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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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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When Trump delivers his address to Congress, the world’s regimes will be watching. So too will no small number of their citizens. Both will be gauging U.S. resolve, with vastly different hopes. In putting freedom first, the U.S. should leave no doubt.

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It is imperative that the United States build on today’s sanctions to remind the Kim regime of the risks and costs of its unrelenting desire for nuclear weapons. Although ramping up pressure will likely yield an increase in regional tensions, it is the only way to break the diplomatic deadlock between Washington and Pyongyang without conceding to Kim’s demands.

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I understand why subscribers to The Nation — headlines in the current issue include “Socialism Is on the Agenda” and “The Trump Presidency Is Our Second 9/11” – would disdain Nikki Haley, and hope she doesn’t run for president in four years. But it puzzles me why others – Republicans and moderate Democrats – wouldn’t welcome the marriage of her eloquence and elegance with what one might call a neo-Trumpian commitment to making America economically and militarily greater. Isn’t that a necessary precondition for everything else patriotic Americans want to achieve?

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EVENT: Maximum Pressure 2.0: A Plan for North Korea

December 13, 2019 | 12:00

EVENT: Instruments of American Power: Implementing Foreign Policies and Protecting Against Global Threats

October 10, 2019 | 12:00