often operate effectively on the physical battleground but not on the psychological battleground. We fail to communicate our resolve. I think, for example, the reason the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001 is largely because every Afghan was convinced it was inevitable. But much of what we have done since then—at least, as perceived by Afghans—raises doubts about our long-term intentions. This is not a criticism of policy. Rather, it highlights the need for us to be cognizant that war is a contest of wills.
Finally, we often start by determining the resources we want to commit or what is palatable from a political standpoint. We confuse activity with progress, and that’s always dangerous, especially in war. In reality, we should first define the objective, compare it with the current state, and then work backward: what is the nature of this conflict? What are the obstacles to progress, and how do we overcome them? What are the opportunities, and how do we exploit them? What resources do we need to accomplish our goals? The confusion of activity with progress is one final continuity in the nature of warfare that we must always remember.
(Continued at the link below)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

21st Century Cultures of War: Advantage Them


Anna Simons' work is always worth reading.  I think this paper should be read in all Professional Military Education (PME)  programs.  The full 64 page report can be downloaded at the link below.
V/R
Dave

21st Century Cultures of War: Advantage Them


Anna Simons is a Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. She is the author of Networks of Dissolution: Somalia Undone and The Company They Keep: Life Inside the U.S. Army Special Forces. Most recently she is the co-author of The Sovereignty Solution: A Commonsense Approach to Global Security. Simons' focus has been on conflict, intervention, and the military from an anthropological perspective. Her work examines ties that bind members of groups together as well as divides which drive groups apart. She holds a PhD in social anthropology from Harvard University and an A.B. from Harvard College.

April 2013
In the inaugural launch of the FPRI’s new e-publication, The Philadelphia Papers, the anthropologist Anna Simons of the Defense Analysis department at the Naval Postgraduate School, and member of the Orbis Board of Editors, provocatively assesses cultures of war in the 21stcentury. She cautions that while the United States military increasingly dazzles in the technological realm, we remain at a marked disadvantage when it comes to social relations, chronically underestimating the sophistication of adversaries and allies in the (non-East Asian) non-West. This asymmetry, to include who is willing to do what to whom, puts our soldiers, diplomats, and intelligence communities at a distinct disadvantage. She argues that the U.S. needs to take this into account as it rethinks how to wage war, never mind whether to become involved in the kinds of ambiguous political-military conflicts we have engaged in over the past decade.  Indeed, without a greater appreciation for the social and anti-social skills of likely future adversaries, current problems plaguing our military -– from PTSD through questionable generalship -- will only worsen over time. 
(Full report at the link  below)

Analysis: No good military options for U.S. in Syria


Before we can identify military options we need to develop a strategy. 

Some say the US military is to tired for another operation while others in the military say they are ready to ruck up and go right now.  Here is my response to each.

With all due respect we should not confuse enthusiasm with capability.  While I have no doubt that you and your Marines (as well as Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen) can and will march to the sound of the guns when given the word to go that does not necessarily mean we can or should.  There is no doubt that our forces  will go anywhere and do whatever is necessary for our national security.   

However,  it is not that the military is necessarily too tired from operations per se (though there are many who are worn out from multiple deployments) that they could not conduct a contingency operation such as in Grenada, Panama, Haiti, The first Gulf War or even Libya.  Our military is ready and able (and always willing) to execute contingencies on the scale of those operations.  What we cannot do is embark on more decades long wars.  That is what we are tired of doing (and tired from doing).  

This is why I stress the strategy and the need to develop balanced and coherent ends, ways, and means.  I have heard no real strategy articulated by the proponents of Syrian intervention.  And I fear from what little I know about the situation in Syria that if we were to intervene for any of the reasons I have heard ( from securing WMD to ousting Assad to to a no-fly zone to supporting resistance groups)  we will end up with another Iraq 2 and/or Afghanistan. The only way to avoid another long term commitment of major combat forces is to get the strategy right (or as close to right as possible) at the beginning and be honest in our analysis about the likelihood of a long term commitment.  

So in the end I agree you can and will march to the sound of the guns and I agree that we are tired of decade long commitments but if we get the strategy right (based on sound policy) then we can do what is necessary to support out national security objectives (assuming again someone can articulate them in terms of Syria). And objective strategic analysis might lead to the opposite conclusion: e.g., perhaps we should not intervene.
V/R
Dave


Analysis: No good military options for U.S. in Syria

3:50pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite President Barack Obama's pledge that Syria's use of chemical weapons is a "game changer" for the United States, he is unlikely to turn to military options quickly and would want allies joining him in any intervention.

Possible military choices range from limited one-off missile strikes from ships - one of the less complicated scenarios - to bolder operations like carving out no-fly safe zones.

One of the most politically unpalatable possibilities envisions sending tens of thousands of U.S. forces to help secure Syrian chemical weapons.

Obama has so far opposed limited steps, like arming anti-government rebels, but pressure to deepen U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war has grown since Thursday's White House announcement that President Bashar al-Assad likely used chemical weapons.

After fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon is wary of U.S. involvement in Syria. The president's top uniformed military adviser, General Martin Dempsey, said last month he could not see a U.S. military option with an "understandable outcome" there.

"There's a lot of analysis to be done before reaching any major decisions that would push U.S. policy more in the direction of military options," a senior U.S. official told Reuters.

That caution is understandable, given the experience of Iraq where the United States went to war based on bad intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon has made repeated warnings of the enormous risks and limitations of using American military might in Syria's civil war.

STRIKES, NO-FLY ZONE

One form of military intervention that could to some extent limit U.S. and allied involvement in Syria's war would be one-off strikes on pro-Assad forces or infrastructure tied to chemical weapons use. Given Syria's air defenses, planners may choose to fire missiles from ships at sea.

"The most proportional response (to limited chemical weapons use) would be a strike on the units responsible, whether artillery or airfields," said Jeffrey White, a former senior official at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency and a Middle East expert who is now a defense fellow at the Washington Institute For Near East Policy.

"It would demonstrate to Assad that there is a cost to using these weapons - the problem so far is that there's been no cost to the regime from their actions."

It is not clear how the Syrian government would respond and if it would try to retaliate militarily against the U.S. forces in the region. U.S. military involvement would also upset Russia which has a naval facility on Syria's Mediterranean coast.

Another option that the Pentagon has examined involves the creation, ostensibly in support of Turkey and Jordan, of humanitarian safe areas that would also be no-fly zones off limits to the Syrian air force - an option favored by lawmakers including Senator John McCain of Arizona.

This would involve taking down Syrian air defenses and destroying Syrian artillery from a certain distance beyond those zones, to protect them from incoming fire.

Advocates, including in Congress, say a safe zone inside Syria along the Turkish border, for example, would give needed space for rebels and allow the West to increase support for those anti-Assad forces it can vet.
(Continued at the link below)

South Korea to Pull Remaining Workers From the North


As I think about Kaesong, a few things come to mind. The obvious one as most speculate is that this is part of the ongoing strategy to support the regime's blackmail diplomacy and just another step in ratcheting up tensions to try to force the hand of the ROKG and influence the USG.

Another possibility (however slight) might be that the regime is following the precedent of Kumgangsan (Diamond Mountains) -the tourism center built by Hyundai and later "confiscated" by the regime who now runs tours there, mostly for Chinese and other foreigners.  Perhaps the regime thinks that the South has sufficiently developed the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the north believes it is time to operate it on its own to make its profits and cut out the "middlemen" of South Korean businesses (I can see Kim Jong-un's sycophantic advisers telling him this).  They will of course be in for a rude surprise when they find that they cannot run the factories as effectively and efficiently as South Korean businessmen because they will have to revert to operating on Juche economic policies and not good business practices.

Another possibility (even less likely) is that perhaps they will want to contract the complex to the Chinese to run it.  I think that is less likely because Chinese businesses are losing money in the northern border areas because of north Korean "business practices."

The last thought is that perhaps the north has had too many of its people exposed to outside information.  This is something we have often discussed;  e.g., the north will do business with the outside world until there is too much exposure of its population to contaminated ideas (and ideals) at which time it will cut off those business contacts.  We may be at the point where the north is fearing that there is just too much exposure and influence.  Certainly the thousands of north Korean workers at Kaesong will never ever return to their original homes and will never have contact (or be "released back into") the "general population" (attempted prison reference pun intended).  If the regime does fear that it has reached the limit of exposure to external information that could be a sign that it perceives a greater likelihood for internal unrest and that it must crack down and prevent the external information from spreading.  Of course with the increased information getting in through defector organizations and the proliferation of South Korean DVDs as well as connectivity through cell phones and even limited internet access could make this moot as well.  But again it could be an indicator or the regime's assessment of potential internal problems.  If this is in fact a reason for the recent actions, then it is another indicator of the importance of mounting a comprehensive psychological operations campaign against both the second tier leadership and the general population to prepare them psychologically for what comes next after the regime goes away.
V/R
Dave


South Korea to Pull Remaining Workers From the North
Published: April 26, 2013

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea said on Friday that it was pulling out the 175 remaining factory managers from a jointly operated industrial park in North Korea, deepening doubts over the survival of the only remaining symbol of cooperation between the two countries amid a tense standoff over the North’s nuclear program.

Multimedia





Related

Follow@nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

Once billed as an important experiment for Korean reunification, the factory complex across the border at Kaesong exposed North Korea to capitalism, pairing the South’s manufacturing skills with cheap North Korean labor. At the time it was opened in 2004, the park was revolutionary; to build it, the two Koreas breached one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers, pushing back military encampments, clearing mines and constructing a cross-border road and rail line.

The decision to effectively close the 123 factories there is an indication of how fraught relations between the two nations have become in recent months. The South had preserved the Kaesong complex even when it cut off all other trade ties with the North after the sinking of one of its warships in 2010. That episode killed 46 sailors, and the South blamed the North. North Korea had also continued its support of the plant, which provided badly needed hard currency, through previous diplomatic crises.

“The Kaesong complex fell victim to a war of nerves between the new leaders of both Koreas, who don’t want to be seen as weak,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

North Korea had already removed its 53,000 workers this month as part of an escalation of threats after the United Nations imposed sanctions to punish the North for its nuclear test in February. The North’s leaders cited the danger of war that it said was posed by joint South Korean-United States military drills. It also blocked supplies and personnel from the South, forcing all the factories to stop production. Most South Korean managers already at the plant returned home, but some stayed in the hope that relations would improve.

The decision to withdraw the managers came hours after North Korea rejected the South’s proposal for talks on the park’s future. South Korea said the situation was becoming untenable because the North was no longer letting food and medicine be shipped to the site.

“To protect our citizens, we have made an inevitable decision to bring all of them home,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae, South Korea’s point man on the North, said in a nationally televised statement.
The decision reflected President Park Geun-hye’s determination not to succumb to what she called North Korea’s tactic of using provocations and pressure to extract concessions — a move the impoverished country was accused of using successfully in the past to secure major shipments of aid. On Friday, Ms. Park told her cabinet ministers that she had no intention of “waiting forever” for North Korea to change its mind over the factory complex.

The managers are expected to begin leaving on Saturday.

So far, neither country has publicly said that it wants to shut the complex permanently. But the countries’ tit-for-tat moves have deepened doubts that the factories would resume operations anytime soon.

South Korea’s leaders have liked to point to the complex’s continuing operations to assuage foreign investors who might have second thoughts about investing in their country because of military tensions with the North. It is unclear how investors will react; the announcement was made after the stock market closed.
(Continued at the link below)


    The Market Shall Set North Korea Free


    Some important insights and commentary.  I wish we could remind all pundits and those who think that we can negotiate with the Kim Family Regime based on international norms and standards to always remember these three key points:

    All of us at the United Front Department — also known as “the window into and out of North Korea” — learned three tenets of diplomacy by heart: 1. Pay no attention to South Korea. 2. Exploit Japan’s emotions. 3. Ply the United States with lies, but make sure they are logical ones. 
    Kim Jong-il stressed the importance of these three tenets as the framework within which we were required to implement his vision for Pyongyang’s foreign relations. North Korea’s dealings with South Korea, Japan and the United States always hewed closely to these principles.
    V/R
    Dave


    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
    The Market Shall Set North Korea Free

    Sung Choi
    By JANG JIN-SUNG
    Published: April 26, 2013

    I DEFECTED from North Korea in 2004. I decided to risk my life to leave my home country — where I worked as a psychological warfare officer for the government — when it finally sunk in that there are two North Koreas: one real and the other a fiction created by the regime.

    Although in my job I had access to foreign media, books with passages containing criticism of our Dear Leader Kim Jong-il or his revered father, Kim Il-sung, had large sections blacked out. One day, out of deep curiosity, I made up an excuse to stay behind at work to decipher the redacted words of a history book.

    I locked the office door and put the pages against a window. Light from outside made the words under the ink perfectly clear. I read voraciously. I stayed late at work again and again to learn my country’s real history — or at least another view of it.

    Most shocking was what I discovered about the Korean War. We had been taught all of our lives how an invasion by the South had triggered the conflict. Yet now I was reading that not only South Korea but the rest of the world believed the North had started the war. Who was right?

    It was after my harrowing defection — in which I bribed my way to a border crossing and escaped by running across a frozen river to China — that I recognized the existence of a third North Korea: a theoretical one. This is the North Korea constructed by the outside world, a piecemeal analysis of the regime and its propaganda that misses the political and economic realities of the country.

    All of us at the United Front Department — also known as “the window into and out of North Korea” — learned three tenets of diplomacy by heart: 1. Pay no attention to South Korea. 2. Exploit Japan’s emotions. 3. Ply the United States with lies, but make sure they are logical ones.

    Kim Jong-il stressed the importance of these three tenets as the framework within which we were required to implement his vision for Pyongyang’s foreign relations. North Korea’s dealings with South Korea, Japan and the United States always hewed closely to these principles.

    Our department’s mission was to deceive our people and the world, doing what was necessary to keep our leader in power. We openly referred to talks with South Korea as “aid farming,” because while Seoul sought dialogue through its so-called Sunshine Policy, we saw it as an opening not for diplomatic progress but for extracting as much aid as possible. We also successfully bought time for our nuclear program through the endless marathon of the six-party talks.
    (Continued at the link below)

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Activists set to mark North Korea Freedom Week


    I hate to continue to beat the drum (but I will not stop):   we cannot forget that the Kim Family Regime is arguably (or maybe even without argument) the worst violator of human rights in history.
    V/R
    Dave

    2013/04/27 04:50 KST


    Activists set to mark North Korea Freedom Week
    By Lee Chi-dong
    WASHINGTON, April 26 (Yonhap) -- Activists working to improve North Korea's human rights situation will stage an intensive campaign worldwide next week to raise public awareness of the problem, a main organizer said Friday.

       They plan to hold various events in Washington, Seoul and other cities to mark the 10th annual North Korea Freedom Week from April 28 through May 5, according to Susan Sholte, head of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, based in Washington.

       Her group will work with other organizations and people supporting efforts to address the North Korean human rights issue.

       A special concert, titled "A Night of Hope," will kick off North Korea Freedom Week in Washington at 7 p.m. Sunday.

       This year, the coalition will focus on collecting online petitions demanding China's new president, Xi Jinping, stop repatriating North Korean defectors.

       It has designated May 2 as Worldwide Awareness Day for North Korean Refugees.
    (Continued at the link below)

    Answers to Why People Become Terrorists by Bruce Hoffman


    From the Director of our Security Studies Program (and my boss)
    V/R
    Dave

    Answers to Why People Become Terrorists
    by Bruce Hoffman Apr 27, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

    Terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman unpacks what we know about how homegrown bombers get radicalized.

    From the bombers of 9/11 to the Tsarnaev brothers, everyone asks the question: why? Why would these men kill? Why would these men aim for such destruction? We know there is no one path to radicalization.  The reasons why someone picks up a gun or blows themselves up are ineluctably personal, born variously of grievance and frustration; religious piety or the desire for systemic socio-economic change; irredentist conviction or commitment to revolution. And yet, though there is no universal terrorist personality, nor has a single, broadly applicable profile ever been produced, there are things we do know. Terrorists are generally motivated by a profound sense of (albeit, misguided) altruism; deep feelings of self-defense; and, if they are religiously observant or devout, an abiding, even unswerving, commitment to their faith and the conviction that their violence is not only theologically justified, but divinely commanded.

    Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight en route from Paris to Miami in December 2001 was a career criminal who dropped out of high school and converted to Islam while in prison before he was recruited to al Qaeda. (AP)

    All terrorists fundamentally see themselves as altruists: incontestably believing that they are serving a “good” cause designed to achieve a greater good for a wider constituency—whether real or imagined—which the terrorist and his organization or cell purport to represent.  Indeed, it is precisely this sense of self-righteous commitment and self-sacrifice that that draws people into terrorist groups. It all helps them justify the violence they commit. It gives them collective meaning. It gives them cumulative power. The terrorist virtually always sees himself as a reluctant warrior: cast perpetually on the defensive and forced to take up arms to protect himself and his community. They see themselves as driven by desperation——and lacking any viable alternative—to violence against a repressive state, a predatory rival ethnic or nationalist group, or an unresponsive international order.

    Religion only serves as one more justification—particularly in the case of suicide terrorism. Theological arguments are invoked both by the organizations responsible for the attacks and by the communities from which the terrorists are recruited. In the case of Muslims, although the Quran forbids both suicide and the infliction of wanton violence, pronouncements have also been made by radical Muslim clerics, and in some instances have been promulgated as fatwas (Islamic religious edicts), affirming the legitimacy of violence in defense of defenseless peoples and to resist the invasion of Muslim lands.  

    Among the most prominent was the declaration by the Ayatollah Khomeini who once declared (in the context of the Shi’a interpretation of Islam) that he knew of no command “more binding to the Muslim than the command to sacrifice life and property to defend and bolster Islam.”  Radical Islamist terrorist movements have thus created a recruitment and support mechanism of compelling theological incentives that sustains their violent campaigns.

    But individuals will always be attracted to violence in different ways. Just look at the people who have gravitated towards terrorism in the United States in recent years. We have seen terrorists of South Asian and North as well as East African descent as well as those hailing both from the Middle East and Caribbean.

    Now we have the Tsarnaev brothers products of centuries-long conflict between Russia and Chechnya. We have seen life-long devout Muslims as well as recent converts—including one Philadelphia suburban housewife who touted her petite stature and blonde hair and blue eyes as being so atypical of the stereotypical terrorist so as to defy any efforts at profiling. Radicalized over the Internet, she sought to use her self-described ability to avoid detection to assassinate a Swedish artist who drew a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. They come from every walk of life, from marginalized people working in menial jobs, some with long criminal records or histories of juvenile delinquency, to people from solidly middle and upper-middle class backgrounds with university and perhaps even graduate degrees and prior passions for cars, sports, rock music and other completely secular, material interests.
    (Continued at the link below)



    From Chechnya to Boston: How the threat spreads

    Maria is a friend and one of the best journalists analyzing this threat. I do recommend her web site and and her work. (www.rappler.com)
    V/R
    Dave


    From Chechnya to Boston: How the threat spreads

    BY MARIA RESSA
    POSTED ON 04/23/2013 12:34 AM  | UPDATED 04/26/2013 12:13 AM


    When the Chechen roots of Boston bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became public, it threw me back in time to the end of September 2002 when I delved into Chechnya’s links to al-Qaeda’s global jihad.

    I was in a small cubicle on the 6th floor of the North Tower of CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. For nearly a week, I had spent 16 to 18 hours a day wading through 251 videotapes from Osama bin Laden’s personal collection. Afraid they’d be mistaken as members of al-Qaeda, the Afghans who found the tapes buried them again until after the arrival of US troops. Then they dug them up and gave them to CNN’s Nic Robertson and Mark Phillips.

    One by one, I shook the sand out of each tape, placed it in the deck and watched the video roll, taking notes I still have today. The video was graphic, at times horrifying and extremely alarming. CNN’s investigative producer in charge of the tapes, Henry Schuster, asked me to go through all of them to look for faces and places from Southeast Asia. I watched everything closely, aware we were seeing this before governments and security agencies.

    I found the first video of a training camp in Indonesia as well as many others, which all became part of our investigative series based on the “terror tapes.” It gave new insights into al-Qaeda’s organizational structure, its strategies for training, its tactics and its recruitment methods.

    Personally alarming for me was tape 106 on the al-Qaeda registry: it contained my report on Pope John Paul II’s 1995 visit to the Philippines. It was chilling to know Osama bin Laden watched the way his plots played out on media, perhaps laughing at the naiveté of journalists.

    All this came rushing back when I heard "Chechnya" because that conflict appeared numerous times in bin Laden’s tape collection. Looking back at my notes, I found at least 11 tapes which focused extensively on Chechnya. Tape 135 shows Arab fighters in Chechnya ambushing a Russian convoy - suggesting the cameraman was shooting from the perspective of the Chechen fighters. Several tapes focused on the activities of a key leader, Ibn al-Khattab, who personally met with bin Laden.

    Khattab is killed

    Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim region in the North Caucasus where insurgents have been fighting for independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 1994, the first Chechen war began, leading to 2 years of violence as Moscow responded with unbridled brutality.

    In 1999, President Vladimir Putin increased Russia’s military presence in Chechnya, triggering the second Chechen war. Moscow says Khattab played a key role in leading Islamic militants in Chechnya’s neighboring region of Dagestan, right around the time the Tsarnaev family moved there.
    Like Khattab, other Chechen fighters travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to join the global jihad. Chechen militants trained at camps run by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and Chechen warlords have been added to the US list of terrorist suspects.

    Khattab was killed in 2002, but in 2011, the UN included Doku Umarov, leader of the Caucasus Emirate, to the list of individuals associated with al-Qaeda.

    The Boston Marathon bombing is the first time Chechnya has been linked to a terrorist attack in the United States. The reality is Chechen insurgents have largely kept their focus on Moscow, despite the links to and inspiration from al-Qaeda.

    There are conflicting reports about where the two brothers were born. Kygryz media, quoting local police, suggest both were born in Kyrgyzstan, but family members said the younger brother, Dzokhar, was born in Dagestan. It seems they never lived in Chechnya but maintained close ties to its culture.

    The 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was born in 1986. A decade ago, the Tsarnaev family emigrated to the Boston area. Tamerlan may be named after one of history’s most ferocious warlords, a devout Muslim who called himself “the sword of Islam.” Tamerlan seemed to feel disconnected from American life. “I don’t have a single American friend,” he told a photographer. “I don’t understand them.

    Tamerlan’s YouTube channel gives a glimpse of what’s important to him, showing his support of fundamentalism and violent jihad. Most alarming is a video about the black flag, which has appeared in violent protests around the world and was discovered by authorities in jihadi camps, including the Abu Sayyaf, in the Philippines.

    He deleted two video clips under the label “Terrorists,” which CNN says links to the Caucasus Emirate, the group led by Doku Umarov. That group has significant ties to al-Qaeda, according to a 2011 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The evidence of the Caucasus Emirate’s integration into global Jihad is overwhelming. Umarov has repeatedly associated the Caucasus Emirate with the global Jihad,” the study said.
    (Continued at the link below)

    A look at the strengths and weaknesses of North Korea’s military


    For a good source of north Korea military capabilities in a very readable format I would recommend Dr. Bruce Bechtol's books  Red Rogue and Defiant Failed State and his forthcoming The Last Days of Kim Jong Il.  There are few (if any) books that provide the details of the north Korean military; both their capabilities and how they operate and will operate.  

    The other authority is Joe Bermudez.  You can read his analysis on Janes and at his KPA journal. http://www.kpajournal.com/

    A look at the strengths and weaknesses of North Korea’s military



    By Associated PressPublished: April 25
    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s military, founded 81 years ago Thursday, is older than the country itself. It began as an anti-Japanese militia and is now the heart of the nation’s “military first” policy.

    Late leader Kim Jong Il elevated the military’s role during his 17-year rule; South Korea estimates he boosted troop levels to 1.2 million soldiers. The military’s new supreme commander, Kim Jong Un, gave the Korean People’s Army a sharpened focus this year by instructing troops to build a “nuclear arms force.” Yet the army is believed to be running on outdated equipment and short supplies.

    The secretive army divulges few details about its operations, but here is an assessment from foreign experts of its strengths and weaknesses:
    ___
    ARTILLERY

    North Korea provided a chilling reminder of what its artillery is capable of when it showered a front-line South Korean island with shells, killing four people in November 2010 and underscoring the threat that its artillery troops pose at the disputed sea border.

    South Korea says North Korea has more than 13,000 artillery guns, and its long-range batteries are capable of hitting the capital Seoul, a city of more than 10 million people just 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the border.

    “North Korea’s greatest advantage is that its artillery could initially deliver a heavy bombardment on the South Korean capital,” Mark Fitzpatrick, a former U.S. State Department official now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an email.

    South Korea’s defense minister estimates that 70 percent of North Korean artillery batteries along the border could be “neutralized” in five days if war broke out. But Sohn Yong-woo, a professor at the Graduate School of National Defense Strategy of Hannam University in South Korea, said that would be too late to prevent millions of civilian casualties and avert a disastrous blow to Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
    ___
    SPECIAL FORCES

    Experts believe guerrilla warfare would be the North’s most viable strategy in the event of conflict, since its conventional army suffers from aging equipment and a shortage of firepower.

    Seoul estimates North Korea has about 200,000 special forces, and Pyongyang has used them before.
    In 1968, 31 North Korean commandos stormed Seoul’s presidential Blue House in a failed assassination attempt against then-President Park Chung-hee. That same year, more than 120 North Korean commandos sneaked into eastern South Korea and killed some 20 South Korean civilians, soldiers and police officers.

    In 1996, 26 North Korean agents infiltrated South Korea’s northeastern mountains after their submarine broke down, sparking a manhunt that left all but two of them dead, along with 13 South Korean soldiers and civilians.

    “The special forces’ goal is to discourage both the United States and South Korea from fighting with North Korea at the earliest stage of war by putting major infrastructure, such as nuclear plants, and their citizens at risk,” said Kim Yeon-su, a professor at Korea National Defense University in Seoul. “The North’s special forces are a key component of its asymmetric capabilities along with nuclear bombs, missiles and artillery. Their job is to create as many battlefronts as possible to put their enemies in disarray.
    ___
    ON LAND, BY SEA AND IN THE AIR
    (Continued at the link below)

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Park says to unveil 'Northeast Asia peace' initiative during visit to U.S.


    The Seoul process:
     The idea, which Park dubbed the "Seoul process," calls for the United States and Asian nations to enhance cooperation, first on non-political issues such as climate change, terrorism prevention and atomic power, before expanding the trust built in such cooperation to other areas.
    An interesting initiative that I hope we can support.  I think it is very important that Seoul takes the lead in the region. This can be a positive step (even though I remain completely pessimistic that any positive step like this will influence the north).
    V/R
    Dave

    2013/04/24 20:43 KST


    (2nd LD) Park says to unveil 'Northeast Asia peace' initiative during visit to U.S.
    By Chang Jae-soon

    SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Wednesday she will unveil her vision to promote peace in Northeast Asia during a visit to the United States next month, offering an invitation for North Korea to join the trust-building process.

       The idea, which Park dubbed the "Seoul process," calls for the United States and Asian nations to enhance cooperation, first on non-political issues such as climate change, terrorism prevention and atomic power, before expanding the trust built in such cooperation to other areas.

       The initiative appears to be an expanded, Asian version of Park's "Korean Peninsula trust proces" that calls for greater exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas so as to build trust and reduce tensions across one of the world's most heavily fortified border.

       "Asian countries have a high level of mutual economic interdependence, but they also a lot of contentious issues when it comes to security and territorial matters. We call this 'Asia paradox' and the reason I'm doing this (the initiative) is to overcome that," Park said during a meeting with dozens of managing editors of major newspapers and broadcasters, including Yonhap News Agency and its broadcasting arm, news Y.

       "I believe North Korea can get into this initiative," she added.

       Park is scheduled to visit the United States, her first overseas trip since taking office in February, for a summit with President Barack Obama on May 7. In Washington, she will also deliver a speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

       Park said she expects to have in-depth discussions with Obama about how to denuclearize North Korea and ways to further strengthen the alliance between Seoul and Washington. South Korean needs closer cooperation with Washington now than at any other times, she said.
    (Continued at the link below)
    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2013/04/24/94/0301000000AEN20130424013800315F.HTML

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013

    Park's speech to U.S. Congress to show strong alliance amid N. Korea's threats: Boehner


    An interesting piece of Congressional trivia worth checking.  I have been told that the last head of state to address a joint session of Congress was President Lee thus two Korean heads of state will give back to back addresses.  I am sure if it is true that it will be perhaps coincidence (with 2012 an election year there was probably no time for another head of state to address Congress) but it is also interesting and perhaps worth highlighting to show the strength of the ROK/US Alliance.  (e.g., another action to attack the north's strategy to try to split the Alliance).
    V/R
    Dave

    2013/04/24 05:28 KST

    Park's speech to U.S. Congress to show strong alliance amid N. Korea's threats: Boehner
    By Lee Chi-dong
    WASHINGTON, April 23 (Yonhap) -- The upcoming speech by South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the U.S. Congress will provide a chance to demonstrate the strength of the alliance between the two nations amid North Korea's military threats, the leader of the House said.

       "It will be my honor to welcome President Park to the United States Capitol next month,”House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a statement. "Given the North Korean regime's recent provocative actions, President Park's address to Congress will serve as a vital and timely reminder that Americans and South Koreans will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder to preserve our hopes for peace and freedom."

       Park plans to address a joint session of Congress on May 8 after holding talks with President Barack Obama at the White House.

       She is scheduled to arrive in Washington on May 5 for her first overseas trip since taking office in February.

       It comes as South Korea and the U.S. mark the 60th anniversary of their alliance this year.

       U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also noted the significance of Park's planned speech.

       "America's close relationship with South Korea, forged 60 years ago during the dark days of the Korean War, remains strong and vibrant to this very day," he said in a separate statement.

       On the 60th anniversary of the armistice of the 1950-53 war, he added, "I believe it is only fitting to bestow this high honor to Northeast Asia's first elected female head of state.
    (Continued at the link below)

    Today's Army marches on its batteries while searching for alternatives


    Good story on Pete Newell and the Rapid Equipping Force (REF).  It begs a couple of questions:  first, could we be this innovative in other areas within the Department of Defense and second, by making the REF a permanent agency will it evolve to function like the rest of the permanent bureaucratic organizations?  E.g., will it lose its innovation mojo?
    V/R
    Dave
    Today's Army marches on its batteries while searching for alternatives

    The U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force aims to help soldiers in the field by finding "the first, best, fastest solution." Above, as part of an exercise at Fort Bliss, one soldier team came up with its own design for a Combat Outpost -- a remote camp for 20 to 150 soldiers.
    - Alex Chadwick


    The U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force -- REF for short -- is a little-known agency making big changes in how soldiers fight. It was created after an officer saw a video of soldiers trying to clear an Afghan cave with a rope and grappling hook -- why not robots, he wondered? That was 10 years ago, and since then REF has become an innovator in many fields, including energy.

    The great military book is from early China, “The Art of War.”

    There is no art of soldiering... you heavy up, go for a walk, look for trouble for a few hours. Or days. Watch a YouTube video of a patrol in Afghanistan.

    “The average weight on a soldier's back is somewhere around 104 pounds.”

    That’s Col. Pete Newell, U.S. Army. Soldiering doesn't change. Technology does.

    “Twenty-seven of it is batteries,” Newell said.

    Col. Newell is the director of the Rapid Equipping Force -- REF -- a think tank, hardware store, tech lab for combat soldiers. A perfect solution to a soldier problem -- a Humvee redesigned against IEDs, for instance -- might take years. REF tries to find pretty good answers that already exist, or are about to exist.

    “What we'll describe is find the first, best, fastest solution we can,” Newell said.

    Here's an example, something REF helped develop to answer a soldier problem with, again, IEDs. And if you wonder what all the batteries are for, well...

    “It's called the Thor III,” Newell said.

    Thor. It sounds heavy.

    “The piece of equipment itself weighs 25 pounds,” Newell said. “Over a three-day patrol, a platoon of 28 soldiers will have three of these systems because of the bands that they operate at.”

    Thor is a jammer, a signal jammer. Everybody adapts technology, including the people trying to kill us. A favorite tactic... a hidden bomb with a cell-phone trigger. Wait for the soldiers to get close, call the number... boom. If you're going out on patrol for three days, you want a Thor III, batteries included. If Thor is working, the bomb triggers will not.

    “The battery total for that 72 hours is 238 pounds,” Newell said. “So 238 pounds distributed across 28 bodies, on top of the weight for the system and the weight of all the other stuff they're carrying.”

    Col. Newell is a former brigade commander, awarded a Silver Star and a unit commendation for leadership at Fallujah, the biggest fight in Iraq. He knows soldiering, but when he took over REF three years ago, he didn't think about energy.

    “I would tell you that I really did not see that as a major task for the Rapid Equipping Force,” he said.
    But... combat outposts, remote battlefield camps for 30 to 100 soldiers, use a lot of fuel. The convoys to supply them are magnets for bombs, snipers -- they’re the Army's single greatest vulnerability in Afghanistan: Energy. It's also true for a single soldier -- heavied up, and walking patrol.

    The Thor III is a REF solution. Too heavy, too power-hungry, though it works right now with existing tech, until they design something better. Still, in January, at REF headquarters at Fort Belvoir outside Washington, the colonel was more excited by something else.
    (Continued at the link below)

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    World Affairs TODAY: Season 5: Episode 11: Are North Korea's Threats of War Real?


    I was a panelist at this World Affairs Council event on April 16th.  One hour video is at the You Tube link below.
    V/R
    Dave

    World Affairs TODAY: Season 5: Episode 11: Are North Korea's Threats of War Real?




    Published on Apr 22, 2013
    The recent threats of war by North Korea's Kim Jong-un have caused serious alarm in the international community and ten-sions to rise on the Korean peninsula. This is not the first time such threats have been made. Should they be taken seriously, or are they part of a pattern of diplomatic strategy? How real is the threat of war from North Korea? Panelists: Hon. Joseph DeTrani is President of Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) and former US Special En-voy for the Six-Party Talks with North Korea. Ms. Bonnie S. Glaser is Senior Adviser for Asia, Freeman Chair in China Studies and Senior Associate, Pacific Forum at CSIS. Mr. David Maxwell is Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. Moderator is Dr. Jae Jung Suh, Associate Professor of Korea Studies at Johns Hopkins University SAIS

    Calls against wartime control transfer resurface amid tension


    We should just keep in mind that a key element of north Korean strategy is to split the ROK/US Alliance.  This is not about OPCON transfer.  In 2015 the ROK/US Combined Forces Command will be dissolved and there will be separate war fighting elements on the Korean peninsula (yes there  ROK will be the supported command and the US will be the supporting command but from the north's perspective this is another step toward splitting the alliance.)  We need to ensure we are organizing the military instrument of power in the most effective way in order to accomplish the strategic objectives of the Alliance.  If  our assessment is that dissolving the ROK/US CFC best supports accomplishment of our Alliance objectives then so be it.  However, if objectively analysis shows otherwise we need to rethink such dissolution.
    V/R
    Dave

    Calls against wartime control transfer resurface amid tension


    Published : 2013-04-22 20:17
    Updated : 2013-04-22 20:19

    South Korean Army soldiers prepare to fire 105 mm howitzers during an exercise in Paju, South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom. (AP-Yonhap News)
    North Korea’s growing threat is feeding a fresh dispute over whether South Korea is fully ready to retake wartime operational control from Washington in December 2015 as scheduled.

    The highly divisive issue came to the fore last week when former U.S. Forces Korea commander Burwell Bell, once an outspoken supporter of the OPCON transfer, retracted his position, stressing that the North must be “aggressively contained” under U.S leadership.

    “The U.S. must first offer to the South Korean government an opportunity to permanently postpone the OPCON transfer,” said the retired general who led the 28,500 American troops on the peninsula from 2006-2008.

    “It is my strong position now that if approved by the South Korean government, all efforts to execute the OPCON transfer should be halted. Once armed with nuclear weapons, the North will possess a capability that will put the South at a significant disadvantage on any future battlefield, or in any future negotiations.”

    After Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 12, opponents of the transfer began raising concerns, arguing that Seoul was not yet capable of leading combat operations in terms of military equipment, strategies and experience.

    But proponents said the preparations should proceed as planned, arguing that Seoul had relied too heavily on Washington for peninsular defense for too long, and that whether its military could stand on its own was a matter of national pride. 

    During the presidential election last year President Park Geun-hye pledged to push to retake the OPCON as planned. 

    Seoul and Washington will start assessing Seoul’s readiness during the allies’ Key Resolve command post exercise in March next year and the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills in August, a government source said on condition of anonymity.
    (Continued at the link below)

    The North Korean spy who blew up a plane


    Despite having removed the north from the state sponsor of terror list, we should keep in mind that this kind of training continues in the north.
    V/R
    Dave

    22 April 2013 Last updated at 09:43 ET

    The North Korean spy who blew up a plane
    By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
    BBC News, Seoul


    Kim Hyun-hui: "I am sad to have been born in North Korea"

    Kim Hyun-hui certainly doesn't look like a mass murderer. The 51-year-old mother of two has a gentle smile and soft voice.

    Today she lives in quiet seclusion somewhere in South Korea; she won't say where. The day we meet she is, as always, accompanied by a group of hired heavies in ill-fitting suits.

    She fears the North Korean government still wants to kill her, and with good reason.

    Kim Hyun-hui was once an agent of the North Korean regime. Twenty-five years ago, on Pyongyang's orders, she blew up a South Korean airliner.

    Sitting in a Seoul hotel room she describes to me how, at the age of 19, she was recruited from an elite Pyongyang University where she was studying Japanese.

    She trained for six years. For three of them she was paired with a young Japanese woman, Yaeko Taguchi, who had been kidnapped from her home in northern Japan. She says Mrs Taguchi taught her to speak and act like a Japanese.

    Any order would be carried out with extreme loyalty - you were ready to sacrifice your life”
    Kim Hyun-hui

    Then came her fateful mission.

    It was 1987 and South Korea was preparing to host the Olympic Games in Seoul. North Korea's leader Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il were determined to stop it.

    "I was told by a senior officer that before the Seoul Olympics we would take down a South Korean airliner," Kim Hyun-hui tells me.

    "He said it would create chaos and confusion in South Korea. The mission would strike a severe blow for the revolution."

    'Direct orders'

    Kim and an older accomplice boarded the Korean Airlines plane in Baghdad. She placed the suitcase bomb in an overhead locker.

    During a stopover in Abu Dhabi, the two North Korean agents got off and made their escape.
    Hours later over the Andaman Sea, the bomb blew up. All 115 on board were killed.

    But then their plan went wrong. The two agents were tracked to Bahrain and caught.

    Her accomplice killed himself with a cyanide-laced cigarette, but Kim Hyun-hui failed. She was instead flown to Seoul and paraded before the international media.

    "When I came down the steps of that aircraft, I didn't see anything," she says. "I just looked at the ground. They had taped my mouth shut. I thought I was entering the den of the lion. I was sure they were going to kill me."

    Instead they took her to an underground bunker where the interrogations began.

    At first she says she tried to keep up the pretence she was Japanese. But finally she broke.
    (Continued at the link below)

    Sunday, April 21, 2013

    'Orphan': A Novel Imagines Life In North Korea


    I strongly recommend reading or listening to the interview below.  I know I have recommended reading this Pulitzer Prize winning novel before (along with Robert  Collins' report on Songbun http://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/HRNK_Songbun_Web.pdf) but I think listening to this interview or reading it should make anyone who is interested in gaining some understanding of life in north Korea want to read the novel.
    V/R
    Dave

    'Orphan': A Novel Imagines Life In North Korea
    April 21, 2013 8:00 AM

    Audio for this story from Weekend Edition Sunday will be available at approximately 12:00 p.m. ET.
    Listen To The Original Story

    Last week, the The Orphan Master's Son was awarded the Pulitzer prize for fiction. Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin spoke with author Adam Johnson last year about his book. In that interview, Johnson explained that as part of his research he actually managed to finagle a visit to North Korea. He said his government minders maintained tight control over his itinerary, but they couldn't hide everything.

    As the World Watches, North Korean Atrocities Unfold


    There is some sad irony that the Kim Family Regime is causing the suffering of far more people than its nuclear weapons might ever effect.  While we focus on the dangers of its nuclear program we should not forget that the Kim Family Regime is arguably committing the worst human rights abuses in history and has been doing so for the past 60+ years.
    V/R
    Dave

    As the World Watches, North Korean Atrocities Unfold
    April 19, 2013 

    Dr. Lamont Colucci is an associate professor of politics at Ripon College, recent Fulbright scholar to the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, and author of The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How they Shape our Present and Future, among other books. You can find out more at lamontcolucci.com.

    A common mistake of the mainstream media is their penchant for tunnel vision. The bombings in Boston are a clear case where the news media give Americans the impression that the world has stopped on its axis, as focus centers on the terrorist attack in Massachusetts.

    This is also the case with stories concerning international affairs. The world media are so wrapped up in the nuclear question concerning North Korea, and worse, the potential for a "deal" with the boy dictator that we forget the horror inside that country.

    George Orwell wrote, "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever." The North Korean boot has been stamping on human faces since 1953, almost with impunity from the international community, craven for a deal, some deal, any deal, with the totalitarian leadership. The thinking among the establishment in the west is that any price is worth avoiding war, nuclear war in particular. The devil's bargain runs along the lines that as long as we can maintain an armistice (not peace) with the North Koreans, we can slowly work on human rights from afar.


    This "logic" has allowed a totalitarian nightmare to unfold that strikes at the very heart of western values, human rights, and human dignity.

    The most heinous example of these abuses is the North Korean camp system. The North Korean red dynasty established a caste system referred to as songbun. This classification of people based on ideological trustworthiness determines a person's fate from the time they are born.

    Those with lower songbun status are more likely to end up in the North Korean gulag system. It is estimated that at least 200,000 people languish in the death and labor camps of North Korea; their names, like Auschwitz, and Cabanatuan, should resonate with everyone, but do not. These camps, with names like Kaechon, Yodok, Pukchang, and Hoeryong, should inspire revulsion, disgust, and condemnation. These are places where torture, infanticide, starvation, and executions are daily occurrences.

    In an effort to outdo his Maoist and Leninist forebears, the Kim dynasty created a camp system whereby the so-called offender is not the only one condemned, not even the immediate family, but often the generation above and below. It is therefore common for those labeled with that totalitarian catch-all favorite of the Soviets and the Chinese, "enemies of the state," to be small children and elderly grandparents. The existence of these camps is unacceptable to anyone whose faith in God, and whose belief in human rights and human liberty exist in any way, shape, or form.
    (Continued at the link below)

    ​15 assumptions about the behavior of North Korea’s Kim Family Regime (KFR)

    These were written a couple of months ago (after the ROK/US Presidential Summit in June). ​15 assumptions about the behavior of North K...