My thoughts on the meeting:
Unconventional, experimental, top down diplomacy. Diplomacy and foreign relations via twitter and social media. Will it pay off? I hope so but I think it will only work if we understand the true nature of the Kim family regime and we do not take our eye off the ball - north Korea's political warfare strategy and long con.
I do not mean this to be disrespectful but I do think it is accurate to describe the "political philosophy" of this administration as one of "reality TV." I think it is simply a fact that the President's information and influence activities strategy is based on the principles of success for reality TV.
I do hope the President will take seriously the name "Freedom's Frontier" and will work to protect freedom and liberty everywhere throughout the world against our enemies who seek authoritarian government expansion and domination, to include China, Russia, Iran, and north Korea as well as the non-state violent extremist actors.
Of course the visit to JSA/Panmunjom was long planned. I am sure it was in the works from the time it was agreed that he would travel to South Korea after the G20. But it will be interesting to some day learn the history - was this meeting really based on a tweet and the President's last minute idea to tweet and invite Kim and did Kim accept it on almost the spur of the moment? If so it is also historic from the point of view that the north Korean bureaucracy/party apparatus worked as fast as it did.
It was a pretty amazing event. But we should remember that we conferred a high degree of legitimacy on Kim and this will be exploited by Kim's Propaganda and Agitation Department. Some commentators have also mentioned that by this action we just accepted north Korea as a nuclear state (I hope we are not doing that but that is the view of some pundits) I have to say that Kim looked the most at ease and relaxed both outside at the MDL and along conference row when they were talking to the press as well as at the sit down in the Peace House. He appeared to be in his element and seemed to be relishing the exposure of the press conference even more than POTUS. I wonder what was agreed to at the private session. Hopefully real working level negotiations will take place. It will be interesting to parse the statements from KCNA over the next few days to determine how Kim views this. I am sure it will be interpreted as a huge win and that Kim is in full control of the nuclear negotiations and is in full control of his political warfare strategy and long con that he is executing agains the ROK and the U.S.
We need to think about these five questions:
1. What do we want to achieve in Korea?
2. What is the acceptable durable political arrangement that will protect, serve, and advance US and ROK/US Alliance interests on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia?
3. Who does Kim fear more: The US or the Korean people in the north? (Note it is the Korean people armed with information knowledge of life in South Korea)
4. Do we believe that Kim Jong-un has abandoned the seven decades old strategy of subversion, coercion-extortion (blackmail diplomacy), and use of force to achieve unification dominated by the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State in order to ensure the survival of the mafia like crime family cult known as Kim family regime?
5. In support of that strategy do we believe that Kim Jong-un has abandoned the objective to split the ROK/US Alliance and get US forces off the peninsula? Has KJU given up its divide and conquer strategy - divide the alliance and conquer the ROK?
The answers to these questions should guide us to the strategy to solve the "Korea question" (para 60 of the Armistice) and lead to the only acceptable durable political arrangement: A secure, stable, economically vibrant, non-nuclear Korean peninsula unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people. In short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK)
A tough and comprehensive strategic approach, or “Plan B,” is required while the U.S. still pursues working level negotiations to give Kim the opportunity to make the right strategic decision to denuclearize. It must rest on a foundation of sustained pressure and military strength. Should Kim not make the right strategic decision the U.S. and ROK/U.S. Alliance will have the strategy and forces in place to dissuade the regime from continued development of its capabilities and sustain the deterrent posture to prevent war. Finally, this “Plan B” provides a long-term approach to support reaching what may be the only solution to the Korean security problem: a unified peninsula or a United Republic of Korea.
In short my assumptions are these:
Kim will not give up nuclear weapons unless he perceives the greater threat is from maintaining them – a threat that must come from within the regime.
The only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program and threats, as well as the crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north by the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime that rules the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State, is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea (UROK) that is secure and stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.
To that end we need a concept that is based on "Deter, Contain, Manage, and Press: " deter north Korean aggression and attack on the South, contain the north's illicit activities around the world to include cyber and proliferation activities, manage the conditions and sustain alliances in the region, and continue maximum pressure 2.0 to influence internal regime dynamics that result in the internal threats that will cause Kim Jong-un to make the right strategic choices.
This concept should employ five major lines of effort: Diplomatic Engagement, Military Strength to deter an attack and support strategic reassurance and strategic resolve, Sanctions Enforcement, Cyber Defense and Offense, and Information and Influence activities to influence the regime elite, 2d tier leadership, and general population.
In the end to counter Kim's political warfare strategy and long con we have to outplay him with our long game.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Congressman Mac Thornberry's conversation at the Foundation for defense of Democracies Center for Military and Political Power Conference. This 30 minute video is very much worth the time to watch.
He asked the key question that we should reflect upon deeply:
Do we protect and sustain the 70 Year Consensus? https://livestream.com/accounts/15228011/events/8665745/videos/191034324/player?width=640&height=360&enableInfo=true&defaultDrawer=&autoPlay=true&mute=false
at May 09, 2019
Monday, May 6, 2019
“North Korea: What are the Prospects for Regime Change from Within?” Political Defiance is Necessary in North Korea
My remarks presented at this event are below.
“North Korea: What are the Prospects for
Regime Change from Within?”
North Korea Freedom Week Defector Delegation
Special opening remarks by David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
WHEN: Friday, May 3, 2019, 12:00 noon - 2 pm
WHERE: 2168 Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill
Is there any hope that the Kim family’s 70 year plus reign of terror can be peacefully brought to an end by the very people who have escaped? North Korean defectors visiting Washington, D.C. for the 16th annual North Korea Freedom Week will answer that question and discuss their work aimed at bringing peaceful unification to Korea and the end of the Kim Jong Un regime. The presenters are all targeted by Kim Jong un for assassination: Kim Seong Min of Free North Korea Radio, Park Sang Hak of Fighters for Free North Korea, Kim Heung-Kwang of North Korean Intellectuals Solidarity, Hu Kwang il of the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea and Choi Jeung Hun of the North Korea People’s Liberation Front.
RSVP REQUIRED FOR ADMITTANCE (acceptances only): For more information, contact Suzanne here
Political Defiance is Necessary in North Korea
by David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Thank you Suzanne for the kind introduction.
It is truly an honor to be here with these brave Koreans from the north who have escaped from the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State we know as north Korea. Anyone who has survived the north and escaped has my deepest respect and admiration.
As a retired Special Forces soldier, I still believe in our motto – “de oppresso liber” – to free the oppressed. And more accurately what Green Berets try to do is to help the oppressed free themselves. I hope the day will soon come when 25 million Koreans in the north can throw off the yoke of oppression that is around their necks as a result of the actions of the mafia-like crime family cult we know as the Kim family regime.
It is my belief that the only way we will see an end to the nuclear and missile programs and the crimes against humanity being committed in the north is through the solution of the “Korea question” which was outlined in paragraph 60 of the 1953 Armistice. The military commanders called on the political leaders of all concerned parties to come together within 90 days of the signing to solve the Korea question which is the unnatural division of the peninsula. We have been waiting for nearly 66 years for this to happen.
As I study the security situation in Korea there are five fundamental questions that are on the forefront of my mind and should be considered as we try to understand the situation and chart a way ahead that will serve, protect, and advance US and ROK/US alliance interests and the interests of the 25 million Koreans suffering in the north. The first two are policy questions and the next three are intelligence questions that we must seek to understand and answer.
1. What do we want to achieve in Korea?
2. What is the acceptable durable political arrangement that will protect, serve, and advance US and ROK/US Alliance interests on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia?
3. Do we believe that Kim Jong-un will ever abandon the seven decades old strategy of subversion, coercion-extortion (blackmail diplomacy), and use of force to achieve unification dominated by the Guerrilla Dynasty and Gulag State in order to ensure the survival of the mafia like crime family cult known as the Kim family regime?
4. In support of that strategy do we believe that Kim Jong-un will abandon the objective to split the ROK/US Alliance and get US forces off the peninsula? Will KJU give up his divide and conquer strategy - divide the alliance and conquer the ROK?
I think the answer to both questions 3 and 4 is no. He will never give up his political warfare strategy that he is executing every day against the ROK, the US, and the international community.
5. The most important fifth and final question is: Who does Kim fear more: The US or the Korean people in the north? I think we all know the answer to this question due to the very nature of regime and its institutionalized system of oppression and tyrannical dictatorial rule. But it is the answer to this question that provides the way forward to solve the Korea question. While the solution may come as a result of war or regime collapse the best way is for it to come from within – from within the 25 million Koreans living in the north.
The answers to these questions should guide us to the strategy to solve the "Korea question" and lead to the only acceptable durable political arrangement: A secure, stable, economically vibrant, non-nuclear Korean peninsula unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people. In short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK).
As we consider the threats from the north, to include its nuclear and conventional forces and its global illicit activities from counterfeiting, drug trafficking, and slave labor to cyber attacks, the most important and overlooked one is the north’s use of subversion to undermine the legitimacy of the ROK. The regime has committed tremendous effort to trying to subvert the South and at the same time has developed the most sophisticated system to prevent internal subversion in the north. It fears subversive activities against the regime most of all. And the most subversive activity comes in the form of information and influence activities.
What is subversion?
- The undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution.
- As in: "the ruthless subversion of democracy" versus “the effective subversion of a dictatorship.”
At the very root of the problem Koreans are in an Ideological War – which really is about the choice of values the Korean people in the north and South want to live by:
· Shared ROK/US Values:
o Freedom and individual liberty, liberal democracy, free market economy, and human rights
· Kim family regime (KFR) “values”
o Juche/Kimilsungism, Socialist Workers Paradise, Songun, Songbun, Byungjin, and denial of human rights to sustain the KFR in power
The choice between these values belongs to all Koreans.
I am a great fan of Gene Sharp and Robert Helvey. Gene Sharp wrote the seminal work “From Dictatorship to Democracy.” One of the most important concepts is Political Defiance which was coined by Robert Helvey. “Political defiance” is used principally to describe action by populations to regain from dictatorships control over governmental institutions by relentlessly attacking their sources of power and deliberately using strategic planning and operations to do so. This is one of the most important lines of effort to solving the Korea question.
There are four paths to a United Republic of Korea.
1. The first path is Peaceful – this is most unlikely but counterintuitively the one the ROK can and must prepare for with the help of the US and international community. It is the morally right focus and should be the foundation for all overt policy development and planning and in fact has been the alliance vision for the past three ROK and two US Presidents. I would argue that everything planned for peaceful unification – economic integration, political integration, cultural integration, and even military integration will be necessary in any of the other three paths. Unification, whether peaceful or otherwise, must result in a United Republic of Korea with no traces left of the Kim family regime.
2. The second path is War – It is the fastest way to unification as it will result in the defeat of the nKPA and destruction of the Kim family regime infrastructure. But it is too costly in blood and treasure; therefore, we must work to deter war.
3. The third path is regime collapse – while this might seem like a good path it is also fraught with danger, complexity, uncertainty, and most likely some level of conflict up to and including war.
4. The fourth path is the outlier but may be the best answer and that is regime removal and replacement with a political power who will seek peaceful unification to create a United Republic of Korea. The most important tool in developing the political defiance that can lead to this outcome is information and influence activities.
An aggressive information and influence activities campaign must be sustained over time. In the US we describe it this way: Information and Influence Activities comprise “the integration of designated information related capabilities in order to synchronize themes, messages, and actions with operations to inform United States and global audiences, influence foreign audiences, and affect adversary and enemy decision making.
In the context of north Korea we need to influence three broad target audiences: the regime elite and its decision making but also more critically to undermine regime legitimacy. Next is the second tier leadership – those leaders outside the regime who possess power – namely military power such as the division, corps, and army commanders. We must remove their will to both attack the South and suppress the Korean people in the north. The third are the Korean people themselves who must be supported as they develop and execute political defiance against the regime and who must be prepared for the establishment of a United Republic of Korea. In short, we must attack the legitimacy of the regime, remove the will to oppress the Korean people by the second tier leadership, and prepare the Korean people for political defiance and unification.
Of course, Clausewitz said “in war everything is simple but even the simplest thing is hard.” We should keep in mind this is an ideological war that is fought with information and influence. It is easy for me to say and describe this, but it is complex, uncertain, and hard in execution. Fortunately, we have experts in this process who can lead us in the hard work. These heroes, who have escaped from the oppression in the north, know what it takes to influence their fellow Koreans. We should listen to their wisdom but more importantly we must support their efforts. I pledge to do so and I urge all of you to do the same.
David Maxwell is a retired U.S, Army Special Forces Colonel and a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He also contributes to FDD’s Center for Military and Political Power. Follow him on Twitter at @davidmaxwell161. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CMPP. FDD is a Washington-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
at May 06, 2019
Thursday, April 25, 2019
An American Way of Political Warfare
Approved for public release, distribution is unlimited
UNITED STATES ARMY
SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND
SOF Support to Political Warfare
10 March 2015
This white paper presents the concept of SOF Support to Political Warfare to leaders and
policymakers as a dynamic means of achieving national security goals and objectives.
Embracing the whole-of-government framework with significant targeted military contributions,
Political Warfare enables America’s leaders to undertake proactive strategic initiatives to shape
environments, preempt conflicts, and significantly degrade adversaries’ hybrid and asymmetric
Applied at the regional or global level, Political Warfare emerges from a persistent and
purposeful synergy of diplomatic, economic, informational, and military efforts in unified
campaigns where military contributions support the attainment of broader strategic end states.
Taking advantage of skills, methods, and approaches resident in Special Operations Forces
(SOF), Political Warfare's military aspects integrate counter-unconventional warfare (C-UW)
and unconventional warfare (UW), foreign internal defense (FID), Security Sector Assistance
(SSA), and Information and Influence Activities (IIA), closely calibrated with and in support of
those of other government departments.
Political Warfare is a strategy suited to achieve U.S. national objectives through reduced
visibility in the international geo-political environment, without committing large military forces.
Likewise, Political Warfare can function as a critical, integrating element of U.S. national power
against non-state adversaries such as the current Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Most often, the Department of Defense role in Political Warfare will be one of supporting other
U.S. Government agencies that are more likely to lead strategy and planning development.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
A 42 minute video well worth watching on north Korea. It covers a number of important issues. From Department 39 and its support to the Royal Court economy and the nuclear and missile programs to life in Pyongyang among the elite (and the scientists). It covers cyber, overseas labor (example of Mongolia but also mentioned Kuwait and Poland), chemical weapons, the nuclear facility in Syria built with north Korean assistance, interview with Hugh Griffiths of the UN Panel of Experts.
When discussing the regime's global illicit activities the question was asked if they are conducted in the US. The respondent said not really except for cyber. The quote of the day is "We do everything we can to relieve the US of its money."
Korea watchers will recognize our good friend who used to work at Department 39 taking care of Kim Jong-il's money. Since he was not named in the film I will not name jim but all Korea watchers will recognize him and he provides excellent insights (in English) on Department 39 and the Royal Court economy.
The video can be accessed at this link: https://www.dw.com/cda/
North Korea - All the dictator's men
North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un has not reined in its nuclear program, despite a number of UN resolutions. How did he manage that and who are the men who have helped Kim Jong Un keep his dreams of reaching nuclear power status alive?
North Korea has not reined in its nuclear program, despite a number of UN resolutions that have tried to force it to do so. So how has the isolated country kept the program going despite sanctions? Every year Pyongyang sends millions of North Korean workers abroad, selling their services to over 40 countries around the world. And their salaries flow directly into Kim’s treasury. The only ones who know exactly how the system works are the men who have helped the North Korean government carry through the program for years. A film team spent years researching these men and their secrets - from bankers and diplomats to the laborers and specialists who worked abroad and whose wages flowed into the regime's coffers. Come and meet all the dictator’s men.
Friday, December 21, 2018
The 130 page report can be downloaded here: https://www.hrnk.org/
Let me say that anyone who will work in north Korea with the Korean people outside of Pyongyang must read this report. If you are going to be inspecting nuclear sites or conducting remains recovery operations or conducting operations after conflict or after regime collapse you should read this report and take it with you when you deploy (but only if the Kim family regime is no longer in power - do not take it to north Korea under any circumstances while Kim Jong-un and the regime remain in power). Every Special Operations soldier - SF, Civil Affairs, and Psychological Operations - should commit this to memory. Every NGO and aid worker should commit this memory. Anyone planning operations in the human domain in north Korea should commit this to memory. And anyone who wishes to help the Republic of Korea achieve unification ( A United Republic of Korea (UROK)) should read this report as it will provide insight and assistance on how to overcome the indoctrination and reintegrate the Korean people living in the north back into the real world. I hope that the ROK Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Unification and the Korean Institute of National Unification will translate this into Korea so Korean soldiers and Korean NGOs can benefit from the tremendous research that went into writing this report.
Below the summary are some excerpts of my remarks I provided at the National Press Club when Robert Collins' report was presented by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. I will try to revise my remarks and write a review of the report. But until then please know that I strongly recommend this report.
Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea is a comprehensive study of how North Korea’s Kim regime denies human rights for each and every citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In doing so, this report examines human rights denial policies and practices. Local institutions are responsible for this denial at the schools, housing units, workplaces, and beyond. To justify this political approach towards shaping North Korean society, the North’s Party-state specifically focuses on loyalty to North Korea’s Supreme Leader and the KWP by incorporating regime-centered ideology into every fabric of socio-political life through these local institutions.
Along with his previous seminal works Marked for Life (Songbun) and Pyongyang Republic, this trilogy forms the basis for understanding the human domain in the north and for the necessary area studies that must be conducted by everyone engaged in NGO work in the north, those who might have to conduct military operations, the intelligence community that is charged with making sense of what is happening inside the north and negotiators who not only must consider the nuclear threats but also the human rights abuses as part of a holistic negotiations strategy. I especially recommend this to journalists who need to understand what life is like and how human rights are denied in north Korea so that they can accurately write about the conditions and horrors that are commonly experienced by so many Koreans living in the north every single day of their lives.
The penultimate point I would like to make is that this report lays out all the human rights violations of the regime. They are so numerous. But one crime really stands out to me that is perhaps the most egregious of all. The basic family unit and structure is what is most under attack by the Party-state. The fact that the Korean people in the north, children and parents alike, cannot enjoy the wonders, the love, and the protection of family surely has to be a crime against humanity. It saddens me that these words are in one of the most popular children’s songs:
Our Father is Marshal Kim Il-sungOur home is the bosom of the partyWe are one big familyWe have nothing to envy in the whole wide world.
Finally, A key question for all of us is when the Korean people in the north are freed how will a United Republic of Korea undo the indoctrination of the Korean people that has occurred over the past 70 years. This report will contribute to the search for the ways to do that.
Yes, I am thinking beyond the Kim family regime. My pessimistic assessment is that there will be no end to the nuclear program nor the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity by what we know as the mafia-like crime family cult called the Kim family regime until there is a unified Korea. The Republic of Korea needs to prepare for the future of a United Republic of Korea and one of the most critical aspects of that preparation is understanding the plight of the 25 million Koreans living in the north. This report makes a critical contribution to that understanding. I commend it to every person who thinks about the Korea question.
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