January 26, 2020

Scholar Discusses North Korea Threat And Policy

Michael Mazza. Photo by Owen Haworth.

By Erin Hylen ’19
Arts & Life

American Enterprise Institute research fellow Michael Mazza spoke at Gordon about the potential threat posed by North Korea on Nov 6, 2017.

“Kim Jong-Un has been keeping his soldiers and his engineers busy. This is all to the detriment of American national security and that of our South Korean ally, as well as our Japanese ally. Kim Jong-Un, a thirty-something enigma with less than a decade of leadership experience of any kind under his belt, may soon control a small nuclear arsenal with which he can target the United States,” Mazza said.

Mazza spoke about how the lack of information available on Kim has created a challenge for the United States and its allies.

“We didn’t know much about [Kim] when he came to power back in 2011/2012, and we don’t know much more about him now. That makes it difficult to predict how he will react to a variety of policy options,” Mazza said.

In 2016, then-White House Spokesman Josh Earnest made a statement addressing the United States’ goals for the Korean Peninsula. He said, “…We want the North Koreans to end their provocative acts both in the form of missile tests and nuclear tests… to commit to de-nuclearization and to demonstrate a commitment to pursuing peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Mazza labeled these goals as worthy, but also said that “… in [his] view, [they] are more or less impossible as long as the Kim regime is in power,” stating that for Kim to abide by such demands “would be antithetical to the regime’s very nature.”

He then spoke of the strategies he said he thinks the United States and its allies should employ to create “a course of action that will weaken the regime over time and lead to its downfall.”

Mazza said that this course of action would include containment of North Korea, which he defined as “the successful deterrence of provocative North Korean behavior, outright aggression… and also the successful limiting of further advancements in the North’s nuclear missile programs.”

He said the first part of his proposed strategy would be to cut North Korea off from the international financial system, similar to what the United States did in 2005.

“In September of that year, the U.S. Treasury Department [labeled] (estimated?) Banco Delta Asia, or BDA, as a primary money-laundering concern. U.S. institutions were eventually prohibited from doing business with BDA, and many foreign banks followed suit. North Korea’s funds at the bank financerr.co.uk were frozen,” Mazza said.

The act of limiting North Korea’s access to the international financial system, along with sanctions, would “…make it increasingly difficult for Pyongyang to access hard cash, which is necessary both to support nuclear missile programs and to ensure elite cohesion to the North,” Mazza added.

However, Mazza stressed that these financial strategies alone wouldn’t be enough.

“Financial measures designed to hamper the North’s illicit trade of weapons, drugs, counterfeit cigarettes, or counterfeit currency should be complemented with physical measures,” he said.

Mazza said that the United States and its allies should repeatedly refer Kim to the International Criminal Court for violating human rights.

China and Russia will of course exercise their vetoes… Ideally sympathetic countries will bring the referral to a vote every time the Security Council meets, forcing China and Russia to repeatedly and publicly align themselves with the world’s most odious regime, and repeatedly embarrass Kim Jong-Un at the world’s premier multilateral organization,” he said.

Mazza also said that “[the United States and allies] should apply unrelenting pressure on China to encourage it to live up to its international obligations,” specifically stating that the country needs to treat those that flee from life under Kim’s harsh regime as political refugees, helping them instead of forcing them to return and face deadly punishments.

Finally, Mazza addressed the power that North Korea has over South Korea.

“North Korea has thousands of artillery pieces on this side of the demilitarized zone, hundreds of which are in range of Seoul, and many of which may be armed with chemical and biological weapons. North Korea essentially holds Seoul hostage every single day,” he said.

As the final part of his proposed strategy, Mazza recommended an increased investment in defense for both South Korea and America in order to ultimately make North Korea’s weapons a waste of money and time.


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