Thursday, December 29, 2016

N. Korea Human Rights violations threaten US national Security

Below is transcription of a panel conducted last month at the George W. Bush Institute in TX on the threat that North Korea poses on the US…because of the inseparable links between human right violations in N. Korea and our own national security here at home.  Statements by former US President George W. Bush, two analysts and former Senator and Democratic VP candidate Joe Lieberman repeatedly make this case.

The links between N. Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the proliferation of Nuclear weapons and missile technology to Iran, Pakistan and Syria are clear and related to the resources the N. Korean government generated from the slave labor of it’s own people.
What is not mentioned is N. Korea’s impressive cyber force capacity which is well known or its biological weapons capacity which is not.   I don’t believe the N. Korean leadership is suicidal, but after the unjust US invasion of Iraq and President Bush’s provocative “Evil Empire speech’ putting cross hairs on both Iran and N. Korea, is there any doubt that the development of WMD capabilities would be in the best interests of both those ‘rogue nations’?   And that the growing tensions between major super power states, rogue states with WMD capacity, and violent extremists groups seeking it, that creating more injustice in the world isn’t in the best interest of any living soul?

After the horrors of WW II (the devastation of total war, a genocide and a new weapon capable of vaporizing tens of thousands of innocent people in a flash) that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was passed.  It’s intent was to prevent future conflicts.  But the UN was never given the capacity to ensure such global justice.  Today, the closest thing we have is the globally agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals.  Achieving them would be the equivalent of enforcement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  And SDG #16 is vital in ensuring the global governance mechanisms  are in place to most effectively achieve each of the other SDGs. Then all that’s missing is the funding.  Something that would be available if the world stopped reacting to crisis and instead invested in their prevention.  With the money the US has spent on it’s invasion of Iraq and that it will pay for the future health benefits of its military survivors…the world could have met the Millennium Development Goals.  Now, we need the likes of a good businessman, to make deals and pull the resources from the Corporations that have an equal amount of funds in reserve just waiting for a wise investment opportunity.   A silly thought I know.  But no more silly than thinking we can keep our security without investing in global justice.

Former President George W. Bush on Human Rights in North Korea Former President George W. Bush spoke about the effect of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, followed by a panel discussion on the foreign policy priorities of the incoming Trump administration and the 115th Congress.  “The Human Rights and Security Nexus” was a panel of “Light Through the Darkness: A Forum on Freedom in North Korea,” a George W. Bush Institute forum on U.S. policy toward North Korea and national security.  CSpan:  NOVEMBER 29, 2016

Amanda Schnetzer, Global Initiatives Director, George W. Bush Institute
[starting at 1 min. 30 sec. in] “Since 2014 the Bush Institution has convened unprecedented awareness raising, consensus building meetings, commissioned original research, and helped break new ground in our understanding of one of the worst human tragedies of our time.  The result has been a call to action!   For governments, the private sector, and civil society to work together in a bipartisan way to improve the human condition in North Korea.   We believe this calls for advocating for a new US policy that integrates the call for human freedom with de-nuclearization.  We also believe it means supporting the lives of escapees who are building new lives and freedoms here in the US.  All of you can be a part of this call to action!  If you visit you will find several concrete ways you can help.  Learn more about the Human Rights/Security Nexis by downloading”…research and policy recommendations being released today. “Help expose the suffering of the North Korean people and why it matters to Americans security by sharing his content on social media.  Let Members of Congress know how you feel. … Find ways to help N. Korean escapees and other refugees in your community.  And support the ongoing work of the Bush Institute to advance human freedom… The will for human freedom cannot be tamped down forever.”  [Ends at 3:10 in]
[8:20 Former President Bush speaks] 13:00 ‘we focus on a lot of things, but’ “people ask why North Korea?  Of all the places why should the Bush Center be thinking about North Korea? There are several reason….[last] N. Korea represents a grave security threat. It shows how the proliferation of a deadly technology can allow small leaders…to threaten and disrupt the world on a grand scale….there are no easy policy solutions. But any serious response must begin by accepting reality. There is no way to detach ourselves from events in east Asia.  Our future, and the future of that region are closely linked. Eventually, there is no isolation from proliferation. No safety in distance.  North Korea also represents the longest sustained humanitarian crisis in our time… Freedom, like the dignity of the individual is universal…. These two challenges, the humanitarian challenge and the security challenge are closely linked….The lesson of history is clear. A country that does not respect the rights of its people will not respect the rights of its neighbors. This is one of the arguments of an excellent report that Victor Chaw and Bob Gallucci have put together…” These to top experts, one a Democrat, one a Republican, “make a case that Human Rights and Security are inseparable.  They make a strong case that human dignity is not a distraction from security policy… [The report] sent out a range of options for a renewed North Korean policy, reassuring allies in the region, integrating nonproliferation and human rights sanctions, going after slave labor exports that fund weapons development…
This is a timely moment and our country is about to have a new administration which has every right to choose its own direction. They can take advice or not, but there is one option that can’t be chosen. The option of drifting.  Because that current would lead to disaster. Denial provides only the shallow and temporary illusion of security, and leadership on this matter cannot be delegated to others.  A successful response will require unprecedented global cooperation.  But it can it can only be led by one country, the US.  There is another way to show our commitment to human rights for the North Korean people.  By supporting refugees in our midst.  The Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative is issuing a second report today, based on a survey of N. Korean refugees who live in our country. It shows a small but highly motivated community of exceptional people.  It also reveals real need in the areas of education and employment…. Coming to the aid of men and women who have fled the worst tyranny in the world is in our national interest…. The warm welcome of refugees is one of the truest expressions of our national character. It shows the broad reach of American ideals and the good heart of our people.  Refugees often risk everything, including their life, to come to America. Whatever their background they deserve our sympathy.  Not our concept.  The threat from North Korea and the cruel oppression of its people are urgent and related problems.   Free nations cannot accept a future on terms set by this brutal and unstable regime. Technology is bringing closer the threats of a dangerous world.  Technology can also carry a message of God given rights and dignity - the other direction.  And, that is a form of power as well.  The untamed power of freedom to reach the darkest corners of the world.  It is not foreign policy realism to ignore the deepest aspirations of humanity.  Yes, we defend ourselves in a tense demilitarized zone and we are grateful to American and Korean troops who stand guard on the last rampart of the Cold War. But we also defend ourselves by taking the side of the North Korean people.  They deserve better than brutality and tyranny. They deserve to determine their own future.  That would bring real peace to the Korean peninsula. The only true and lasting peace.  A peace. Founded on human freedom.
[22:25]  Michael J. Gerson, Washington Post reads a portion of President Bush’s second Inaugural address, “We are led by events and common sense to one conclusion. The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is in the expansion of freedom in all the world.  Americans vital interests and deepest beliefs are now one.”
Victor makes the claim in his report that “freedom and security are indivisible”.
[31:00] Robert Gallucci points out that N. Korea’ contribution to nuclear proliferation is significant. It has transferred both nuclear and missile technology to both Iran and Pakistan.  And it was in the process of assisting Syrian in the development of nuclear power when “Israel exercised its own policy of nonproliferation and bombed it”.   
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), incoming Republican Senatorial Committee chair said he wanted to make sure the new Admin keeps the N. Korean issue on the top of his agenda. Make sure that UN sanction are enforced by working closely with China.
Former Senator Joe Lieberman.
[34;30]  Thanks the President and the Bush Institute's “principled public service, which always in my opinion is based on the centrality of the American ideal of freedom, which is the mission that our founders gave us in the Declaration of Independence- about all those self- evident, the rights we have to truth, the rights we have to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness- which clearly were not just given by our creator to Americans. That’s a declaration of universal human rights. We forget that sometimes that that's our mission as Americans, but it also happens to relate to our security in a very real way. And that can be lost.  So Why is it important that support for human rights in N. Korea and for a change of regime in N. Korea and the unification of Korea?  It is because it comes from our basic values. This ought not to be a partisan matter in any sense.
And the discussion we have when you think about it, it is easy enough for somebody to say, "oh, that's N. Korea, that's too bad. Kim Jong-Un is crazy and people suffer there, but it's far away from us." Well, now in this slave state, he's taken whatever resources he has, and he's built this nuclear missile capacity and now he is selling it to the Iranians, the Pakistanis, to the Syrians, and inevitability to terrorists, and he is also developing now literally the capacity to hit the western part of the US.  So what may seem like a kind of idealistic, not realistic pursuit of human rights for people far away from us,  is really not only directly related to what is in our hearts as Americans, but it is also related to our security.   I think that's why we have achieved bipartisanship on this matter and why it's so important we go forwards.
All of us have said and know, we are at the change of an administration in Washington, and I don't mean this derogatorily, this is an administration whose foreign policy in detail, has not been sketched out, so that unsettles people including our allies in Korea and places all around the world, but it also creates an opportunity.  If  I can put it that way, to a broadly bipartisan group brought together by the Bush Institute to try to speak the truth about N. Korea to those who will exercise power in the next administration because the reality is that N. Korea will be in the face of the next administration, whether it chooses to look at it or not.
[38] Victor…when asked if he was suggesting a new policy approach to N. Korea?   First of all we are making the statement that security and human rights are interlinked.  This is not a thing that has been done in the past [that he is aware of!!!!].  He stressed the importance of the new Administration making N. Korea a priority as well as this link between human rights and security…as well as other dimensions…such as the where resources from slave labor used to purchase

Well, the first reason is that this matters to us. It matters in terms of our national values, our purpose, but it also matters quite directly in terms of our security. There will be a debate as the new administration takes office as to what our role will be in the world. The president-elect said certain things during the campaign that suggested we would go back- I don't like to use the word "isolationism," but that we were going to withdraw from the world and concentrate on America, but the world doesn't allow you to concentrate on America. What happens in America, our security, our freedom and prosperity, depends a lot on what happens around the world and the example of N. Korea is a powerful example of it.
But the other thing to say is that we live in a world of instantaneous communications globally, so that what we do in one place is immediately known elsewhere. So, for instance, whatever position you took on the Iran nuclear agreement, the fact that the agreement was signed and that it appeared that our allies in the region, both in the Arab world and Israel, were very upset about it, I think unsettled people. I found my conversations with allies in Asia, for instance- wow, if the US did that, in that case, what are they going to do if China moves aggressively on us?  Or if Kim Jong-Un proposes some kind of compromise deal again.
What I'm saying is, what we do with N. Korea, what the new administration does with N. Korea, will establish a very important precedent for what its leadership will be in the world, and it will, to be explicit, either encourage or discourage or unsettle our allies, and it may also encourage or discourage our enemies.
The way we handle this is important beyond N. Korea.  But N. Korea, in my opinion, is probably the most urgent, immediate threat that the new administration will face to our security. We've got to acknowledge, as President Bush said at the outset, this is not easy, but whatever we have tried so far hasn't worked because people continue to live in terrible conditions, totally repressed, enslaved, and Kim Jong-Un has increased his nuclear and missile capacity. 
So to me, it is a time to get tough, both on the freedom agenda. Support opposition groups; try to get to the people of N. Korea more access to the internet and knowledge about what's happening around the world.  Get tough with the sanctions, which are very important, the secondary sanctions. This man is not going to make an agreement, as everybody seems to agree, unless he thinks the survival of his regime is on the line. We've got to convince him that that's how serious we are, including the potential for military action, which none of us want to take, but if all else fails...

I agree with everything that was said. This is all about leadership and part of leadership is education.  So I believe in the case of Syria that once the president had set the red line, if he actually followed through on it, and responded to us as you suggest, that he would have had great support from the American people.  In this case, if we get to the point where the red line, where it appears, that the N. Koreans have the ability to hit the western part of the US with a nuclear armed missile, then it'll take leadership to point that out.  But I think a president, in that circumstance, in Congress will also have to wrestle with the consequences of not acting and this is not an easy decision.
To state the obvious, I don't think the American people understand this very serious circumstance.To convince the American people that we should get involved in a Korean-like ground war again now. To take military action to incapacitate a regime that is totalitarian, and now has the capacity to hit the US, I think the American people would not prefer that, but would certainly support it. In other words, not their first choice, but would support it as opposed to being vulnerable to a mad man's missiles and nuclear weapons.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Russia hacking helpful to us

In response to:  “Vladimir Putin may have done us a big favor   

Dear Editor,
Mr. Samuelson’s ‘silver lining’ of Russia’s hacking of our election is demands top attention of the next Congress and Administration.    Trump appears to be moving in the wrong direction of turning our nation inward while upping our military ante abroad.   This will only exacerbate the threats to both our privacy and our security.  These threats will grow exponentially – along with the exponential advancements in cyber, bio, nano and robotics technology. 
Mr. Samuelson appropriately agreed with AEI’s assessment that cyber threats should join with the “three great strategic shifts in military history” (sea, air, space) and didn’t understand why their list “omitted” “nuclear power”.   But both missed the greatest shift (equal to or greater than cyber) of  biological weapons.  Cyber technology greatly enhanced bio-weapon's capacity to target genetic profiles of individuals or ethnic groups with unprecedented lethality globally.  Imagine a biological ‘Stuxnet’ virus.  In the late 1990s I was researching “Camel Pox”.  A virus most Arabs were immune to but Iraq was considering for bioweapon development.  Now recall the four word summary of the 9-11 Commission “our failure of imagination”.
Our greatest threat isn’t “the nature of the Internet” or the nature of DNA.  It’s our mental nature to believe imaginary concepts like ‘independence” and “nationality”.   Our life is NOT independent from other nations, the environment, or the seven billion souls we share this planet with.   Things change. Some change exponentially.  Our government was flat lined but now may change radically in the wrong direction.

Once we fully recognize our irreversible interdependence and adjust our government unite the world with “self-evident” “truths” in our Declaration of Independence, and then enforce ‘life, liberty” and “justice for all”, we will for the first time, be able to maximize both our freedoms and our security. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Liberty and justice for all’ or security for none.

In response to  "The Peace Movement and Resistance in Dark Times”  By Joseph Gerson  December 9, 2016 

Dear Mr. Gerson.  Moral markers have already been set for humanity.  They were set over 200 years ago with the Declaration of Independence and the words “we hold these truths to be self-evident…”   A profound marker that our founding fathers and ‘we the people’ of the United States have never made good on.
Profound moral markers were set again in 1948 (exactly 68 years ago) after the horrors of WWII, when the nations of the world unanimously approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Then they/we failed to empower the United Nations with any system or structures for enforcing them. 
Today we simply tolerate the sovereign rights of nations to violate human rights whenever and however they desire as long as it is within their own borders.   And, if they have nuclear weapons they can do it anywhere they want if they are not cowered by the nuclear weapons of other nations.   And, ‘we the people’ of the US … passively accept this immoral marker because we benefit most from it.  The cost in lives of hundreds of thousands of other innocent people and the quality of life of tens of millions more are simply the price of maintaining our nation’s ‘freedoms’.
Earnestly “illuminating the threats to our nation” would reveal far more than “the most important struggle for the soul and identity of this nation.”  It would reveal a growing list of grave threats to our nations survival -- as well as the threats to both the individual freedoms and security of every US citizen.
The most important thing we can do as any movement (Peace, Environment, Social or Economic Justice) can be summarized in just four words Mr. Gerson offered.  “Addressing the root causes.”  And in every case the root cause is injustice.  That makes ‘justice’ the one ‘cause’ that stiches all of these ‘movements into one.  Is there a downside of pledging “life, liberty and justice for all’?  Only to powers that be, that resist such a fundamental human desire.
If the Peace movement or other movements are serious about moving the US Congress to block the likely hood of catastrophic Trump consequences, please consider participating in a ‘global justice corps’.   It is an all-volunteer US campaign initiated early this year to build grassroots coalitions within all 435 US Congressional Districts.  It will take a local network of peace, environmental and economic/social justice organizations working alone or together to document the local benefits of global justice and the local harms from global injustices.
As Mr. Gerson, said, “The issues we address are inter-related.”  This fact, by its very nature, requires that our solutions be holistic and comprehensive.  In this context, the only single issue we can champion to sustainably fill that order, is insisting on “life, liberty, and justice for all”. 
This was the summary of a recent report by the ‘Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance.’ Read the 8 page summery at the Commission website: and decide if your Member of Congress should do the same.
The best way for this reality to be accepted by our Members of Congress is to document for them, the self-evident truth that Martin Luther King offered nearly 50 years ago.  "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
This fundamental principle is not foreign to our nation.  Inscribed above the entrance to the US Dept. of Justice in Washington DC are the words “Justice is the great interest of man on earth. Wherever her temple stands, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness and the improvement and progress of our race. “
It is not a new idea!   A few hundred years before Jesus Christ, Plato the Greek philosopher said "Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
After the horrors of the last World War Justice Robert Jackson gave us our marching orders in his Nuremberg address.  "The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberative and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched."
A Trump administration will likely exacerbate harmful events already in motion.  Events that will leave no American family or any family in the world, untouched.
Together we stand. Divided we fall.   This is no longer an American truth.  It is global.  A serious look at the array of threats we face (war, genocide, pandemics, climate disruption, loss of our antibiotic arsenal, economic instability, WMD proliferation, and the evolution of weaponry) and how they are all interconnected should suggest there is only one moral marker we need to remember.   “Liberty and justice for all’.
In the end it will be justice for all…or security for none.

For more information on how one can get involved in the 435 Campaign, contact

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas lights should not be about suffering.

Suffering for our Christmas!

(In response to

Reading this Washington Post opinion piece just before Christmas was shocking. Sure enough, looking at the printing on the box of the Christmas Lights I had just purchased, it said "Made in China".  I strung them anyway.  But this time, with a reverence for other human’s being strung up in violation of their most fundamental human rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I never about their suffering and I'd been working on human rights issues for decades.

I'm assuming the author's stories were not ‘fake news’.  He is known to have suffered personally in China.  But, even if some of his torture descriptions are not the norm I believe they happened, and likely still do, today somewhere.  Other similar torture techniques have been performed by US military and/or intelligence personal in our War against terror.  I’m confident it is no longer official US policy to torture or accept such practices anywhere else. But that could change in 2017.  And, there should be no doubt that they are still occurring daily in far too many places globally.  

Here’s the key thing for all Americans to know?  Our ignoring human rights violations anywhere, or even our unawareness of them, does not serve us, or our long term interests well.  In fact it can be downright deadly here at home.  We may get cheaper products from slave or low cost laborers somewhere else, but know that some American jobs will be lost.    That’s economically painful…but rarely deadly. That could change.

Trump’s recent tweet about reigniting the nuclear arms race will not end well for us or anyone.   Not because of a nuclear war with China.  Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is likely to remain a powerful deterrent to war between nuclear states.  But upping the numbers of such weapons will put some major cities at an increasing risk of being vaporized by a lose nuke.  Contamination for decades by a dirty bomb will always remain a threat as long as we use nuclear technology to better our lives in medicine or energy production.  The really bad new however?  We will be less secure as a nation from other forms of WMD.  All the nuclear weapons in the world won't deter a rogue nation or extremist group from being using biological, chemical or conventional WMD (think Cargo vessel packed with fuel oil and fertilizer).  Most of these dual use technologies will have no return address.  Some could kill millions, or disrupt our agricultural system and/or economy.  A cyber-attack could cripple any one (or all) of our systems (commutations, banking, transportation, energy, or essential public services like water and public medical/health services).  And, even a single nuclear bomb detonated above the East coast delivered in the belly of a fake airliner scheduled to land in Dulles Airport in Virginia?  It would fry much of our national infrastructure systems (the same ones vulnerable to a cyber-attack).  Testimony in a 2004 report by a US House of Representatives EMP Commission said “90 percent of all Americans would die within 12-18 months of an EMP attack”!

But assuming no WMD is ever used, the US economy will continue to weaken.  China's lack of human rights enforcement allows cheaper products to be sold globally at the expense of American jobs.  US businesses squawk about this 'unfair' playing field but rarely have a true concern for human rights violations, especially those that profit by moving their production facilities to China.   

In the long run Trump and his cronies would be far better off pushing for global justice than pushing to ‘up’ our already unmatched military capacity.  If Congress agrees and funds such a push it will cost American taxpayers billions we don’t have.  And, if other nations try to compete, more billions of dollars will be wasted globally making weapons that will most likely never be used in an all-out war.  But that money will not be available for improving the overall human condition which has far more security implications that a nuclear war.

China has another economic advantage.  It has a government that can turn on a dime.  It easily and swiftly outmaneuvers any changes that our intentionally sclerotic government system and increasingly divided government can make.    One thing that could help change that is for the angry middle class Trump voters should be urging our President Elect to strengthen every attempt to make human rights a higher global/UN priority.  Increasing or even decreasing the number of nuclear weapons in the world isn’t going to make us any safer from the growing variety of threats all of humanity faces. 

Today on C-Span an author on threats to our public health was talking about over use of antibiotics in large scale animal farms. She mentioned a recent discovery in China of a new pathogen strain of that gained resistant to the last antibiotic in our global antibiotic arsenal.  Where?  In a pig farm.  China’s economically mixed population has been the source several global viral threats (Swine flu, Avian influenza, SARS…).  It is inevitable that the world will experience another pandemic.  It could come from anywhere.  China’s one billion+ population of extreme rich, mobile middle class and significant number of poor, all mixing together with foreign visitors as well, and economic differences mixed with quality of life differences, should take on a new urgency.  . Regardless of a pandemics source, it will likely spark a global economic recession. And economic pain and the hunger that comes with it remains a driving force for war, environmental degradation, and more infectious diseases.

The more we, China, and the world can target improving people’s lives as well as the health of the health of the world’s food supply instead of trying to improve nuclear weapons or other alternative weapons systems, the better off all humanity will be.  In that light there can be no greater cause than fulfilling on all of the Sustainable Development Goals the nations of the world agreed to for the year 2030.  They will require more than money.  They will require a new look at the existing governing structures and systems that allow injustices anywhere to persist.

So enjoy your holidays!  And as the New Year approaches, consider making AND keeping a resolution for ensuring a safe, free, secure and prosperous future for all our children.  As well as generations to come.    Commit to educating your Member of Congress on why global justice is good for our health, our economy, our environment and our individual and national safety, security and prosperity.
The 435 Campaign only has 63 Congressional Districts covered as we end 2016.  Help us get to 435 before you string up your next set of Christmas lights.  They will represent what Christmas is really about.