Seven ways to get serious with North Korea
February 14th, 2013
10:24 AM ET

Seven ways to get serious with North Korea

By Michael Mazza, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Yesterday, GPS heard from Cato Scholar Doug Bandow, who suggested a hands off response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test. Today, American Enterprise Institute research fellow Michael Mazza suggests a very different response. The views expressed are his own.

Tuesday morning on the Today show, senior Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett asserted that North Korea’s nuclear program “doesn’t strengthen North Korea. It makes it more vulnerable.” If only that were so. While the North’s nuclear weapons do contribute to its international isolation, it’s not at all clear that Pyongyang has any interest in joining the “world community,” as the president so often suggests.

In fact, North Korea’s nuclear achievements have, to date, made it feel less vulnerable. First, they provide leader Kim Jong-un with fodder for domestic propaganda, which may help shore up the regime. Second, and perhaps more importantly, they enhance its nascent nuclear deterrent. Kim and his cronies are already confident they can act with impunity, as they did in carrying out deadly attacks – indeed, what should be seen as acts of war – on South Korea in 2010 with the sinking of the Cheonan naval vessel and the shelling of Yeonpyeong island. As they continue to deploy their own nuclear capabilities, that confidence will surely only grow.

In its January 22 resolution in response to North Korea’s last missile test, the U.N. Security Council conveyed “its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test.” The Obama administration may appreciate the Security Council’s good intentions, but it should by now realize that the U.N. body is unlikely to impose measures sufficient to change the thinking in Pyongyang. It’s time for the president to take significant actions of his own.

More from CNN: What now Q&A

Such moves should convince Kim that this latest test makes him less rather than more secure. After all, it is clear he will not alter his behavior unless he is made to regret his actions. But how might the president make Kim reconsider North Korea’s current trajectory?

Here are a few suggestions, some more provocative than others. In all cases, these measures would be more effective when carried out alongside our allies, especially South Korea and Japan.

1. Park an aircraft carrier off the coast of North Korea and engage in regular and sustained bilateral and multilateral naval exercises.

2. Blockade North Korea's busiest ports. Allow nothing but food, medicine, and other essentials into the country.

3. Designate as a “primary money laundering concern” any bank – including those in China and Europe – providing financial services for the North Korean regime. This worked to great effect with Banco Delta Asia in 2005. Treat North Korea as the criminal enterprise that it is.

4. Re-designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism

5. With satellites and/or stealth aircraft sent into North Korean skies, track Kim Jong-un's movements. Provide any imagery to the press.

6. Pressure governments – including friendly ones – to cease tolerating North Korean front companies operating within their borders, like this one in Taiwan.

7. Work with South Korea to expand broadcasting and other information operations aimed at providing more of North Korea's people with more information about their own country and the outside world.

If we simply “do the usual drill," as Ambassador Susan Rice has put it, the only thing we can be certain of is that we'll be faced with going through the drill again and again in the not-too-distant future. It's time for a new approach to North Korea: one that the Kim regime will actually take seriously.

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Topics: North Korea

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soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Jay Dee

    I expect this guy to continue building nukes until he gets one with a powerful enough load to wipe out a big city, and continue to launch missiles into space like they are conducting routine space maneuvers, all the while preparing for a "Quarterback Sneak" and sending an unsuspected nuclear missile into the USA, while we sit here expecting for it to pass over......until it is too late. This guy is the fox in the hen house.

    February 18, 2013 at 8:19 am | Reply
  2. Rob

    One of CNN's better articles, and like all of the suggestions. Its better than what Obama is doing, which is the typical liberal pacifists, do nothing, and anger nobody cause their so scared to do so. They're so afraid of being criticized war mongering bullies, and afraid of the UN, because we exercise a little pressure to a rouge country that has been able to get away with crimes against its own people and neighboring countries for over 60 years. Another mistake in America's foreign policy that was made in the 50's that still goes against the US today. America is #2 now, where China has become Victorious. Everybody from George HW on, remains at fault for policy towards China.

    February 18, 2013 at 9:45 am | Reply
  3. Brittney

    A blockade will only bring on a war people. How is creating a war going to cause N. Korea to get serious? One thing they will get serious about is answering this as a call for war. Honestly that's not what is needed.

    February 18, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  4. K. Ph-Cambodia

    There are so many comments on this article, good and bad, however, I still want to add one more comment. it's not my idea, it's NorthKorean letter to the wold people: Dear World People:

    For decades, North Korea was threatened by hostile foes with nuclear weapons. With our safety constantly at risk from violent intruders, we asked: How can we possibly defend ourselves? In the immortal words of my dad, the glorious Kim Jong-il: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke.”

    I sleep safely at night knowing that a loaded nuclear silo is as close as the launch button on my nightstand. And now I understand what Dad, in his genius, instinctively knew: that the world will not be truly safe until every nation has nuclear weapons.

    Perhaps because these weapons are so necessary to our defense, the U.S. government, with its lapdogs at the United Nations, is plotting to take them away from us. But as Dad used to say, “When they come for our nukes….”

    That is why today I am founding the Nuclear Retaliation Association to defend the sovereign right of every nation on the planet to engulf that planet in a hellish inferno. If you join today, we will waive the initiation fee and send you this bumper sticker: “Nuclear weapons don’t kill people. People kill people who don’t have nuclear weapons.”

    Peace out,

    Kim Jong-un

    February 18, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
  5. thesaj

    These are ALL flawed and dangerous policies. Only a fool would implement such.

    We need to learn from Cuba. It's been embargoed for 60 years and no change. All the embargo does is let Castros point to evil America for all their problems. Ron Paul was the only politician willing to admit that the embargo is an utter failure. Over half a century and no change.

    Rather, when Fidel passed the torch to his brother, we should have lifted the embargo for 90 days.

    I am of the the opinion, that the way we altered communist China, was with envy and $$$. Same with Russia. People get tired of seeing a world that has, when they have nots.

    So rather that inflicting these embargoes on Cuba and N. Korea. We need to lift them, and allow commodity and luxury goods. When people see what others can and do have, they want for themselves. This increases political pressure.

    Heck, fly over N. Korea and drop some fun luxury goods like old iPhones and Game Boys/Nintendo DS. It'd have far more psychological affect than an embargo.

    February 18, 2013 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • dex

      Now there's some sense. You are absolutely correct in saying it was the money that dragged Russia and China away from Stalinism/Maoism and slowly toward market reform. When this started happening all of the beautiful american goods were showing these people that the west was actually 10 times better then what they'd heard and 5 times better then where they were. I remember a story of a North Korean defecting family recently and they bought with them their very young son. He was obviously far too young too fully understand what was going on and didn't seem to notice all that much difference. Until the reporter shows him angry birds on his Samsung and the kid goes crazy.
      Now that kid I can guarantee you will grow up anti-north.

      February 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  6. DL

    Wonder how we'd react if China had 26,000 troops & an air/naval fleet stationed 100 miles off our shore?
    We were ready to go nuclear w/Russia when they did it in Cuba... yet are amazed by NK's continuing threats & anger towards us.

    February 18, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
  7. Chuck,Long Island

    Let them test missles. At the same time we should test 3 of ours. Make sure that we give them the coordinates of where the are going to splash down. The splash down will be about 1/2 mile out side international waters. The missles will be sent from the mid-west. Also let them know the GPS coordinates of thei presidential palaces, military bases and any other places that can be used against us.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  8. Jd

    It's his great way of making money, those sanctions, bring him more. Beats all the other Don Corleone stuff he does.

    February 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  9. Mike

    I sure hope the world is not counting on the U.S. to support them if things hit the fan with North Korea. Our president (the hero to welfare recipients and unemployment) will be crawled up in the fetal position with a big wet stain on his pants.

    February 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Reply
  10. medovuxa

    I think they want to be attacked! Look at Iraq. If we attack them, the apologists will make us rebuild their country and bring them into the 21st century.

    February 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Reply
    • clinky

      medovuxa, That's a great insight, the BEST comment I've read here. North Korea is playing a losing game by acting the upstart bully. It's like a little kid who acts out because he wants to be scolded and needs discipline. It's a miserable life when you have no morals, and especially if you have no economic well-being either, like North Korea. They WANT to lose. They WANT the good life of the West. They WANT us to MAKE them join the South.

      February 19, 2013 at 1:58 am | Reply
  11. Don

    Agree with all except point #1 and 2. Joint exercises and stationing an aircraft carrier nearby could exacerbate an already hair trigger situation. I say starve North Korea of food, medicine.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  12. alligator face

    seven ways?.......heres ONE WAY......24 bunker busters with nukes on standby.

    February 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  13. Jon

    8. Execute a surgical strike on all NK nuclear weapons facilities. Minimum deaths – maximum results.

    February 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  14. f. Daniel Gray

    After all the beating of war drums by uninformed people, and the ludicrous assumptions of their posts, a little realpolitik is in order.

    The fantasy claim of the "isolation" of the DPRK is refuted by the undisputed fact that the nation has relations with 164 other countries. It has embassies in 42. And 25, nations have embassies in Pyongyang, the capitol city. Notwithstanding the unsurprising, China, Russia, there are, for example. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Brazil, Cuba, Bulgaria, The Czech republic, Germany, Poland, Sweden, UK, Romania, Egypt, Syria. I would say that, probably most of those nations do some kind of material goods exchange with the DPRK. Would our naval "blockade" forbid any nation to do so? Would WE demand that the embassies of those nations in Pyongyang be closed? Or those of the DPRK abroad be closed?

    The only hostilities I recall involving DPRK citizens abroad, involved the members of their women's soccer team at the London Olympics, when they refused to take the field because the flag of South Korea had been raised, even though that team was not scheduled to play. In fact, the team of 51 men and women, won 6 medals. 30 Nations won more. Of those that won any medals at all, over 60 won fewer than 6. for example: Norway, Argentina, Belgium, Finland, Indonesia, Greece, and Portugal. Not too shabby, for a nation, whose population is supposedly all 'starving." and has no knowledge of the "outside" world, no?

    It would be, and is, foolish to underestimate such a nation. Especially so, since its government has managed to persevere for over 60 years. Despite our objection to it doing so. It's not Haiti, Panama, Granada, or Libya. Get it?

    February 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Reply
  15. Henry

    what the world should do about North Korea is to leave them alone and not bother them for atleast another 5 decades or more...that way the Regime will have a much broader chance of collapsing in on itself. but as always there should be a contigency plan planned against N. korea should it take military actions before it collapses.
    so for the sake of everyone who is reading this just don't bother with them.....don't give any food aid to N. Korea and don't allow their brightest students to leave the country (hard to tell whos North and whos South coz they speak the same language.) and also just threatning them.
    if you white people have any brains left.....use the old medieval way of "STARVING OUT YOUR ENEMY" that way you'll get good results
    example: food shortages might lead into civil war and might lead to downfall of the North Korean Communist Regime. starving them out might take time but its' bloody damn worth it!

    February 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  16. clinky

    The next time North Korea announces a test launch, give them 24 hours to remove the rocket from the launch area. If they don't comply, fire some missiles to destroy the launch pad and the rocket. That will start to show them we mean business.

    Now, I can already hear the objections. "The North will retaliate and rain down rockets on Seoul." The fact is, North Korea always gets away with moving its nuclear program forward by playing on this fear. Sooner or later, we will have to call their bluff, and sooner is better than later.

    You think North Korea is going to strike Seoul? Seriously? And lose all the little infrastructure they have within a matter of days when we retaliate for hitting our ally? No, I think not. North Korea will kick and scream but do nothing because they can't. They already know they can't. We're the ones who haven't grasped the upper hand we still have left to play. We'll lose it, though, if we let them develop nuclear-tipped rockets of any range.

    February 19, 2013 at 1:24 am | Reply
  17. Frank M.

    Same old responses, same results. I say blockade their ports as mentioned, etc. Screw Russia & China. If we havent figured this dance out yet, oh wait, seems we havent. My bad:)

    February 19, 2013 at 1:34 am | Reply
    • CelestialOne

      Blockading their ports is a declaration of war. I am sure the NK will respond accordingly. Another half-baked idea that will result in an all-out war. The best US can do, stay out of the Korean peninsula. Let the Koreans deal with their own problems. The South Koreans have more than 50 years to prepare for their defense and it is about time the US withdraw their troops from the Korean peninsula.

      February 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  18. KEVIN

    Hi Fareed, how are you doing? CNN is getting boring this weekend. Apparently everybody at CNN took the weekend off. A good political – ideological subject to evaluate is our diff. on how we approach Iran vrs. North Korea on their threats towards the US. Is the World too much fun or what?

    February 19, 2013 at 2:02 am | Reply
  19. Brian

    The UN, or failing that, the US should inform the North Koreans that as their tests are for aggressive not defensive warfare, they must dismantle all facilities under international supervision within 3 months, otherwise they will be destroyed,

    February 19, 2013 at 6:19 am | Reply
    • CelestialOne

      Talking like a child. How is US going to destroy NK? You id!0ts never learn anything from the last Korean War. I cannot blame NK for wanting to testing their nukes especially when there are troublemakers like US in the Korean peninsula.

      February 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  20. kevin

    Rather than doing all those things, how about a different route? Drop all sanctions because they have nuclear technology just like India and Pakistan. Give North Korea a chance to be shielded by Chinese nukes so that they have no need for their own.

    Nowadays we have enough countries with defensive nukes which means no one is willing to use them offensively.

    February 19, 2013 at 6:34 am | Reply
  21. Dan

    Everything costs money, money Obama doesn't have.

    February 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  22. Sarah

    I'm usually not so blunt and undiplomatic but this article and the majority of the responses are written by ignoramuses. The nuclear test is to shore up Kim Jung Un's hold on the country, the upper echelons of the miltary would not be that stupid to actually use nukes against anyone because they know what the response would be. The DPRK has a population of 20 000 000. If it is opened up that one hell of a lot of people that need help – who do you think will take responsibility – South Korea, China?? more likely no one – as the sponsoring country would have to lift most of the country out from pre industrial revolution and 1980s technology (bar the nuclear programme). This isn't a GDR/West Germany situation. As for the various forms of isolating them further etc as listed by the author, the whole ideology is based on self sufficiency, they're not going to care if they are more isolated. The best case scenario is that their natural resources are exploited by China joint ventures and slowly the infrastructure of the country improves, and slowly the North Koreans are exposed to the outside world. Or China offers to make them a province as a previous commentator stated, but as much as there is a "relationship" between the two countries I doubt it'll extend that far. The situation that most North Koreans are in (unknowingly for the most part) is sad and should be dealt with with methods far more sophiscated then blockages and nuclear threats.

    March 3, 2013 at 8:20 am | Reply
  23. Donald

    Warning Warning Warning
    It is a worrisome state – unpredictable yet predictable.

    Q – How many times has North Korea bellowed it threat attack the US? At one point it is shouting wolf – but I believe it will be the wolf and will have to do something really drastic to convince the people he is the man that will now carry out the threat and do it without warning on US and South Korea – This will show his mighty hand – He is dangerously planning another Pearl Harbor but close to his regime where it will be most effective – instead of on us soil. I believe the element of surprise remains on the side of North Korea because he is always threatening and the US are not taking him serious enough. Now with all the cut backs i would not be surprised at all if Korea of some other ally like Iran do some jointly to take advantage of the moment.

    Nothing really has effectively worked with Iran nor North Korea and I fear they call for talks just to gain more time because they both manipulate the US and NATO, United Nations all want to have peace and have delayed the military restraints for so long that Iran probably already have the nukes in place and the military might with North Korea to cause serious damage to any threat from the US, NATO, and the united Nations.

    Beware Beware Beware

    NOT ANOTHER PEARL HARBOR PLEASE –

    Maybe I am just having a bad dream – BUT – Many of my predictions have come true over the years – I am afraid of this one I have seen it several times – North Korea's Warning – Iran's Denial = = The scratch of the match = an astounding surprise and then the aftermath of I told you so – We did not expect it – and the passing of the buck of why a little warning from a comment like this was worth nothing to look at because we on this side of the world – TAKE TOO MUCH FOR GRANTED – and the second Pearl Harbor – repeats itself – Shameful and sad. North Korea and Iran are to countries calling WOLF – BUT THEY MEAN IT – and WE ARE SITTING HERE LIKE DUMMIES THINKING THEY ARE ALL TALK – YET THEY ARE NOT!!!!

    March 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  24. Real politik

    I actually sleep well at night knowing one Trident submarine lurking beneath the surface can wipe out all of North Korea.

    Teddy Roosevelt once said... speak softly but carry a big stick.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  25. ameriKan

    i plan on leaving ameriKa , aka jewsa will move to north korea, i don't want my social security or pension i paid into after 49 years of working here. do not want my savings account [tens of thousands of dollars] want out want north korea can't stand breathing the air in ameriKa it makes me sick, ggogle joe dresnock my hero and ypo'll understand.!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 1, 2013 at 4:56 am | Reply
  26. R D Froth

    IMHO the best available solution would be for China to annex,by force, North Korea. After removal of Kim and the top military brass China could install new leadership as they have done in Laos, Hong Kong and Singapore. NK's military to be reduced to a national police force under the control of the Chinese military. I do not advocate Chinese expansion in any manner except for this situation. It would signal the end of any possible Korean reunification which is sad but far better than another, much more devastating, Korean war. I do not see any other reasonable solution.

    April 1, 2013 at 8:07 am | Reply
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    May 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Reply
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    June 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
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