Muzzling Jihad Watch
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | July 6, 2007
I began getting the emails several days ago: Jihad Watch readers telling me that they had been accustomed to reading the site at work, but now their employer had blocked access to the Jihad Watch site on company computers. Many reported that the ban on Jihad Watch was explained with the assertion that Jihad Watch contained “hate speech.” This was true even in Federal Government offices. And it wasn’t only the Feds. Jihad Watch was blocked, readers informed me, on the computers of the State of Connecticut; the City of Chicago; Bank of America; Fidelity Investments; Site Coach; GE IT; JPMorgan Chase; Defense Finance and Accounting Services; Johnson Controls, Inc. IT; Boeing; Tenet Hospitals in North Carolina; Provisio; the Sabre Group TSG; Wachovia bank; and others: several people have written in to tell me that as of this week they can no longer access Jihad Watch at work, but haven’t told me where they work. This was not a simple case of employers being annoyed with their workers lying down on the job and spending time reading Jihad Watch instead of working. This is an attempt to silence us, as an email from a federal employee made abundantly clear when he noted which sites were blocked – and which sites weren’t: I wanted to drop a line about the inability to access JihadWatch at work. I work for the Fed Gov. Three weeks ago, Memri was blocked. Two weeks ago HotAir, which I used to look at on my lunch break for your updates, was blocked. As of Friday, June 29th, JihadWatch was blocked. I can however, visit CAIR, read anything about Islam, and even get the Arab news. The censors I deal with are from the Dallas area. It is very easy to see that this censor is not operating according to the proper rules of access. They are operating by their political beliefs (or hopes.) It is unfortunate that these people block the very information that we need in these times…. With all this happening so suddenly in so many places, obviously this is a decision made in some central location, with impact within all these different places — but I am not certain of the source of it. I have contacted a web filter service to which several of these organizations apparently subscribe and which therefore may have initiated this general ban, but have not heard back yet. In any case, the matter of most concern in this is the likelihood that the decision was made to ban Jihad Watch was political. If it were merely a matter of filtering out controversial material, sites that treat some of the same material from a different perspective – particularly pro-jihad sites – would also have been banned. But they evidently have not been. Jihad Watch is dedicated to the defense of human rights for all people against those who would impose Islamic law, with its institutionalized discrimination against women and religious minorities, over both Muslim and non-Muslim societies. There is no “hatred” in this, except when we report the words of hatred and supremacism of the Islamic jihadists. We are trying to raise awareness of the nature, extent, and goals of the global jihad, which threatens everyone who loves and cherishes freedom and the equality of rights of all people before the law. However, to tar all such initiatives as “hatred” is a tried and true tactic of the Left. Intellectually bankrupt as it is, it silences its critics rather than dealing with them on the level of ideas. They can’t answer us, so they try to shut us up and discredit us. Leftists, as well as apologists for Islamic jihad terrorism, label their opponents “hatemongers” and “bigots,” hoping thereby to make people of good will turn away from their message. And the politicized nature of this Internet censorship will come as a surprise to no one. Committed Leftist ideologues have for many decades waged a war to gain control of the portals of communication. Their stranglehold was broken with the demise of the Fairness Doctrine and the advent of talk radio and the Internet. The Internet, for all its faults, has delivered the coup de grace to the control the politically correct media have long had on the news. Neither liberal or conservative news outlets dare to face the truth about the global jihad in any thoroughgoing or realistic way, but you can get it at Jihad Watch. And so, we are going to fight this. We are establishing a mirror site for Jihad Watch, and will continue to try to get the ban reversed – and in the process, hope to draw attention also to the politicization of Net filtering companies. We are not going to take lying down being vilified and silenced, when we are telling the truth.
As if to mock the efforts of America’s appeasement-advocating, dumbbell diplomats, Stalinist/Kimist North Korea and Islamist Iran (rising China’s vassal and ally, respectively) have reportedly agreed to expand cooperation in political, economic, and cultural fields.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki signed the agreement with visiting North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-il on Thursday evening, according to the Iranian Student News Agency.
The US State Department can be expected to downplay the significance of the news; but State is wrong, as usual. In fact, the announced accord is a thin cover for cooperation between the two rogue nations in the development of missiles, nuclear warheads, and chemical and biological weapons.
We’ve learned two things about Kim Jong Il recently. While the average North Korean survived on $1,000 a year, Ol Dirty Il Bastard personally spent $800,000 a year on his favorite Cognac. Until, that is, the sanctions hit, and he had to start guzzling cheaper fuels. Well, that may in fact have been his motivation for faking a nuclear test, and then, this February 14, leveraging a massive $330 million economic aid package, in exchange for halting his nuclear program.
Yes, that big North Korean nuclear explosion last year was a failure, according to the head of the CIA. And according to Russian intelligence officers, it was not only a failure, but a straight up fake. The Russians are still trying to figure out how they pulled it off. And it has contributed to a bombshell story also slipping out of Russian intelligence circles: Russia is about to pull the plug on Iran’s nuke aims. This will be one of my next two stories.
As for the CIA statement on North Korea:
Just over a week ago, on March 28, CIA Director Michael Hayden told South Korean media “The United States does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. It’s because the nuclear test last year was a failure.” His comment was first published in the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper.
So, for better or for worse, Los Angeles is probably safe from attack.
http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27704 THE UN HID NORTH KOREAN COUNTERFEITSBy Ed Morrissey
The United Nations faces another embarrassing scandal, as the New York Sun’s Benny Avni reports today. Despite its earlier denials, UN officials not only knew about North Korea’s counterfeiting operation — it helped Pyongyang hide the evidence in Turtle Bay safes:
As federal investigators examine how the leading U.N. agency in North Korea illegally kept 35 counterfeit American $100 bills in its possession for 12 years, documents indicate that more officials were aware of the existence of the fake currency — and earlier — than the agency has reported. Spokesmen for the United Nations Development Program have said top officials at the agency’s New York headquarters learned in February that their safe in Pyongyang contained the counterfeit bills and immediately reported it to American authorities. But several documents shown recently to The New York Sun indicate that higher-ups knew much earlier that the safe held counterfeit money. …
One “safe contents count record” — shown to the Sun with the stipulation that the paper omit such details as the exact issuing date, which was before February — confirms that fake money was in the safe in Pyongyang. According to a source familiar with the system, this and similar records were filed with UNDP headquarters twice a year.
Internal UNDP communication shown to the Sun also indicates that in at least one incident, a Pyongyang office manager reported the existence of the counterfeit money to his successor. Similar reports were filed with the seven managers that have served in North Korea since 1995. Some of these managers have returned to UNDP headquarters since then and now serve as top officials there.
In this case, the familiar refrain of “follow the money” applies literally. The UN’s own documentation shows that their leadership had clear knowledge of the criminal enterprise conducted by the Kim Jong-Il regime. They were required to inform the US of it and to provide the evidence for our investigations. Instead, they aided and abetted Kim and Pyongyang in undermining our currency.
Not surprisingly, the Treasury Department takes a dim view of this activity. The Secret Service wants to talk to at least 13 officials in the UN Development Program to determine their complicity in the counterfeiting ring. So far, the UN has not lifted immunity for those individuals, and they’re not talking about when it will happen; a “senior UN official” told Avni that the UN and the Secret Service are “working out the modalities”.
If federal prosecutors can return an indictment and confirm this activity, the UN will face a much tougher time in the US than it did in the Oil-for-Food Programme scandal. In that case, they turned a blind eye and enabled Saddam Hussein to enrich himself through a vast kickback scheme. If the UN helped hide North Korea’s counterfeiting ring, that is a direct insult to our sovereignty, as well as our hospitality.
It would be an insult that we cannot afford to let pass. If the UN does not immediately fire everyone involved in this scandal and revoke their immunity, then we must cut off all funds for the UN and create a timetable for withdrawal from this thoroughly corrupt organization. We have no need of a debating society whose members transform refugee camps into seraglios, who stuff the pockets of dictators with money meant for those they oppress, and who actively assist other nations in undermining our currency. If the UN fails to cooperate, it’s time to push Turtle Bay into the water and bid adieu to the last of the Cold War anachronisms. Tuesday, April 3, 2007
By Bill Roggio
Districts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Swat are Taliban country
NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/districts are openly controlled by the Taliban; yellow are under threat. Click map to view.
As Pakistan’s civil war continues, the Northwest Frontier Province slips further into the darkness of a Taliban ruled state. During a recent meeting between senior government political and security officials on March 6, the officials recognized the deterioration of the government’s writ not only in the tribal areas, but in the settled districts of the province. The situation in the NWFP, as reported by Dawn, is summed up as follows: “Inaction on the part of LEAs (law-enforcement agencies) -– government on the retreat. Writ of the government shrinking with every passing day. Vacuum being filled by non-state actors. Respect for law and state authority gradually diminishing. Morale of the LEAs and people supportive of government on the decline. Talibanisation, lawlessness and terrorism on the rise.”
The report also notes that the districts bordering the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan, “namely Tank, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat” are increasingly falling under the control of the Taliban, while the districts of Swat, Charsadda and Mardan, which neighbor Bajaur in the north, are also falling under the influence of the Taliban. “They were also briefed on the resurgence of the defunct Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi, particularly in Swat region where Maulana Fazlullah aka Maulana Radio was making full use of his illegally set up FM radio station to stop people from sending girls to schools and getting their children vaccinated against polio,” notes Dawn “Recently, anonymous letters were delivered to girls’ schools in Charsadda and Mardan asking them to wear veils; shops dealing in video CDs have been warned to stop their ‘un-Islamic’ business or face retaliation.”
The rapid decline of the situation in the Northwest Frontier province should come as no surprise to those who closely watch the Pakistani news. The following incidents are daily occurrences in the NWFP: assassinations of security officials, pro-government tribal leaders and ‘U.S. spies’; bombings of police stations, music and video shops; attacks on military patrols and bases; threats against barbers to stop shaving beards; Taliban recruiting drives; the threats to close schools, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. The signs of the Talibanization of northwestern Pakistan have been visible for well over two years.
The report indicated the lack of political will and the failure to shore up the security forces has led to the deterioration of security and the rise of Talibanistan in the province. “There seems to be some sort of paralysis at the decision-making level. There is little one can do in these circumstances other than fire-fighting,” an official commented to Dawn. “These are not normal times. Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary decisions. Unfortunately, the focus at the decision-making level now is more on politics than security. It (security) is on the back-burner.”
The Northwest Frontier province is rapidly switching from Taliban influenced (yellow on the map) to outright Taliban controlled (red). The recent fighting in Tank, where the government has called in the army after the Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban openly attacked the town, highlights just how badly the government has lost control in the settled districts in the NWFP. The tribes in Tank held a jirga (or tribal meeting) where they “banned offices of militant groups in the city, and pledged to fight and expel foreign militants.” “A peace committee was set up to look into ways to guard peace in the district on a permanent basis,” Dera Ismail Khan director Zulfiqar Cheem told reporters.
The Pakistani government claims it is sending in an additional two brigades, about 8,000 ‘crack troops,’ to the tribal regions to conduct a robust offensive and restore order. Apparently the troops are being sent to South Waziristan. The government, however, still clings to the clearly failed agreements in North and South Waziristan by characterizing the internecine fighting between Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, who openly supports jihad in Afghanistan and vowed to continue to fight the West, and Uzbek al Qaeda as signs of success of the Waziristan Accord. The Pakistani government is claiming over 140 Uzbeks have been killed in the fighting, while the locals in the region have put the numbers far, far lower. The Pakistani Army is well known for inflating enemy casualties while hiding their own.
Rumors of the Pakistan Army sending troops to conduct an offensive in the tribal areas have been circulating since the beginning of 2007, yet no offensive has materialized. Past “peace deals” have amounted to little than unenforceable agreements between the Taliban and the government, which result in the Taliban openly controlling the territory. Just prior to the fighting in Tank, Baitullah Mehsud was called in bring the people of Tank a “peace message.”
We hope the Pakistani government will seriously deal with the situation in the tribal agencies. The Taliban and al Qaeda are so entrenched a counterinsurgency campaign is now required to uproot them, according to a senior U.S. military intelligence official.
We hope the tribes of Tank are serious in wanting to eject “foreigners” and opposing the presence of the Taliban. But we doubt the sincerity of the actors involved. The Pakistani government and Army have shown little inclination to deal with the Talibanization on its northwestern border, and the ‘tribes’ they negotiate with to abdicate control of the region to are very often the Taliban. Tuesday, April 3, 2007
From FOX News: Bush: Pelosi Meeting With Syria’s Assad Sends Wrong Signal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria to meet President Bashar Assad sends a signal that the rogue nation is part of the international mainstream when it is not, President Bush said in a Rose Garden address Tuesday. Pelosi, D-Calif., arrived in Syria earlier that day, leading a Congressional delegation on a trip that the White House has criticized.
“It’s one thing to send a message,” Bush said. “It’s another thing to have the person receiving the message actually do something. Sending delegations hasn’t worked, it’s simply been counterproductive.”
Pelosi, who was met at Damascus airport by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, is the highest-ranking American politician to visit Syria since relations began to deteriorate in 2003.
The United States accuses Syria of interfering in Iraq and Lebanon and sponsoring terrorists — charges that Damascus denies. A White House spokeswoman has described Pelosi’s visit to Syria as a “really bad idea.”
Pelosi has shrugged off the criticism, pointing out that Republican members of Congress have also visited Syria. During a visit to neighboring Lebanon Monday, she said she considers the visits to be an “excellent idea” and was hopeful of rebuilding lost confidence between Washington and Damascus.
And IBD Editoirals: Mrs. Chamberlain.
We’ve seen how well Iran plays with others, capturing 15 British sailors in what in earlier times would have been considered an act of war. It is killing U.S. troops with advanced armor-piercing IEDs it supplies Iraqi jihadists. It plays host to Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi army has tried to destabilize Iraq’s infant democracy. Still, Pelosi insists we follow the ISG’s advice. Come, let us reason together. But we’ve seen Iran’s response to the ISG and to the international community that has rightly sanctioned Tehran for building weapons of mass destruction.
Syria and Iran were partners in crime in Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel and used the democracy of Lebanon as a human shield as it helped provide weapons that rained death and destruction on civilians in Israeli cities and towns. It acted as a conduit for arms flowing to Hezbollah from Iran used in Hezbollah’s attacks.
Syria has been linked to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and a host of other anti-Syrian political leaders as it works to destabilize the country it occupied for over two decades. Pelosi won’t be able to talk to Lebanon’s former industry minister, Pierre Gemayal. He was assassinated as part of Syria’s and Hezbollah’s plan to destabilize Lebanon.
UPDATE: From CNN: Pelosi receives warm welcome in Syria.
Pelosi stood by the U.S. assertion that Syria supports groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations. “Of course the role of Syria in Iraq, the role of Syria supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, the role of Syria in so many respects — we think there could be a vast improvement,” she said. “We think it’s a good idea to establish the facts, to hopefully build some confidence between us. We have no illusions, but we have great hope.” Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Cindy Does Seoul
By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu
FrontPageMagazine.com | November 27, 2006
One of the things that protestors in South Korea know is that the local riot police have ample experience with demonstrators. While a viable democracy, South Korea has seen out-of-control street riots in its turbulent past. Now authorities across the political spectrum are unwilling to allow anyone to go too far. Peaceful demonstrations? Sure, but don’t press your luck. While American demonstrators – including the most violent – are accustomed to being treated with kid gloves; in South Korea the gloves are off.
This is something that career protestors Cindy “Peace Mom” Sheehan and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin might want to keep in mind while they cavort throughout South Korea on their Quixotic mission of preventing the U.S. military from expanding a base south of Seoul and demanding immediate negotiations with North Korea, NOW!
By short background, the presence of large numbers of American military in the Yongsan Base located in the middle of Seoul has long been a contentious issue with Koreans. Its presence was a needless source of friction in a bilateral relationship that has had its share of disagreements anyway. Originally a remote base outside of the city, urban sprawl has progressed over the decades so the base is now in the geographic center of the bustling city. Aggravating the situation a major roadway bisects the base. Overhead walkways were added years ago to expedite pedestrian traffic, but impatient Korean drivers are forced to wait through two stoplights while on-base vehicles cross the road.
Meanwhile, negotiations for relocation of the American forces to the Camp Humphreys area, located in Pyongtaek about 45 miles south of Seoul, and Taegu, about 70 miles southeast of Seoul, have been underway for years. After adjacent land was purchased by the Korean government for expansion of the Pyongtaek base, the relocation out of Yongsan is finally underway to the delight of both South Koreans and Americans.
To the surprise of many, including no doubt the Korean government, Sheehan and Benjamin decided to shadow President Bush on his Asia trip to protest expansion of the Camp Humphreys site. Along the way they are also protesting the new Free Trade Agreement between America and South Korea, as well as demanding negotiations with North Korea. It is a collection of issues that are unrelated, somewhat mundane, and of little public interest, especially in America.
Sheehan, Benjamin, and 16 fellow Americans accompanied by a handful of South Koreans met with villagers who do not want to be relocated and demanded work cease. AFP reports that construction near Pyongtaek has met “strong protests from activists and villagers” who will be displaced from their homes or farmland. Translated, this means that fewer than 100 villagers don’t want to leave despite the generous compensation paid by the Korean government for their land. This is sad but it happens worldwide in these cases. Open support for the villagers’ protest has come from virulent anti-American, strongly pro-North Korean groups in South Korea including hard-Left student movements, labor organizations, and Communist sympathizers. Reports from South Korea note that without this support the village protests would have “faded away” long ago, but that the anti-American spin gives the local media an excuse to pack cameras down to Pyongtaek on slow news days.
…And for Sheehan and Benjamin to pack their bags. Sheehan bragged to reporters, “Believe me, we will be passing along these [villagers’] concerns to the, to the Congress, to the people of America and we will be doing every thing we can as Americans to correct this situation in South Korea.” Benjamin added, “There is no way that I feel my family will be more secure or that Korean families will feel more secure by expanding the Camp Humphreys base and taking land from people who have farmed there for generations.”
Dissatisfied with the lack of attention their presence generated in sleepy Pyongtaek, Sheehan and Benjamin trucked north to Seoul where they tried unsuccessfully to crash the gates at the Yongsan Base. The American Commander-in-Chief, crusty four-star General Burwell Bell, wisely refused them entrance to the base and virtually ignored their pathetic demonstration. Assembling outside of the gate – blocking traffic on the busy thoroughfare, a move that risked being beaten to a pulp by road-rage-possessed South Korean commuters, taxi drivers, and truckers – the demonstrators were outnumbered by South Korean police in full riot gear. Media swarmed like flies, outnumbering both police and protestors.
With her usual eloquence and reason, Cindy waved her American passport and noted, “My father served at this base. I have the right as an American to come onto this base.” Well, Cindy, actually you don’t. Access to U.S. overseas bases is not automatic but is left to the discretion of the local commander. Many American expatriates working in or visiting Seoul over the years have wished to come onto the base but were denied access if they had no official reason for entry. Apparently General Bell was not convinced of Sheehan-Benjamin’s need to enter.
In reaction to the protest the U.S.-Korean Combined Forces Command issued a statement not naming the demonstrators but upholding their right “to express their opinions.” The statement noted parenthetically that the South Korean general officer who was General Bell’s deputy was rotating that day and that both he and his replacement “are great patriots and have dedicated their lives to protecting freedom, to include the right to protest, here in Korea.” Good night, Cindy and Medea, and good luck.
In what has become her cynical default position, Sheehan held up a photo of her son and “posed for photographers,” while insisting, “we are not against the troops themselves, we’re against their leaders who deploy them carelessly.”
The facts are known about Sheehan and Benjamin: “Mother Sheehan” called terrorists in Iraq “freedom fighters,” and Benjamin has tried to convince soldiers to declare themselves conscientious objectors so they can be sent home. Both present American armed forces as a plague on the earth. At least General Bell had one opportunity to deny Cindy Sheehan the use of American servicemen as a prop for an anti-troop message.
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The recent nuclear test by North Korea has once again underscored how little progress has been made to curb that country’s bid for a nuclear program. Six-party negotiations and even a U.N. resolution unanimously passed by the Security Council have all proven failures. The main problem with North Korea, however, is not its nuclear missiles, but its communist system. A democratic Korea, even with nuclear weapons, would hardly pose a threat. By contrast, Communist Korea, even bound by agreements and promises, remains a serious danger. From this premise it follows that the most realistic solution to the rogue state’s provocations is not to prevent that regime from producing weapons of mass destruction. It is to facilitate the rapid change of the regime.
The history of fruitless attempts to end the arms race with the Soviet Union shows us that no negotiations or agreements with a totalitarian state can stop it from pursuing a military buildup. Andrei Sakharov and other Russian human-rights activists realized very early that the only way to tame Soviet aggression was to influence public opinion in the West by exposing the system’s injustices to the outside world.
This was the goal that brought me into the ranks of the dissidents. Our position was supported most prominently by President Reagan. Uninterested in signing new accords with the Soviets, Reagan took a strong position against communism. This helped to open up the Soviet Union and to spur the development of the democratic movement. As a result, Soviet authorities were forced to make concessions in their arms programs that would have been unthinkable to Reagan’s predecessors.
The North Korean totalitarian state is a replica of the Soviet system. As it was with the Soviet Union, North Korea’s nuclear threat will end only with the end of the communist regime. How and when that regime goes may depend on us. Will North Korea’s leaders have enough time and resources to develop nuclear weapons and the will to use them, or will they depart before that with little resolve for resistance? Herein is the essence of the North Korean threat. This should determine America’s North Korea policy: Its goal should be to help weaken the Korean communist regime, thereby hastening its ultimate end.
Attempting to force out the ruling power through negotiations is not very realistic. Sanctions alone will not do the job, either. Trying to topple the communist dictatorship by military intervention is not only highly risky, but also hardly justifiable, morally or politically, as long as there are any alternatives to that approach.
In the case of North Korea, such an alternative exists. It lies in liberalizing and opening up North Korean society. Our goal should be to make the communist regime give in to the demands of its own people and international public opinion, and to leave peacefully, as happened in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe.
Such a policy will certainly meet with resistance from the communist government. Nevertheless, the suggested strategy is feasible, because the North Korean communist system has weakened significantly and lost the totality of its control over the country. Consider that North Korea’s border has become porous and now allows more people to defect and more contraband, including modern electronics, to be smuggled in. The government has begun to lose its hold on information. Many people have mobile phones operated by Chinese companies. Information about goings on inside the country has also become more available. CNN recently broadcast a video shot by hidden cameras in North Korea, including some episodes inside a labor camp.
The increasing weakness of the communist regime is also evidenced by the very adventurous behavior of its leaders. Their nuclear program is suspiciously demonstrative. It looks as if its major goal is not to prepare for aggressive war or to defend the country, but rather to blackmail the United States and its allies into providing the regime with the economic and political assistance it desperately needs to maintain power.
Unfortunately, the blackmail has been working, since the current policy of the allies has helped Kim Jung Il to procure the many things that he needs: He receives ongoing threats from a powerful enemy, which helps him treat any dissent inside the country as treason; he attains legitimization of his fading system by sitting at six-party negotiations with the major world powers; and he secures economic assistance, which provides resources for that same nuclear program.
The irony of the situation is that the West is helping to prolong and embolden the North Korean communist regime, while it is in our best interest to do just the opposite. Instead of propping up the regime, the West should support the liberalization of Korean society through direct interaction with the Korean people against the wishes of their communist rulers. Three measures in particular should be implemented.
In short, the thrust of the West’s policy toward North Korea should be to shift from traditional diplomacy to public diplomacy. There have been some steps in these directions, but too few to constitute an effective challenge to the communist authorities. The National Endowment for Democracy allocates only a few hundred thousand dollars for all its North Korea programs, while American assistance to the North Korean communist government has exceeded one billion dollars over the last decade. To make the policy work, much more can and should be done.
Destabilizing the regime in this way will not be easy. Even so, the successful realization of a similar approach toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe suggests that it is possible. When we were planning to send the first copy machine, fax and computer to our fellow dissidents in Russia, few people believed that this would have any meaningful impact on the political situation. Before long, however, our information technology was aiding the cause of the democracy movement in all parts of the Soviet Union. North Korea’s secret police may be even more vicious than their KGB predecessors, but the informational revolution works against them. Even at the peak of the dissident movement, we could not dream of mobile phones or camcorders inside the labor camps.
Technology is a necessary but not sufficient condition for successful regime change. Equally essential is expertise. That expertise is uniquely possessed by those who, in the 1970s and 80s, worked to weaken the Soviet Empire: governmental officials, Russian and East European dissidents, and the groups that supported them. The experiences of Chinese dissidents over the last two decades may also prove invaluable.
Even in the late 1980s, the Soviet Union was regarded by many influential thinkers as a permanent feature on the international landscape. Pyongyang has benefited from similar fatalism. To end the tyranny in North Korea, the West must first reject this conventional wisdom.
Yuri Yarim-Agaev is a former leading Russian dissident and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Upon arriving in the
United States after his forced exile from the
Soviet Union, he headed the New York-based Center for Democracy in the
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The twin fizzles of North Korea’s attempted long-range Fourth of July rocketry and its semi-successful nuclear test encourage those who favor procrastination as a viable foreign policy. In the long run, it affords little comfort that North Korea’s weapons don’t work well, because it cannot stop Kim Jong-il’s patience and marketing of more and better rockets. After 15 years of stalling, lying, and cheating his way through nuclear negotiations, Kim Jong-il could be the subject of a Country & Western song. We must accept the fact that he is faithful to his nuclear weapons programs, and unfaithful to anyone who would take them away from him. As Ambassador Christopher Hill put it, “North Korea can have nuclear weapons or it can have a future.” Kim Jong-il has chosen; he means to build the Arsenal of Terror. Now, we must choose whether we will let him.
Can we disarm Kim Jong-il at less risk of a catastrophic war than the risks of continuing with the present course? We think so, but not through conventional diplomatic or military means.
Some analysts talk of military strikes directed at key facilities. Newt Gingrich has suggested that the Kim regime be told privately, on unequivocal terms, that every time he stands a missile up for testing it will be killed on the pad. Some suggest reacting against any movement toward another nuclear test with a strike against the deeply dug-in, highly protected test equipment. Strikes might set some of those programs back but probably could not destroy his underground nuclear facilities. The other side of the cost-benefit ledger is heavy: domestic forces might compel Kim Jong-il to respond, and that could escalate into a second Korean War and the destruction of Seoul, which lies within artillery range of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Economic sanctions have the benefit of attacking Kim Jong-il’s economic vulnerabilities. For the past year, the Treasury Department has been constricting the financial arteries that support Kim Jong-il’s palace economy: illegal weapons, narcotics, and counterfeiting. These measures have shown some promising results. Japan’s new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, just added his muscle to the squeeze by denying North Korean merchant ships access to Japan’s ports and by vigorously attacking one of Kim’s great sources of foreign cash: Korean Yakuza operations in western Japan. UN Resolution 1718 (which, by itself, justified John Bolton’s confirmation) freezes or cuts off funds for his WMD-related assets and accounts, and even bans him from purchasing luxury items, such as his French Cognac supplies. The object of this goes beyond the inducement of derelium tremens. Louis XIV said, “L’État, c’est moi,” but Kim Jong-il has perfected it in practice. He stands atop a precarious pyramid of faction-riven Party hacks, intelligence service thugs, and what former Ambassador Jim Lilley calls “hard-faced generals.” Kim Jong-il knows that too many missed payments to these men, whose endemic corruption requires constant care and feeding, puts him a trigger squeeze from oblivion.
Others have proposed a naval blockade, but Kim’s protectors, including China and South Korea, might help diffuse the effect of the more onerous sanctions. Another less risky option could be almost as devastating: the Treasury Department could designate North Korea itself as an “entity of concern” for money laundering, under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. That would instantly sever all of North Korea’s connections to the international finance system, but would have collateral effects in other countries whose cooperation we would prefer to obtain through polite requests.
All of these measures will have an effect, but they will take time. They might also cause Kim Jong-il to squeeze his suffering people even harder, and in the end, they might mean little more than replacing one evil tyrant with another. They might force Kim Jong-il to negotiate, but not in good faith. They might weaken the regime, but they won’t necessarily replace it with one that will live in peace.
We still have not spoken of North Korea’s greatest vulnerability: its citizens’s disapproval. We think of North Korea as a stable, opaque, Orwellian monolith, but recently we have seen cracks in the façade. Refugees and defectors report a recent wave of uprisings and expressions of dissent. A few of the disturbances, such as the rising in the Onsong Concentration Camp and the planned mutiny of the Chongjin garrison, were significant. Most, however, were localized, and the regime was able to keep them that way by taking great pains to isolate its subjects from outside world and compartmentalize them from internal communication among themselves.
Geography is also on the regime’s side. North Korea’s terrain is rugged. Its road and communications infrastructure is decrepit. (Its original dictator, Kim Il Sung, died of a heart attack, because ambulances could not negotiate the road to one of his mountain hideaways in time.) Today, even Kim Jong-il’s concentration camps are not, physically speaking, “concentrated;” they are really scattered networks of guarded hamlets where uprisings are easy to contain and from which escape is a formidable challenge. All information comes from tightly controlled Party outlets. Radios and televisions are pre-set with approved frequencies. Listening to any of the few sources of “unofficial” information – South Korean, Japanese, or “foreign” stations – is punishable with immediate exile of the suspect and his entire family to a labor camp.
Despite all of these countermeasures, the information blockade on which Kim Jong-il’s power depends is breaking down. Since the famine that killed 2.5 million North Koreans in the 1990’s, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have voted with their feet and risked death by crossing the border into China. Some of these refugees later returned to North Korea and spoke of China’s comparative prosperity. China arrested others and ruthlessly sent them back to the North Korean gulag. A few escaped to South Korea or elsewhere. This refugee flow is Beijing’s recurring nightmare. China dreads the prospect of an imploding North Korea releasing millions of refugees along the countries’ 900-mile border. China, which barely suppressed the SARS outbreak, worries that North Koreans – whose immune systems are weakened by malnutrition and a lack of basic medical care – could bring a plague of diseases and burden its economy.
Some of these refugees are crossing out of economic desperation. There is an active business of smuggling goods and people across the Chinese-North Korean border. But most refugees are probably motivated by politics to some degree – because the government has put them in a low-priority category for food rations, because they have lost all faith in their government, or a combination of both. The moment they see the relative prosperity of China, they realize the magnitude of the propaganda barrage inside North Korea. Meanwhile, corruption, disillusionment, and societal decay have accelerated the corrosive effect on the information blockade. Cell phones, tunable radios, and South Korean DVD’s are now available, even in Pyongyang, to those who know where to find them, even though the possession of these items can be a death-camp offense. There is a growing network of underground churches inside North Korea, a remarkable phenomenon given the ruthless repression with which the Communists have attacked any religion other than the worship of the two Kims.
This below-the-radar decline of the Cult of Kim has led to some surprising results. Last month, Thai authorities arrested as many as 300 North Korean refugees who survived a dangerous journey across China, along a thousand-mile underground railroad run largely by Christian missionaries and sympathizers. On every inch of this journey, they risked forcible repatriation to North Korea if caught by Chinese authorities. Of these 300, half asked to go to the United States – a nation they had been indoctrinated since birth to hate and fear as an imperialist warmonger. Their remarkable yearning for freedom led them to choose America instead of South Korea, where they already share a common language and customs. According to a recent New York Times report, “$10,400 will buy a package deal to get someone out of North Korea and, armed with a fake South Korean passport, on a plane or boat to South Korea within days.” It is simply a matter of money; the bodies of those who try to escape without it wash up in bullet-ridden heaps beside the Tyumen River. Yet still, more make the risky crossing.
More also want to know the truth. The Broadcasting Board of Governors recently cited surveys from 2003 and 2004, which found that 28 to 31 percent of North Korean refugees had listened to the Voice of America, and that 18 percent had listened to Radio Free Asia. They tuned in to these forbidden broadcasts in spite of the terrible risk of being caught. The percentage of listeners is probably higher today. Yet two years after the North Korean Human Rights Act authorized the expansion of Radio Free Asia, along with more programs to smuggle information into North Korea, our government is only starting the process of expanding radio broadcasts to the North. North Korea’s hysterical reaction speaks volumes about the subversive potential of broadcasting. The letters North Korean refugees write to Radio Free Asia are inspiring. To be sure, survey samples based on refugees are skewed, but the North Korean people do appear to be an emerging market for such subversive ideas as tolerance, religious freedom, pluralism, free markets, and democracy.
There is another side to breaking down the isolation of the North Korean people that observers tend to overlook – getting information out of North Korea. In a land still described by popular media as the Hermit Kingdom, the factual vacuum about conditions inside North Korea partially explains why nations have failed to coordinate a common response to such issues as famine, food aid, human rights, crime, and weapons proliferation. Ask most Americans about conditions within North Korea, and you will elicit a shrug. In contrast, even closed societies such as the former Soviet Union and present-day China are open volumes compared to reclusive North Korea. The Great Famine was the most heartrending example of this. By the time international relief agencies gleaned through sparse information and agreed that a famine was killing millions of North Koreans, it was too late to save many of them. A German physician, Norbert Vollertsen, fled North Korea with photos of malnourished children in striped pajama uniforms. When he tried to tell the South Korean people this terrible news, he was beaten by South Korean police, threatened with expulsion, and threatened by pro-North Korean Stalinists determined to protect the South’s appeasement-based Sunshine policy from the truth about conditions in the North. In a more recent and highly suspicious incident, Vollertsen was attacked by a group of unidentified men on a street in downtown Seoul. South Korean Police dismissed the incident and accused Vollertsen of being drunk, although he proceeded to give a speech before an audience that can confirm otherwise.
To their everlasting shame, many in South Korea choose to live in cognitive dissonance and outright denial about conditions inside their northern neighbor. Many South Koreans dismiss reports of grave human rights abuses as “U.S. propaganda,” and dispute reports of conditions within North Korea’s gulag, to include the reported experimental poison gas chamber at Camp 22. Repeatedly, when the U.N. has considered resolutions condemning North Korea’s atrocities against its people, South Korea abstained or refused to vote. Now, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, who presided over this shameful diplomacy, is about to become the new UN General Secretary.
While educating South Koreans and others is important, tearing open the bamboo curtain and allowing the light of truth to both penetrate and escape from the North is essential. North Koreans must learn what is happening in their own districts, provinces, and country, and the rest of the world should share this information. Already, this process has made a courageous start. Brave guerrilla cameramen recently brought out video of public executions, labor camps, starving soldiers sent home to die, South Korean food aid stolen by the military, and acts of dissent. A Seoul-based news site, The Daily NK, collects and publishes reports from defectors, traders, and clandestine journalists who cross the border between North Korea and China.
Our government can do much more to support the breaking of this blockade. It can start by breaking our own State Department’s blockade on the appropriation and distribution of funds already authorized under the North Korean Human Rights Act. It should also help to expand this network of clandestine journalists inside North Korea. Many of these journalists could be recruited from the same source that produced the concentration camp survivor, defector, journalist, and author Kang Chol-Hwan – the ranks of thousands of North Korean refugees in South Korea and in third countries. A select group of them, properly trained in clandestine reporting, could return to their homeland to tell their stories. We could provide them satellite telephones and cameras to transmit their reports without making the risky journey across the border. With enough money, it is possible to smuggle large quantities of i-pods, cell phones, and micro-radios into North Korea, so that the people could hear the news these journalists reported. Eventually, we could train other refugees in basic technical skills, the fundamentals of how democratic government works, and eventually, medicine, so that the underground could begin to provide essential services that the regime stopped providing years ago. Eventually, these volunteers could become the core of new civil society in a scarred, traumatized, and chaotic post-Kim Jong-il Korea.
Ultimately, the key rests with China’s treatment of refugees. China must realize that its refugee policy is earning the eternal enmity of the North Korean people for the sake of a dying regime. One day, North Koreans will make up one-third of the population of a united Korea, which will be one of China’s largest trading partners and trade corridors, and as an added bonus, might not require a large U.S. military presence for its defense. It must begin to accept North Korean refugees in large numbers, even if only in UN-run refugee camps along its border. The United States and a coalition of other nations could foot the bill for refugee care, something that is vastly cheaper than recovering from missile strikes. The establishment of these refugee camps, or “feeding stations” if you prefer, would be predicated on the notion that all inhabitants would eventually be repatriated to Korea or resettled outside of China.
From Washington, North Korea looks as stable as East Germany, Romania, and Albania looked in 1988. In reality, those regimes hung by tenuous threads, disguising political weakness behind statist omnipotence, waiting for the sword stroke that freed their subjects from oppression. By reaching out to the North Korean people with truth, hope, food, and medical care, we can do much to undermine the cult of hate and isolation on which Kim Jong-il’s grip on power depends. Diplomacy has failed, sanctions are only a partial solution, and military strikes carry an unacceptable risk of disaster. The root of the crisis is Kim Jong-il. We must help the North Korean people uproot him. We must help them achieve what Koreans and Americans have dreamed of for more than half a century: a Korean that is united and free.
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Report: N. Korean leader, Kim Jong Il Regrets Nuclear Test
October 20, 2006 5:49 a.m. EST
Jacob Cherian – All Headline News Staff Writer
Seoul, South Korea (AHN) – A South Korean newspaper has reported on Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il regrets the nation’ s nuclear test and that he is willing to return to six-party talks, conditional to Washington’s withdrawal of isolationist campaigns against North Korea.
Chosun Ilbo reported Kim as telling a Chinese envoy, “If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will also make a concession to some degree, whether it be bilateral talks or six-party talks.”
The newspaper also reported that Jong Il told the Chinese delegation that he is “sorry about the nuclear test.”
State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan led the Chinese delegation and met with Kim on Thursday in Pyongyang, in hopes of persuading North Korea to disarm. China is communist nation’s key trading partner and ally.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to arrive in Beijing on Friday.