Christians and Neocons Join Forces to Drag Us Into War with North Korea
Here's a story I stumbled upon while looking for something else. It has gotten very little media attention so I am going to go into some detail here in the hopes that it gets picked up by the lefty blogs. It could prevent a disaster.
North Korea is one of Bush's points on the "Axis of Evil." I'm not about to argue that Kim Jong Il isn't a nutcase or that North Korea doesn't present issues for the rest of the world, but I do think aggression in this case is a bad move. I'm not an expert on NK by any means, but from my dovish lefty perspective it seems caution would be the operative word in trying to undo the current regime.
Not so the Neocons. They've simply got to stick our ugly American noses in there, despite the potential consequences. And they're doing it with help from our old friends from the "Christian Right."
Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, introduced the "North Korean Freedom Act of 2003", which is still being reviewed by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Representative Jim Leach of Iowa introduced the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which is with the House Committee on the Judiciary until July 6th. The text of the House bill is reportedly less confrontational than the Senate version. Both bills are strongly supported by the North Korea Freedom Coalition, which includes the following groups:
Aegis Foundation This is not the Aegis Trust, which boasts both Desmond Tutu and Bob Geldof on its board, but a organization in Virginia run by North Korean Doctor Jae Joong Nam. It does not appear to have its own website.
American Family Association This is an anti-gay Christian group run by Donald Wildmon, who is a member of the Council for National Policy.(CNP)
Christian Coalition Founded by CNP member Pat Robertson, currently headed by Roberta Coombs.
New York Commission to Help North Korean RefugeesThis appears to be a chapter of CNKR, which was founded in affiliation with the Christian Council of Korea. The group's American advisor is Paul Cedar, CEO of the Evangelical Mission America Coalitionand executive chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization.
Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism This is a pro-choice, gay-friendly group of Reform Jews who obviously are being used here for window dressing.
Concerned Women for America Founded by Beverly LeHaye, wife of Tim "Left Behind" LeHaye as a conservative answer to NOW. Tim LeHaye is a founding member of the CNP.
Defense Forum Foundation Founded by Chadwick Gore, husband of current president Suzanne Scholte. The DFF advises congress on foreign policy issues and is the go-to group for information about North Korea. Donald Rumsfeld was apparently a financial supporter of the DFF until he joined the Bush Cabinet. The board of directors includes the Project for a New American Century's (PNAC) Fred Ickle, and CNP member Ambassador Holly Coors of the right-wing, beer-brewing family. Scholte is also on the board of directors of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, along with former ambassador to China and current AEI fellow James Lilley, Brookings scholar Roberta Cohen and not one, but six PNAC members!
Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag This group maintains a website in Korean, so I can't find much information about them, but this indicates that they have been recipients of funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, a publicly funded NGO staffed by many familiar conservatives including PNAC members. Senator Evan Bayh, the sponsor of the Senate version of Brownback's bill, is also on the board.
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention I'll let these folks speak for themselves:
"Our vision is an American society, blessed by God, that affirms and practices Judeo-Christian values rooted in biblical authority" -President Richard LandLand is also on the record as saying that only Christians will be saved. (So much for the "Judeo" part of Judeo-Christian.)Frighteningly, Land is a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Freedom Society of America The only reference I could find to this group that wasn't related in some way to this coalition was this which indicates the Freedom Society is in Fairfax Virginia.
Helping Hands Korea Helping Hands Korea is run by the Family Care Foundation which is the non-profit arm of The Family. The Family, or Children of God, as it was formerly known, is a cultlike Christian group that came out of the Jesus Movement in the 60s. Ex-members report abuse, pedophilia, prostitution and polygamy.
Human Rights Coalition-USA Save North Korean Refugees This group is primarily made up of Korean Americans. Its founder and president is Chun Chong You, a Presbyterian minister in Maryland.
Institute for North Korea Missions Strategy Who are these people? The World Center for North Korean Missions? The Institute for North Korean Missions? (site in Korean only)The Mission Institute for north Korea? (also in Korean?) It remains a mystery.
Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) From the folks who brought you "Schism in the United Methodist Church" and "Episcopal Extremists" comes "Liberty Initiative for North Korea!" Funded by monies from the Scaife, Coors, Olin and Bradley fortunes, the IRD board is chaired by Roberta Ahmanson, wife of another prominent right-wing philathropist: Presbyterian Reconstructionist-turned-Orthodox Anglican and CNP member Howard Ahmanson. Other notables on the board are Mary Ellen Bork, daughter of Justice Bork and Deputy Director of PNAC, George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and PNAC, Richard John Neuhaus, also of the EPPC and a Bush advisor, Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute, and President Diane Knippers, who also sits on the board of Concerned Women of America.
The IRD was founded by Novak, Neuhaus and PNAC's Penn Kemble to counter the liberal politics of the Mainline Protestant denominations. Right-Web describes the group thusly:
For more than two decades IRD has advocated U.S. military interventionism. During the 1980s IRD attempted to rally U.S. Christians around a program of higher military budgets and military campaigns against the Soviet Union and allied countries such as Nicaragua, Angola, and Cuba. IRD was a leading advocate of U.S. military aid and intervention in Central America and the Caribbean during the Reagan administrations, and it routinely challenged the patriotism and the belief systems of Christians who didn'tÂt share its militarism and interventionist spirit.
So when these folks get involved in foreign policy it results in things like this.
Jabbok, Inc. This is another ambiguous name. There are plenty of "Jabbok" entities out there, but no Jabbok Inc. My guess is that it's this church in Maryland. Warning, very loud music on intro page.
Jubilee Campaign "Jubilee Campaign USA lobbies Congress on behalf of those suffering religious persecution and human rights violations." Faith Hooper-McDonnell of the IRD is on the board of directors. Director Ann Buwalda was scheduled to speak at this "Reclaiming America" conference, along with such luminaries as Oliver North (CNP), Os Guinness (Trinity Forum), Alan Keyes(CNP) and Gary Bauer(CNP,PNAC).
Korean Association of Church Communication There is very little information about this group, and their webpage is in Korean.
Korean Freedom Democracy League of America This is another group with no website. This indicates that they are in Fairfax, VA.
Korean War Abductees Family Union This appears to be a South Korean organization representing the families of people kidnapped by the North during the Korean War.
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees A Japanese NGO working to help refugees in Japan and elsewhere.
National Association of Evangelicals Diane Knippers of the IRD is on the executive committee, despite the fact that her church is not a member. (Knippers is an orthodox Episcopal who attends the same church as Oliver North and Clarence Thomas.) NAE President Ted Haggard is a member of the "Presidential Prayer Team."
CitizenÂs Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees This is a South Korean group with no website. Bae Jae Hyun is listed as various positions within the group, including President. A South Korean named Bae Jae Hyun is listed as a student at the Ministry Training College of New Zealand It's possible they are one and the same, but I can't find enough information on this group to know if it is a Christian one or not.
Salvation Army, U.S.A. Most people think of the Salvation Army as a charitable organization, but it's really a conservative Christian denomination. Some funding for the church comes from the usual suspects.
Stand Today "Stand Today is an international advocacy organization dedicated to raising awareness and promoting action specifically on behalf of refugees and persecuted Christians worldwide. Stand Today works to advance the cause of human rights and freedom of religion for all people." A look at the links page reveals that Stand Today is closely allied with the other organizations mentioned above.
The steering committee for the coalition reveals even more connections to the Christian Right and the Neocons. Deborah DeMoss Fonseca, in particular, has an interesting history. A member of the wealthy DeMoss family, she was Jesse Helms' Latin American (including Nicaragua) expert for 10 years. During that time, she worked with PNAC director Randy Scheunemann. Scheunemann later drafted the Iraq Liberation Act and served as the executive director of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq with other familiar PNAC members.
The ultimate goal of the CLI was war with Iraq, despite any posturing about the good of the Iraqis themselves. The North Korea Freedom Coalition seems poised to take the same path.
The North Korean Freedom/Human Rights Acts are designed to do three things: address human rights issues in NK, assist North Koreans in need and protect North Korean refugees. No thinking person could argue with those goals. However, the manner in which those goals are achieved is more likely to cause harm than good. Proponents of the act have put a section by section analysis online here.
The principal effects of these acts would be to:
-Release 2 million dollars each year for 4 years to "support programs by private, nonprofit organizations to promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, and a market economy in North Korea."
-"Increase radio broadcasts into North Korea by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America"
to release 2 million dollars a year for 4 years to "increase the availability of non-government-controlled sources of information (such as radios capable of receiving outside broadcasts) to North Koreans."
-Spend 100 million dollars a year in food aid, provided that "any such increases should be conditioned upon substantial improvements in transparency, monitoring, and access"
prohibit any U.S. non-humanitarian aid unless NK has made "substantial progress toward respecting basic human rights, providing for family reunification, resolving abductee cases, reforming its prison camp system, and decriminalizing political expression."
-Circumvent the South Korean constitution by allowing North Korean refugees to apply for asylum in the U.S.
-Circumvent the United Nations Commission on Human Rights by designating refugees from North Korea as a "Priority 2 group of special humanitarian concern."
-Pressure China and South Korea to allow U.S. access to North Koreans seeking asylum and dictate refugee and asylum policies in those countries.
Not surprisingly, there is opposition to these bills in South Korea among community development groups, civil groups and individuals. The general consensus is that these bills antagonize both North and South Korea as well as China, endanger North Koreans by providing them with illegal radios broadcasting illegal propaganda and may actually stop the flow of refugees from North Korea by inspiring China and South Korea to tighten up their borders.
Hazel Smith, a British academic currently at the United Nations University criticized the Senate bill in Jane's Intelligence Review, saying
"Clues to the bill's real import can be found in continuing high level pronouncements by Brownback's fellow neo-Conservative Republicans, such as Bolton, Undersecretary of State. Bolton was a senior official of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the influential Washington DC-based think-tank that has provided the foundation for much of the Bush administration's thinking on foreign policy. When asked by journalists what the Bush administration's policy was towards North Korea, Bolton replied that the aim was "the end of North Korea" the title of a book written by an AEI colleague."
John Feffer wrote in the American Prospect earlier this year regarding the Senate version of the bill:
"In addition, a provision in the bill lays out conditions for North Korea to meet before achieving its two key objectives, the elimination of U.S. trade sanctions and diplomatic recognition. But so strict are these conditions -- they include, for example, such high standards of transparency and democracy that even U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Nigeria are hard-pressed to meet them -- that one might reasonably suspect that the sponsors want North Korea to fail and thus become further isolated. Linking human rights with the nuclear issue, meanwhile, may ensure that neither issue is adequately addressed in the upcoming talks. And even if the legislation ultimately did lead to regime change, such an outcome might not be desirable: The absence of any credible alternative to the government of Kim Jong-Il would create a dangerous power vacuum in North Korea, trigger a potential humanitarian crisis and leave thousands of dangerous weapons in limbo."
In a May, 2004 column on TomPaine.com, Feffer adds:
"Inconsistent and hypocritical, the United States has become evangelical in its policy on North Korean human rights. This evangelism certainly has a Christian tinge from the faith-based approach of the current administration. But the neocons in Washington have a much wider sense of mission: to save the souls of North Koreans by changing their government. Whether most North Koreans share this mission or are willing to risk the consequences is not a concern of the Washington missionaries. They will flirt with apocalypse to get the rapture of regime change, and North Koreans who have suffered so much already will bear the brunt of it."
There has been very little mainstream media coverage of these bills in the U.S. This is not surprising, since the bills do not bear up under scrutiny and its in the coalition's best interest to keep them quiet. It's time for us to write to our Senators and Representatives and ask them not to vote for either of these bills. It's time to write to our newspapers and expose the foreign policy mistakes this administration has waiting in the wings. The Iraq Liberation Act was snuck by us with little fanfare by the same players and served as a forerunner to the mess we've made in Iraq. Don't let the Neocons and Christian Right drag us into North Korea as well.