Update: Here. It’s a must-read.
You have to see this one (via The Marmot). In a logical follow-on to “The Natural Death of North Korean Stalinism,” Professor Andrei Lankov offers practical suggestions for exploiting and accelerating a trend he identified previously — the political decline of the Kim Dynasty. I’ve previously called Dr. Lankov arguably the Western world’s only genuine North Korea expert; he’s one of those rare people you can listen to for hours in rapt attention without even taking part in the conversation yourself. Here’s one of his ideas that I like very much:
There are some 10,000 North Korean defectors living in the South, and their numbers are growing fast. Unlike in earlier times, these defectors stay in touch with their families back home using smugglers’ networks and mobile phones. However, the defectors are not a prominent lobby in South Korea. In communist-dominated Eastern Europe, large and vibrant exile communities played a major role in promoting changes back home and, after the collapse of communism, helped ensure the transformation to democracy and a market economy. That is why the United States must help increase the influence of this community by making sure that a cadre of educated and gifted defectors emerges from their ranks.
Gordon Cucullu and I advocated a similar idea in our Front Page piece; I recently referred to it as a “Reunificiation Corps” in this post, when I spoke of “training, equipping, and organizing a Reunification Corps of North Korean defectors whose job would be to help reestablish order and basic services during any occupation of the North.” That means I think it’s a great idea, and that I wish I’d laid the idea out in some detail before Lankov did, but I’ll get over it. I wonder if any Pentagon or Blue House planners will ever give it a second thought. I doubt the idea will gain any traction as long as Roh is in power, or as long as we continue with what appears to be a profound policy shift in Kim Jong Il’s favor.
Lankov’s entire piece is subscribers-only, so I can’t vouch for all of it, although I admit that I can’t wait to get my hands on it. One mild criticism of Lankov’s piece is that he underestimates the interest conservatives, particularly those in Congress, have in engaging the North Korean people. The interest in isolating the regime from finance and dual-use technology does not equate to a desire to help Kim Jong Il keep his people isolated. In fact, it is Kim Jong Il, not John Bolton, who would be most likely to object to what Lankov proposes.