Calling the country of North Korea a “prison run by a sadistic warden," President George W. Bush urged the incoming Trump administration to avoid the current American policy of “strategic patience.”
Instead he says, recognize the humanitarian and military threat the Kim Jong Un regime poses to the rest of the world.
“North Korea presents the greatest sustained humanitarian challenge of our time,” Mr. Bush said in a speech at the George W. Bush Institute forum Tuesday morning called Light Through the Darkness: a Forum on Freedom in North Korea.
“North Korea represents a grave security threat. It shows how the proliferation of a deadly technology can allow small leaders, failed, cruel and criminal leaders, to threaten and disrupt the world on a grand scale," he said.
President Bush’s remarks, which were followed by panel discussions with North Korea scholars Victor Cha and Robert Gallucci from Georgetown University, Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado, former U.S., Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, and North Korean refugees Grace Jo and Joseph Kim, sought to keep North Korea in focus for the next administration.
President Bush signed the North Korean Human Rights Act in 2004, offering U.S. support for North Korean refugees. One of them was Grace Jo who escaped North Korea with her mother but lost several family members to famine in her home country.
“The current Holocaust is happening in North Korea,” Jo said in remarks to an international audience at the George W. Bush Institute. “So we have to face, and we have to open our ears, to the current holocaust and stop this more tragic tyranny for the future. That’s why we feel this is our mission and this is very important for us to tell our stories,” she said referring to fellow North Korean refugee Joseph Kim.
“North Korea is a remnant of the last century,” Mr. Bush said. “It’s one of the last cold war conflicts. It’s the last gasp of totalitarianism. The last fortress of a kind of tyranny that is beginning to leave the earth. One such tyrant that left the earth happened last week, Fidel Castro. Like the North Korean leaders, he imprisoned his own people. Like the North Korean leaders, he ruined his country’s economy. And like the North Korean people the Cuban people deserve better.”
“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," Bush said.
“This is a timely moment – after all, our country’s about to have a new Administration, which of course 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 toward disaster," he said.
President Bush’s entire speech and additional information on the Light Through the Darkness Forum can be found here.