Key Points

Bradley Bowman is the senior director for the Center on Military and Political Power with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Acknowledging that a longtime policy may have passed its sell-by date is rarely easy. Policy inertia is a powerful force, and large bureaucracies are almost always resistant to major changes in direction—especially when it comes to things like Iraq’s post-2003 political order that the United States did so much to create. But major events are afoot now in Iraq that cry out for serious reevaluation. Not only are important U.S. interests are at stake, but, as we’ve seen repeatedly in recent weeks, the lives of U.S. troops and diplomats are increasingly at risk as well. Recognizing the need for a significant shift in approach is the critical first step toward building a more sustainable and effective long-term Iraq policy, even if comes at the expense of acknowledging that Washington’s approach since 2003 has largely been a failure.

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Kim Il-sung developed a system to perpetuate dynastic rule. The single vital national interest of the North is survival of the Kim Family Regime or what the late Stephen Bradner described as a mafia-like crime family cult. It is not survival of the nation-state nor the survival of the Korean people living in the North but only the regime. Kim designed the system of Songbun – a social classification system that divides society into fifty one social classes in three broad categories of the elite loyal class, the wavering classes, and the disloyal classes. Robert Collins has described Songbun as a process that systematically denies human rights to ensure social control to prevent any threats to the regime’s survival.

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Any failure to do so—and especially any effort to cut the size of the active duty Army—would only put a heavier burden on soldiers who are already enduring so much to keep Americans safe.

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Avoiding yet another CR for the Pentagon will represent an important test of whether congressional leaders can fulfill one of their most basic – and important – constitutional responsibilities.

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EVENT: Maximum Pressure 2.0: A Plan for North Korea

December 13, 2019 | 12:00

EVENT: Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate

October 21, 2019 | 12:00