Friday, November 14, 2014

"Unification Possible Once N. Korea's Human Rights Conditions are Improved"

I was a moderator of the second panel on unification at this conference yesterday.  Following the article are my prepared remarks that I used to introduce and conclude the panel.

"Unification Possible Once N. Korea's Human Rights Conditions are Improved"

Write : 2014-11-14 13:12:43 Update : 2014-11-14 17:09:00
"Unification Possible Once N. Korea's Human Rights Conditions are Improved"
Anchor: At a forum in Washington on Thursday, a key official of a South Korean presidential advisory group said the two Koreas' unification is only possible once the human rights conditions in North Korea are improved. He stressed that the current Park Geun-hye administration is more determined to address the issue than past governments.
Our Bae Joo-yon has more.

Report: A key official of a South Korean presidential advisory group has stressed that the Park Geun-hye administration’s approach to North Korea’s human rights violations differs from that of previous governments.

Hyun Kyung-dae, the executive vice-chairperson of the National Unification Advisory Council, made the remark Thursday in Washington at the Korea-U.S. forum on peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Noting that previous South Korean governments have been more concerned about straining relations with Pyongyang, Hyung said past administrations have taken a “half-hearted” attitude toward the North’s crimes against humanity.

[Sound bite: Hyun Kyung-dae, executive vice-chairperson of the National Unification Advisory Council (Korean)]
"The mankind's universal value of human rights is distorted by claims that managing the divided Korean Peninsula and improving inter-Korean ties are more important than North Korea's human rights."
With about 200 former and incumbent government officials, experts, academics and politicians attending, Hyun said a new resolution on the North’s human rights conditions will soon be passed at the United Nations.

He added that the UN move will serve as a landmark in efforts to improve the North’s human rights conditions.

Citing a survey that found the will of the North Korean people toward unification to be stronger than ever, Hyun said restoring their human rights will lead to a democratic government in the communist nation. He added that the establishment of such a government would then lead to the unification of the two Koreas.

Also at the forum on peaceful unification, U.S. experts on Northeast Asia, including researcher Bruce Klingner of The Heritage Foundation, said there is a need for the U.S. to further turn up its pressure on the North. In particular, the experts voiced the need for the U.S. government to take steps toward individuals, banks and government agencies that are linked to the North’s illegal activities.

Early next month, South Korea’s unification minister as well as members of the government’s unification preparatory committee will visit the U.S. and discuss the North’s human rights issue.
Bae Joo-yon, KBS World Radio News.

Talking Points, November 13, 2014, NUAC
1.  Thesis:  The only long term solution to the north Korean nuclear problem and the human rights atrocities being committed by the Kim Family Regime is unification of the Korean peninsula.  Given President Park’s trustpolitikand Dresden Initiative it is time for the US to embrace Korean unification and offer full support to the ROK to achieve unification.  The is the only way to break out of the strategic paralysis of strategic patience.

2.  A proposed strategic end state for the Korean peninsula:

A stable, secure, peaceful, economically vibrant, non-nuclear peninsula, reunified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.

3.  Four Paths to Unification.

            a.  The ideal path to peaceful reunification is built on respect, reconciliation, reform, rebuilding, and reunification (R5). The operative word here is ideal. Some will immediately discount this as a mere dream; however, such a path can form the basis of a strategy and supporting campaign plan that provide multiple benefits even if peaceful reunification is not achieved in the near-term. 

            b. Bottom-up internal resistance to the regime appears to be growing among parts of North Korea’s population and even within the periphery of the political elite and military. This could be the second path to reunification.  Such resistance should be monitored, assessed, understood, and possibly supported, to include assistance through an unconventional warfare campaign led by the Republic of Korea.

            c. The third path to reunification could be the collapse of the Kim dynasty. Regime collapse is defined as the loss of central governing effectiveness of the regime, combined with the loss of support and coherency of the military and security services.  Although bottom-up internal resistance could lead to regime collapse, the regime’s demise is more likely to result from its inability to support the military and security services.

            d. The fourth, worst case path to reunification is through war. First and foremost, the ROK–U.S. alliance must deter war, but if deterrence fails, then the alliance will win decisively and bring an end to the Kim regime. As in the case of regime collapse, post-conflict stabilization operations can and should be shifted toward the ideal path to reunification.

6.  While the ideal path to reunification is the peaceful one, the other three paths of internal resistance, regime collapse, or war could all result in significant levels of conflict.  However, all the planning and preparation for peaceful reunification that occurs prior to conflict will support post-conflict activities, and as soon as conditions warrant, the Republic of Korea can return to the peaceful path.

4. Conclusion.  The U.S. has practical and moral interests in supporting reunification of the peninsula.  While the past sixty years have shown the importance of deterrent military forces, it should be recognized that the status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely.  Furthermore, only reunification will produce an acceptable security situation in Northeast Asia.

Most importantly, reunification provides a long-term policy and strategy focus that can cure the current strategic paralysis that exists particularly with U.S. policy vis-à-vis North Korea. Both the ROK and U.S. presidents have stated that peaceful reunification is the desired end state for the ROK–U.S. alliance. Whether this is achieved through peaceful means will be up to the Kim regime. However, planning and conducting the necessary preparations as part of a comprehensive strategy can provide the alliance with the flexibility to address and perhaps mitigate the effects of any contingency. Regardless of the contingencies that occur, the alliance can remain focused on the only end state that will end the North’s nuclear program and stop the horrific human rights atrocities and crimes against humanity that have occurred there for the past sixty-plus years.

President Park has provided the opportunity for the alliance to develop a long-term, comprehensive strategy with balance and coherency among ends, ways, and means, coupled with the agility to follow any path to reunification: the ideal or straight line path, the path of internal resistance and regime change, collapse of the Kim family regime, or the worst case of conflict and war.  We cannot predict what will happen in the future, but we can devise a strategy that focuses on achieving the desired alliance end state that will allow the diplomatic and military instruments of power to address any contingency on the path to reunification.

I have one challenge for all policy makers, strategists and planners who focus on Korea security issues:  Ask yourself if the strategy, policy, plan or action is contributing to preparation for Korean unification.  This should be in the forefront of thinking about the Korean peninsula.

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