Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chinese firm ordered to halt coal trade with N. Korea: state media

This could be a very significant action in conjunction with China's action on banks and north Korean funds.  Has China reached the tipping point with north Korea and is it not going to accept the regime's provocative  behavior any longer?  Is China saying enough is enough?  Is this a reaction to the potential "loss" of South Korea.  Some say President Park put all her north Korea eggs in China's basket believing China could influence north Korea on the nuclear issue.  That it has failed to do so has resulted in the ROK cutting of Kaesong and now seemingly willing to accept deployment of THAAD to the peninsula.  It appears that the ROK is going to snub China on THAAD and perhaps that will influence other China-ROK relations.

But with the funding and now energy/coal action it seems that China may be supporting a strategic strangulation strategy.  Do they want to go all the way?  Does anyone know where Kim Jong Nam is right now?  Is China preparing him in the wings for something to follow or is he still hanging out wanting to go to Disneyland?

Also this is an interesting quote.  Is it a translation issue? A missprint? A misspeak? Or a freudian slip?  

   "We all know that the U.S. Security Council is deliberating a new resolution. As a responsible country, we will strictly follow the resolution," Hua said.

(LEAD) Chinese firm ordered to halt coal trade with N. Korea: state media

2016/02/24 18:43
(ATTN: ADDS China's foreign ministry reaction in last 3 paras)
BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- A Chinese company in the northeastern border city of Dandong has been ordered by China's commerce ministry to halt its coal trade with North Korea starting next month, according to a state-run Chinese newspaper Wednesday.
Citing an unnamed Chinese businessman who operates a coal business with North Korea, the state-run Global Times newspaper said the order appeared to be linked to a measure against North Korea's nuclear test last month.
"A relevant department of the Commerce Ministry and the General Administration of Customs issued the order and, as far as I understand, the Liaoning provincial government received the information," the newspaper quoted the Chinese businessman as saying.
The report, however, did not identify both the businessman and the Chinese company.
Dandong is a border town near North Korea, where more than 70 percent of bilateral trade is conducted.
Regarding the report, China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that she was "not aware of the specific situation."

   "We all know that the U.S. Security Council is deliberating a new resolution. As a responsible country, we will strictly follow the resolution," Hua said.
In Washington on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks and made progress in negotiations to adopt a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests.

Monday, February 22, 2016

U.S. to fund North Korean groups working toward regime change

Good news here.  Just hope we do not leave people hanging as in Syria and I hope we are in lock-step with our ROK allies.

I sure wish State had an Ambassador for Unconventional Warfare to complement its Ambassador for Counterterrorism.  I would direct him or her to apply the playbook outlined by George Kennan for political warfare here (  and apply it to the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime.  The would be a great first project for State's Ambassador for UW.

Perhaps now everyone is coming to the conclusion that it is time to help the Korean people from and still living in the north to help themselves.  Will we decide to provide concrete support to resistance?

U.S. to fund North Korean groups working toward regime change

  • Feb. 22, 2016 
  •  1 min read 
  •  original
SEOUL, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has promised substantial financial support for North Korean defector organizations in South Korea, sending a strong message to Pyongyang as North Korea continues to crack down on migrants.
Defector representatives who had attended the closed-door meeting held in January at the State Department said Washington is to commit significant funds to defector organizations that can work toward internal regime change in the North, Yonhap reported Sunday.
Projects that meet U.S. requirements include information dispatches to North Korea – which has usually taken place across the demilitarized zone with helium balloon launches. The balloons typically carried flash drives with information denouncing the Kim regime, as well as South Korean media content and entertainment.
Other groups that could get funding include clandestine activist networks operating inside North Korea and organizations that promote North Korea human rights issues.
The new policy is to send a strong message to the North – that the United States is separating its target of the regime from the welfare of ordinary North Koreans, who are often susceptible to human rights abuses.
But South Korean analyst Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies said working toward regime change or reform through defector organizations won't be easy, and "change will take time."
North Korea has increased border controls since Kim Jong Un fully assumed power, and the average inflow of North Koreans into South Korea has dropped sharply from an annual average of 2,500 to about 1,000.
Sources on North Korea also told Radio Free Asia that Pyongyang has launched a propaganda war against defections – a sign that the regime is struggling with the rising number of people leaving the country.
Jiro Ishimaru, the Japanese editor of Asia Press, a North Korea-focused news service, said North Korea recently aired footage of what it claims are images of North Korean defectors starving on the streets of South Korea.
The propaganda was aimed at discouraging defections, and according to eyewitnesses, drew tears from some North Koreans who lack information outside government propaganda.
Other spectators, however, said they knew the images were lies, according to sources.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Breaking The North Korean Information Blockade

A comprehensive information and influence campaign is one of the most important things the ROKG supported by the ROK/US Alliance can do to prepare for unification.  We have wasted the past 20 years not doing this effectively as I have argued here ( in 1996 and here ( in 2004.  We have not taken this seriously enough and we have not invested the intellectual capital, time, and resources to do this and do it well.  But it is not too late to start especially because there are so many more opportunities to achieve effects and influence the multiple target audiences from the elite to the second tier leaders to the Korean people living and suffering in the north.

Breaking The North Korean Information Blockade

Updated February 21, 201610:05 AM ETPublished February 21, 20167:57 AM ET

Visitors look at the military wire fences at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Feb. 14, 2016.
Visitors look at the military wire fences at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Feb. 14, 2016.
Lee Jin-man/AP
North Korea is considered the most reclusive country in the world. Outsiders know very little about what happens inside the Hermit Kingdom.
North Koreans, in turn, know very little about the outside world. The regime of dictator Kim Jong Un bans nearly all forms of outside media. North Koreans are only exposed to what their government tells them, giving a them skewed view of their own country.
A group of nonprofits in the U.S. is trying to change that with USB drives. They are asking Americans to donate thumb drives, which are then loaded with Western TV and movies and smuggled into North Korea.
The idea for Flash Drives for Freedom was started by the Human Rights Foundation. Sharon Stratton is the U.S. program officer with the North Korean Strategy Center, one of the groups involved. She spoke with NPR's Rachel Martin about what goes on the flash drives and what the risks are for the people involved.
(Continued at this link)

U.S. Agreed to North Korea Peace Talks Before Latest Nuclear Test

I find this more than a little incredible.  First, I although I find much with which to disagree regarding foreign policy and national security with the administration I am very skeptical that the President and anyone in the administration would have such a lack of understanding of the nature of the Kim Family Regime or its strategy.  A few things we should keep in mind in addition to the fact that north Korea is not Iran and if anyone thinks that we could negotiate with north Korea as we just did with Iran then he or she fails to recall the history of the Agreed Framework.

First, the US has not real standing to negotiate a peace treaty.  Our position should be that a peace treaty to end the Korean War has to be negotiated between north and South Korea.  Although we fought in the Korean War we did so under UN authorities and in fact the Armistice in 1953 was negotiated between the north Koreans, the Chinese Peoples' Volunteers, and the United Nations. The US and the ROK are not signatories to the Armistice (the US commander signed for the UN). The US can of course enter into negotiations and make security guarantees in return for the dismantling of the north's nuclear program but it should not enter into a peace treaty to end the war, especially if not done in complete lock-step with the ROK.

We should also understand why the north wants a peace treaty with the US.  It wants to split the ROK/US alliance and get US forces off the peninsula so that it will be able to reunify the peninsula by force. As far fetched as that might sound to some the north's strategy has been well known and articulated for decades.  And of course negotiating a separate peace with the US also supports another key element of the regime's strategy which is to split the ROK/US alliance.  I have to believe that there are those in the administration who know and understand this which is why I am very skeptical of this supposed offer for negotiations.  No one can possibly think that the Iran model can be applied to north Korea now.  As I have said traditional or conventional international relations theoretical approaches are not applicable to the Kim Family Regime.

However, if this is true and did in fact occur then we should take some solace in knowing that we can confirm the nature of the Kim Family Regime and its strategy.  The engagers and those who believe that if we simply need to give the north what they want and the regime will then denuclearize and live peacefully should no longer be living under the illusion or delusion that the north can act as a responsible member of the international community.  

On the other hand we should also realize that if this did occur it confirms what many have thought.  This is calling the north's bluff.  By committing to peace negotiations and if a peace treaty could by some miracle be concluded, the north's very legitimacy would be undercut.  The north actually does not want nor can it have a peace treaty with the US because it is the US as an enemy that provides the legitimacy and rationale for the regime and its oppression of the Korean people living in the north.  More importantly it is the justification for the large military and if there was no need for a large military the regime could be threatened with collapse.  We should note that it is the coherency and support of the military that is one of the two key elements that prevent regime collapse, the other being the ability of the regime (through the Party) to govern from the center (Pyongyang).  The loss of military support and  coherency would cause regime collapse.  Therefore the regime cannot enter into peace negotiations.

So the bottom line is if this is a true report then someone in the administration either does not really understand the regime ORthe administration has actually undertaken one of the best deception operations to call the north's bluff and to ensure the US has the moral high ground to implement the toughest sanctions regime and ultimately change the US strategy from simply deterrence and defense and trying to eliminate the north's nuclear program to one that focuses on what comes next after the Kim Family Regime.  That of course is unification because as I have said many times, it is my belief that we will never see an end to the nuclear and missile programs and the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime except through unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea (UROK). This action by the administration may have been to give the north one last chance and now we have complete justification to move beyond our current strategic paralysis and focus on the only way out of this complex situation.  We will have to see the next steps in the US and the ROK/US strategy to determine whether the administration really does understand the Kim Family Regime and if it has taken perhaps one of the more sophisticated foreign policy actions in the last 8 years.  

U.S. Agreed to North Korea Peace Talks Before Latest Nuclear Test

Pyongyang rejected condition that nuclear arms would be on the agenda—and then carried out atomic test

ALASTAIR GALE in Seoul and
CAROL E. LEE in Washington
Feb. 21, 2016 12:33 p.m. ET
Days before North Korea’s latest nuclear-bomb test, the Obama administration secretly agreed to talks to try to formally end the Korean War, dropping a longstanding condition that Pyongyang first take steps to curtail its nuclear arsenal.
Instead the U.S. called for North Korea’s atomic-weapons program to be simply part of the talks. Pyongyang declined the counter-proposal, according to U.S. officials familiar with the events. Its nuclear test on Jan. 6 ended the diplomatic gambit.
The episode, in an exchange at the United Nations, was one of several unsuccessful attempts that American officials say they made to discuss denuclearization with North Korea during President Barack Obama’s second term while also negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program.
Mr. Obama has pointed to the Iran deal to signal to North Korea that he is open to a similar track with the regime of Kim Jong Un. But the White House sees North Korea as far more opaque and uncooperative. The latest fruitless exchanges typified diplomacy between the U.S. and Pyongyang in recent years.
Since taking power at the end of 2011, Mr. Kim has stepped up the North’s demands for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, 63 years after it ended with an armistice. Many analysts see the move as an attempt to force the removal of the U.S. military in the South. The U.S. insists denuclearization must have priority, and said that has to be part of any peace talks, even while dropping the precondition that North Korea first take steps that show a willingness to give up its nuclear program.
(continued at this link)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Anonymous Soldiers: How Terrorism Undermined Britain's Rule Over Palestine

Spend an hour with Professor Bruce Hoffman and listen to him talk about his book and the history of terrorism in Palestine.  There are some real gems in this presentation on terrorism and counterterrorism - specifically how the UK responded to Jewish and Arab terrorism from 1917 to 1947 and why was the British Mandate was destined to fail.  I strongly recommend listening to this (and not just because he is my boss).  It is a fascinating historical presentation.  Stay tuned for his explanation of his "Eureka moment" at the end and also note the "Facebook" that existed at the time.

Note also his discussion of terrorism as a successful strategy.

Anonymous Soldiers: How Terrorism
Undermined Britain's Rule Over Palestine

Published on Feb 18, 2016
Dr. Bruce Hoffman, Director of the Georgetown University Security Studies Program, presents "Anonymous Soldiers: How Terrorism Undermined Britain's Rule Over Palestine" at the CSS Lunchtime Series, on 18 February, 2016.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The North Korean Threat: Where Do We Go From Here?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stands and applauds. REUTERS

The North Korean Threat: Where Do We Go From Here?

After its latest test of a long-range rocket, the nuclear threat from North Korea has re-emerged as a major global challenge

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By  on Feb 12, 2016 at 11:45 AM
Here is the bottom line: The only way that we will have an end to the nuclear and missile programs as well as the human atrocities and crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime is through a unification process that leads to a united republic of Korea.
That is a tall order. Unification is the only way to settle the “Korea Question.” Unification will be hard and will most likely be achieved after the expenditure of much blood and treasure from the Republic of Korea, the United States and regional powers. It will be complex because the path to attain it is uncertain and fraught with danger.
There are four paths to unificationpeacefulregime collapsewar or internal regime change that results in new leadership that seeks to peacefully unify. Each of these paths conflicts with the single vital national interest of North Korea: survival of the Kim Family Regime. Everything the regime does is focused on this objective. It overrides all other considerations to include the welfare of the Korean people living in the north. It also explains why the North Korean nuclear and missile programs are so important and why the regime will never negotiate them away.
The regime believes in nuclear weapons for two critically important reasons. First, that they deter attack from the South and the U.S. The regime believes that the U.S. will never attack another country with nuclear weapons. It looks to the examples of Iraq and Libya and what happens to a regime that does not have nuclear weapons (and the Libyan example is especially important because Qaddafi gave up his weapons willingly). The second reason is that nuclear weapons support its overall objective of keeping the regime alive. Blackmail diplomacy is simply the use of threats and actual provocations to gain political and economic concessions. A nuclear weapon is the largest threat in its arsenal. This has been a key element of its strategy for nearly seven decades and it has been employed regularly since 1994 with great effect.
Now in 2016 the regime has conducted its fourth nuclear test and a third attempted satellite launch. It has restarted its nuclear reactor and this will allow it to increase its plutonium stockpiles. There is speculation that a fifth nuclear test may occur. The regime follows what it calls the byungjin line—the simultaneous pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic development. The North Korean constitution states that it is a nuclear-armed nation. It should be clear even to the casual observer that the regime has no intention of giving up its nuclear program. The ROK, the U.S. and the international community have attempted a broad range of actions from unreciprocated engagement to hardline policies to the current strategy of ignoring the regime with the unofficial title of “strategic patience.” We have been unable to co-opt or coerce the regime because of its belief that nuclear weapons are key to its survival. At the same time some 25 million Koreans living in the north suffer unbelievable hardships, including many abuses outlined in the United Nations Commission of Inquiry report on human rights in North Korea.
Why does North Korea appear to be accelerating its provocative actions? There are myriad reasons. First, it may simply be necessary to test its weapons and missile delivery systems to advance their programs to the next level. It may be that these tests are focused on internal audiences, both the elite and the general population, to reinforce the North Korean narrative that it is a power to be reckoned with in the international community and that it must defend itself from external aggression. This could be part of Kim Jong-un’s consolidation of power.
Another reason for the recent provocations may be that the regime is trying to establish a “new normal” for its nuclear posture during the next two years as both the U.S. and ROK transition to new administrations in 2017 and 2018. Just as it executed what some call “creeping normalcy” in the 1970’s and 1980’s when it repositioned its conventional military forces, increasing its frontline forces to 70 percent over time, this could be their attempt to conduct a “nuclear creeping normalcy” with the intent to be recognized as a nuclear power when the new administrations come into office.
(Continued at the link below)

Monday, February 15, 2016

High-Priority City: The ‘Republic’ of Pyongyang

This is probably the best summary of Robert Collins' new report from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).  The report can be downloaded directly at this link:

The video presentation from which this report was derived is at this link:

This is one of the most important reports that helps policy makers, strategists, planners, scholars, researchers, human rights activists, and students truly understand the nature of the Kim Family Regime (KFR)  (understand as in the Frank Hoffman recommended principle of war understanding - the deep understanding of the culture, politics, security apparatus, economy, etc).  One of the things that makes this report so valuable and credible is that Bob Collins was able to not only read primary source documents in Korean that were smuggled out of north Korea he conducted in depth interviews with north Koreans in their language.  He has arguably interviewed more north Koreans in their language than any other American in or out of government.

If you could only read one book on north Korea this would be it.  Those who wish predict or wish for regime collapse would do well to remember the definition we that developed when writing the first plans for north Korean instability and collapse in the 1990s:  regime collapse will occur when the KFR is no longer able to govern (through the party) from the center (Pyongyang) combined with the loss of coherency and support of the military.

High-Priority City: The ‘Republic’ of Pyongyang

The North Korean regime prioritizes the distribution of food, housing, and health care in favor of the residents of the capital city while the countryside languishes

By Epoch Times | February 14, 2016
Last Updated: February 14, 2016 11:57 pm
North Korean soldiers march in Pyongyang in July 2013.  (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korean soldiers march in Pyongyang in July 2013. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is regarded as the most oppressive political system in the world. Isolated from the rest of the world, with malnutrition of the general public, slave labor, and the absence of individual rights and freedoms—North Korea lies ranked at the bottom of nations, where the human misery is unfathomable.
How does the current regime under Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un maintain social control and perpetuate itself? In a report released on Feb. 10 at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), author Robert Collins has provided an inside look at the DPRK, a comprehensive analysis of North Korea’s unique totalitarian control system.
In “Pyongyang Republic: North Korea’s Capital of Human Rights Denial,” Collins explains the system of sanctions and incentives that maintain the Kim Dynasty rule, culling data from a vast number of sources, including his own interviews for over 30 years of defectors in their native Korean language. All conclusions are backed up by 510 footnotes. The 177-page report is sponsored by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).
The power structure of the country is wholly centralized. At the top of the pyramid is the Supreme Leader and people closest to him. Geographically, the capital city, Pyongyang, is “the power center of the Kim family regime,” says Collins.
(Gary Feuerberg/ Epoch Times)
(Gary Feuerberg/ Epoch Times)

The people who are most important for the Kim family political control are predominately located in Pyongyang. The Korean Workers’ Party, all government and security agencies, and the military are run out of the capital city. It’s where Koreans enjoy the most privileges, the best food and housing, health care and schools, and culture, with Pyongyang’s gyms, museums, playgrounds, and exhibition halls. Naturally, North Koreans want to live in Pyongyang.
(Continued at the link below)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pyongyang Republic: North Korea’s Capital of Human Rights Denial

The report can be downloaded here.

The video can be seen at this  link:

Pyongyang Republic: North Korea’s Capital of Human Rights Denial
Date and Time:
February 09, 2016 12:30 pm ~ February 09, 2016 01:30 pm
AEI Twelfth Floor 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Robert Collins, Nicholas Eberstadt, Helen-Louise Hunter, David Maxwell, Greg Scarlatoiu
Host Organization:

Robert Collins
Author, Pyongyang Republic: North Korea's Capital of Human Rights Denial

Nicholas Eberstadt
Board Member, HRNK
Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, AEI

Helen-Louise Hunter
Board Member and Executive Committee, HRNK

David S. Maxwell
Board Member, HRNK
Associate Director, Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program,
Georgetown University

Greg Scarlatoiu
Executive Director, HRNK

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