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Lessons from Boston and Dallas: We must unite, not divide, in the face of opposition

In a recent article at FOX Business, former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who served during the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, addressed the Dallas community following the “cowardly attack on 12 of Dallas’ Finest.” He correctly asserted that the recent “war on cops” doesn’t just fracture our nation, but draws our attention and resources away from the War on Terror.

“We cannot weaken our resolve with internal conflicts here in our own homeland,” wrote Davis, who will address the NCPA at a Patriot’s Day luncheon on September 9th.  Indeed, the Balkanization of the police and the neighborhoods they patrol creates a polarized and distrustful atmosphere at a time when law enforcement needs citizens’ help to identify potential terrorist activity. Any conflict will also siphon off critical resources needed to protect communities against terrorism. This self-inflicted tension distracts from the external threat of radical Islam –‒ a threat that makes no distinction among Americans.

Davis’ upcoming appearance in Dallas comes on the heels of Micah Johnson’s killing spree a month earlier, which left five Dallas police officers dead and nine more injured. Dallas Police Chief David Brown had previously achieved some success bridging the divide between police and certain communities. But the sad irony remains, as Davis points out, that the cowardly and unprovoked slaughter of innocent police officers “could have the potential to deal…a crippling blow to [DPD’s] community policing efforts.”

Davis also outlined some key areas of reform to ensure American can bridge the gap, including:

  • Employing impartial academics to collect and evaluate real data.
  • Improvement to police training in areas of de-escalation and training citizens on police authority and confrontation.
  • Help media outlets deliver accurate and timely information that avoid inflammatory statements and misinformation.

Now is not the time for internal strife.  The external threat of terrorism should inspire Americans to come together and resolve our internal disputes. We must gather as a nation to face a much greater threat. Otherwise, we may not have a county to argue over.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis will share his story as the lead law enforcement official at the time of the Boston marathon bombing in 2013 at the NCPA luncheon in Dallas on September 9th. Davis will recount the attack, law enforcement’s subsequent battle with the Tsarnaev brothers and the city’s continuing recovery effort.  He plans to also offer seasoned insight on how to counter the rise of homegrown terrorism and how that relates to the international fight against radical Islam.  For tickets, please visit

Foxnews – Gen. Mike Flynn, Allen West, Dr. David Grantham: Yes, we can defeat terrorism

This piece originally appeared at “The legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu rightly observed generations ago that “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” But he also taught that “if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” And right now, our strategy suggests we know neither the enemy nor ourselves.

That must change, and quickly.

The president refuses to know that our current adversary in radical Islam lives by an apocalyptic worldview – one that relies on unconscionable levels of slaughter to bring about its final caliphate.

One cannot rationalize away such an irrational ideology. No medieval battles over Jerusalem, no features of Guantanamo Bay and certainly no aspect of Western culture can justify this level of bloodlust. And yet the current administration stubbornly searches for a clarification that might explain that militant Islam is the result of something other than irreconcilable religiosity. It is a theme akin to “we have met the enemy and decided to deny its existence.”

This obfuscation and denial is the pattern of the administration, one revealed early on when officials termed the Islamic terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters” and combat operations as “overseas contingency operations.” This willful ignorance has prompted a dangerous mismatch in priorities. The president telling future military leaders, for example, that they are derelict in their duties if they deny climate change creates an environment of false truths, resulting in unsafe policy. Those on the front lines cannot defend against the threat when the threat is purposely misidentified.

It has also led to dishonest conclusions, such as arguing that the loss of territory equates to American military success, and the frequency of terrorist attacks represents the Islamic State’s desperation. Even those with a cursory knowledge of jihadists understand that the successful execution of an attack is seen as a signal of divine support. Frequency only strengthens their resolve.

One should never be so intransigent as to deny the truth of the enemy. That only concedes the initiative and gives the enemy an ability to outmaneuver you strategically.

Instead, we must get into the head of the enemy. All three of us have been there. It’s not pretty. There exists an unparalleled devotion to their cause; a fanatical adherence to Islamic conventions.

Take for instance Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda leader captured in 2002. His religious fidelity led him to actually thank his overseers for enhanced interrogation because, according to him, those captured were permitted by Allah to provide information once they reached their own limit for physical or psychological hardship. He said “you must do this for all the brothers.”

They are resolute in their convictions. They are dedicated to the slaughter of any who do not share their warped vision for the future. That’s the enemy.

But America must also know itself. Jihadists do not distinguish between black and white, young or old, poor or rich. Our enemy sees us all as Americans, and we should do the same. It is essential that we champion American exceptionalism — defined not as a pompous view of self, but as the beacon of light for individual freedom in a world lacking it. We must have a shared understanding that our country, our constitutional republic, will always be the last great hope for liberty. And above all, we must agree to protect it.

The government must also know its responsibilities. The next administration and each one thereafter must embrace its constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense, and must never put the interests of others above those they serve. Those leaders should clearly and correctly define the enemy, and articulate an unambiguous national and international strategy to defeat it.

Make no mistake; we are at war. And the enemy possesses an unalterable 7th century ideology with 21st century capabilities. But even the most dogmatic can be defeated. They have been defeated when the United States, leaders and citizens alike, chose to know the enemy and resolved to defeat it. From the Barbary Wars to Nazism, Imperial Japan to communism, America chose sacrifice over compliancy, bravery over fear. The American people squared their collective shoulders and faced the threat head-on.

All of this can be done. And we will do so with unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve. Knowing ourselves and our enemy will ensure victory.”

Why Divesting in Israel Hurts More than Israel

This piece was co-authored by NCPA research associate Danielle Zaychik:

“The self-styled Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been seeking to discredit and reverse Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinian Territories since 2005. BDS promotes an international boycott of Israeli products, divestment from Israeli companies, and exclusion of artists and academics from the Jewish state, among other things. Though the political aims of BDS are contrary to nearly 40 years of U.S. policy, the movement has gained traction in the United States, primarily in academic circles, and among religious and labor organizations. Divesting from Israel, however, would not only likely have negative economic repercussions for Americans and Israelis, but for Palestinians as well. Indeed, the entire divest movement has the potential to devastate the very people it purports to defend.

The Financial Cost of Divestment and Boycott. Punitive economic campaigns have reemerged as the weapon of choice for activists seeking to change the behavior of a given public corporation or the policies of a certain government. For instance, socially responsible investing (SRI) ‒‒ the practice of choosing stocks, bonds or mutual funds based on political, religious or social values ‒‒ remains a popular approach for political activists pushing divestment. State pension funds are a popular target for SRI and divestment activists. Despite their fiduciary duty to maximize the return for investors, some funds have made decisions based on political motivations or outside pressure. Investors in those funds have suffered the consequences. For example:

  • In 2000, the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teacher Retirement System sold all $800 million of their tobacco shares; but since then, the fund has missed out on $3 billion in investment gains and is now considering reinvesting in tobacco company stocks.
  • SRI funds routinely underperform traditional stocks; from 2004 to 2009, the worst performing regular fund tracking the S&P 500 Index fared better than three out of the four leading SRI funds…”

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General Flynn goes from the NCPA to the Republican National Convention

General Michael Flynn headlined the Republican National Convention Monday night with a rousing speech that laid out what the next president must do in order to protect the United States and its interests around the globe.

His comments echoed those he delivered only months earlier at the National Center for Policy Analysis’ biannual Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series — an NCPA program where nationally and internationally renowned speakers address business leaders, college students and the general public on the the nation’s most pressing issues.

In a passionate address to NCPA supporters in March 2016, General Flynn spoke at length about the specific threat from terrorist organizations, adversarial governments and cyber belligerents, and the overlap among them. Flynn stressed the need to improve America’s intelligence capabilities, and made a spirited plea for the administration to engage its allies and moderates in the Middle East in order to defeat the rising tide of radical Islam.  America must identify and work directly with those reformists like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi if we expect to see victory, Flynn said.

The defining moment at the NCPA event came when the General emphasized the importance of protecting national security information, and found himself genuinely dumbfounded that a candidate who so willfully compromised that material would still be considered worthy of the highest office.  The findings from the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server released months later proved she had quite deliberately (but without malice) undermined the national security of the United States.  As a veteran and former intelligence specialist like General Flynn, I found the compromise equally troubling, and now fear our intelligence capabilities may see a tremendous decline since sources who risk their lives to work with us will lack confidence that we can maintain their anonymity. I have addressed here why this extreme level of carelessness is so dangerous to U.S. security and why NOT charging Clinton further undermines our long-term capabilities.

Just as he had months earlier to NCPA guests, Flynn told the crowd at the RNC Convention that these threats facing America had to be confronted head-on with “unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve.” He also noted that the U.S. military needed the support to undertake the missions asked of them. The president’s recent troop requests for Iraq and Afghanistan, absent the funding necessary to do so, proved yet again that he intends to prolong the fight without providing the support to the warfighter to accomplish the mission. It does not have to be this way, though.

There is a way to maintain and increase troop levels without adding more to the budget. For example, rerouting funds away from ambiguous climate change programs and related civilian positions, and eliminating the climate directive issued in January 2016 which saddles the military with unnecessary tactical considerations, would be the first step in maximizing efficiency while stabilizing expenditures (explained here).  Another goal would be to address the rise in misplaced defense spending, which has only seen a decrease in American security — a paradox I have termed defenseless debt.  Solving the problem, in part, would involve decreasing and moving executive slush funds, like the Overseas Contingency Operation account, back under defense control, while limiting Pentagon staff positions and decreasing spending on expensive and potentially harmful security assistance programs in places like Africa.

Each of these would be a first step in properly funding defense capabilities and will ensure the warfighter has the tools to protect America. Flynn says the threat must be faced head-on. But our forces cannot do so when leadership has its head in the sand.


How Our Armed Forces Can Have Cost-effective and Efficient Medical Care

Nadeen Wincapaw is a military spouse and volunteer contributor:  “Active duty and their families have two basic options for medical care: a “Standard” option and a “Prime” option.  The standards functions much like a traditional insurance plan with co-payments and other out-of-pocket fees for the freedom to choose any doctor, facility, or specialist a family prefers. Prime operates like an HMO with a primary care provider (usually at a military treatment facility) who manages all the care for the patient and makes referrals as needed to specialists in a specified network (explained here). Under either of the plans, there is no monthly premium for active duty service members.

Once the military member has left active duty, either by finishing his/her contract, resigning his/her commission or by retiring (completing at least 20 years of active service), the service member can elect to receive medical care through the Veteran’s Administration, often with little or no out-of-pocket expense.

Sounds straightforward, right?

Well, it’s not.  No two bases’ medical groups are administered the same way; record keeping is different depending on location; quality of care depends on the branch of service; on and on it goes.  Even continued integration of services and joint assignments have failed to standardize medical care.  The quality of care for active duty and their families is not equal.

In the case of a retiree, the Veteran’s Administration duplicates the effort of the TriCare insurance program by providing a second source for treatment. But the VA has been plagued with reports of substandard care, dilapidated facilities, backlogged paperwork and, recently, secret waiting lists. Despite the plethora of issues, the VA annually treats millions of veterans at their 1,700 medical centers across the United States with a budget of over $50 billion.

The budget for the Department of Defense’s medical care was over $52 billion in 2012, and each year that number continues to rise.

It’s time for some real-world ideas on how to cut costs and fix the budget.  The best place to begin is in the duplication of services; medical care is one place where a consolidation of those services can be applied to save money, time, and effort.

All defense-related medical care could be folded into one joint medical command. This would include the Veteran’s Health Administration as well as the TriCare-affiliated care. One large joint command would have the benefit of allowing the standardization of administration, record keeping and personnel management.

Research and development would also be streamlined. Having access to any of the VA and military facilities would open the door for staff to expand their milieu and specialize in a field for advancement (a complaint I have heard from more than one DOD doctor). Allowing the current contractors of TriCare to take over the administration of the combined care would offer less bureaucratic red tape and a more business-oriented direction for the VA.

A modest savings of even 5 percent over the current budgets of the DOD and VA would equal $5 billion dollars.”

The Threat From Cyber Jihad

Luke Twombly is a research associate at the NCPA:

“It is easy to believe that bombs and bullets are the deadliest weapons in the Islamic State’s arsenal. However, ISIS continues to expand its cyber capabilities and might now be seeking to obtain “BlackEnergy” malware that was recently used by Russian hackers in December of 2015 to cripple a Ukrainian electrical grid. The attack left roughly 300,000 people without water and power for several hours. With this technology, ISIS could cripple the U.S. economy with relative ease, while at the same time paralyzing almost all aspects of the United States’ military.

The organization has already amassed an impressive digital presence, which includes an I.T. help desk for aspiring jihadists. ISIS is leading a campaign to educate young jihadists about how to navigate the dark web, while also introducing them to the tools and connections they require to perpetuate acts of war across the West. This cyber help desk is open 24-hours and uses a vast network of social media forums and applications. The operatives who run this desk have master’s level training in information technology, and use their education to train jihadists in obfuscation, propaganda and basic hacker tools.

One of those frequently used hacker tool is known as “Ransomware”, which is a type of malware that weaponizes encryption. The malware prevents the target from accessing their systems until they have paid a ransom to the attacker. This software is easy to purchase on the dark web, and unskilled or amateur hackers have used it with great success. ISIS, in particular, has been using this to fund their worldwide reign of terror. This “Ransomware” takes money directly from the Western economies and places it into the caliphate’s war chest.

Additionally, ISIS uses the internet to actively recruit college-educated Westerners who have the highest potential for harming their home countries. Almost 16 percent of ISIS recruits are college educated with another 30 percent having at least some college education, according to James Scott from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT). More startling, anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 men and women have been recruited out of Europe and the United States. The Islamic State has successfully recruited tech savvy westerners who pose the greatest threat to their home countries.

ISIS’ success in the digital realm is one of the instrumental factors that has led to them becoming the most dominant Islamic terrorist group in the world. Their use of cyberspace to recruit new members and rob the first world to pay for its jihad appears to be only a precursor to greater achievements, such as damage to America’s critical infrastructure through malware. A robust program of proactive cyber warfare that moves beyond intrusion detection and anti-malware creation should be a top priority for U.S. national security officials.


Why Not Charging Hillary Damages National Security

FBI Director James Comey recommended no criminal charges for Hillary Clinton. According to Comey, there was no precedent to charge Hillary Clinton for all the abuses he outlined in his 15 minute press conference.

That’s hard to believe.

Comey explained that no combination of the following existed:

  • No clear, willful mishandling of classified information;
  • The amount of classified material did not meet the threshold for prosecution;
  • The actions did not imply or infer a disloyalty to the United States;
  • There was no clear effort to obstruct justice;

He went to great lengths to explain that, in his estimation, her actions were incredibly careless. But they did not meet the criminal intent for even gross negligence.

But gross negligence does not rest solely on purposeful or premeditated intent. The definition of negligence includes carelessness. These rules were hammered into our heads as protectors of Special Access Program (SAP) information. Based on the law, an unwillingness to protect secrets got you in trouble. Your intent only determined the level of punishment.

So now I wonder, all the steps I took as a counterintelligence specialist to protect special access information really, in essence, didn’t matter. The paperwork. The tradecraft. The precaution. Any time I chose to follow even the most redundant rules for safeguarding SAP, Comey now says those were unnecessary steps because my heart was in the right place.

So why does letting Clinton walk matter to national security? The resolution to this case tells those guarding SAP information that mishandling it in an honest but clumsy way will be excused (depending on who you are). Even premeditated actions, such as building a private server to transfer information, will be overlooked if you didn’t intend that information to harm the United States. It’s hard to demand rigorous oversight when all someone has to claim is “I never intended for this to happen.”

The most frightening consequence of this decision, however, concerns the message it sends to our current informants risking their lives around the globe or any future sources willing to help the United States. Comey’s laundry list of misdeeds that climaxed with the stunning choice not to bring criminal charges told sources that the American government will not work terribly hard at protecting their identity, and will not take it seriously when exposed. I fear we just lost future access from many, many useful people.

National security succeeds based on information and a major portion of that information comes by way of sources. I explain here why protecting Special Access is so very important.

Eight Reasons Why We Face a National Security Problem

This originally appeared in my townhall column: John Kerry called the Istanbul airport attack a sign of desperation on the part of ISIS. The following observations suggest American leaders are the ones desperately clinging to failed strategies.

  1. Choosing symbolism over substance: Whether or not expressed explicitly, the administration demands uniformity of thought and diversity in appearance. As a result, upwards of 200 military officers have been “purged” for failing to acquiesce to a rudderless national security strategy that, among other things, subjects the military to costly and fruitless social engineering projects. A dangerous future awaits a country that diverts defense spending to that which offers no measurable benefit to military readiness. Woe to them who funds appearance over capability.
  2. Dangerous growth in government: Any expansion in government inevitably gives leaders an unwarranted sense of self (see the European Union). That remarkable hubris leads officials to believe, for instance, that they have identified the primary cause of weather patterns, and thus, have the power to fix it. A lack of consensus among specialists in this area is no match for such vanity. Assured of their position, big government saddles the military with climate directives that only serve to undermine its effectiveness. (see here)
  3. Faking moral outrage: The administration’s moral high ground is nothing but a false summit. And the latest sprint to the top in the wake of the Orlando massacre is fueled by widely vague notions of gun control and a staunch resistance to define the enemy. Government plans to drag America uphill to “Assault Rifle Ridge” only then to demand that citizens ignore the greater peaks that loom overhead, with names like “Emboldened Russia” and “Radical Islam.”
  4. Misinterpreting American exceptionalism: Some modern conservatives continue to rely on a misguided notion that all things American – democracy, capitalism and hot dogs – are inherently exceptional and, therefore, easily transferrable to all people. Such a simple interpretation inevitably leads to clumsy nation-building projects and unproductive security assistance programs. Both have increased defense spending, while doing little to enhance U.S. security. I call this defenseless debt.
  5. Misunderstanding American exceptionalism: John Kerry “cringed” at hearing the term. President Obama has lectured about its use. They incorrectly believe it to be a pompous vision of America where the ignorant believe the United States represents the climax of human culture, government and economy. Progressives then, ironically, respond with another form of American exceptionalism, which says the country’s faults and past misdeeds are, in fact, exceptionally American. Such a premise concludes that America is uniquely bad and all others endure as victims of that legacy. This leads to number 6.
  6. Prizing reputation over defense: The administration seems to be more concerned with its reputation among America’s adversaries than among those it governs. For this reason, we have the Iran nuclear deal. For this reason, what might inspire terrorism goes unstated. For this reason, Marines changed out of their uniforms four different times while readying themselves to respond to Benghazi, all because state officials felt embroidered American flags were potentially harmful to local sensibilities. We know the end of that story.
  7. Negotiating national security: The government must provide for the common defense. That’s non-negotiable. But 2015 marked the first time in history the Commander-in-Chief vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act for reasons unrelated to defense (he wanted more domestic spending). And when Congress acquiesced, both branches set the wrong precedent that the government’s constitutional duty to provide for the common defense matched their imagined duty to provide for the domestic welfare.
  8. National secrets taken lightly: The former Secretary of State completely compromised U.S. national security secrets, and still feels qualified to request a promotion. Either she displayed premeditated disregard for America’s security or, see number 5, excused the behavior because it only harmed an exceptionally unjust and discriminatory security apparatus. This breach is incredibly dangerous, as I have previously explained here.

America is a constitutional republic founded on a special of rule of law that allows for the truest expressions of personal liberty. And officials will not have a shared interest in preserving that legacy until the government can agree that defending America is truly its top priority.

Learning From Israel in the Aftermath of Orlando

Danielle Zaychik is a research associate with the NCPA: “As we mourn the victims of the Orlando attack, gun control is once again at the forefront of the political debate.  But the solutions should be more geared towards terrorism.  Having lived in Israel for an extended period, I made some observations that may help the readers understand how a country combats terrorism within its borders.  The following suggestions come both from relevant literature and from Israeli experience.

Aggressively pursue terrorist suspects: In light of ISIS’s encouragement of lone wolf attacks, the U.S. government must step up its attempts to identity and track potential adherents to their message.  Not only had Omar Mateen twice popped up on the FBI’s radar, a gun company and Disney both reported Mateen to the FBI because of his suspicious behavior.  While there is definitely a place for restrictions on FBI investigations aimed at protecting citizens’ privacy, the U.S. government cannot ignore the changing nature of terrorism.  Israel has seen success using aggressive counterterrorism measures, including targeting terrorist organizations’ use of information and communication technology.  Since these platforms are used to inspire attacks, the United States government could consider creating an aggressive surveillance, monitoring, and counterterrorism system that combats those efforts.  Additionally, integrating local police units into federal counterterrorism efforts is critical for safety and security.

Decrease vulnerability:  In general, the idea of increasing the presence of public and private security guards does not sit well with Americans.  It seems unfathomable to put a guard in front of every major terror magnet (including concerts, malls, and train stations).  However, this is precisely what Israel did; Israelis got used to living with security as a part of daily life.  The most recent wave of violence in Israel, the Jerusalem Intifada, consisted largely of lone wolf copycat attacks, inspired by the social and mainstream media.  Attacks have been primarily halted by security forces and the increased security presence in high-conflict places, like the Old City of Jerusalem, has likely dissuaded others.  It can work in America, too.  Placing security guards in schools, for example, became more popular after Sandy Hook without controversy.

Improve response time. Active shooters often do not stop shooting until they meet resistance.  Or will continue their attack elsewhere if they do not meet resistance at the first location.  In many ways the Orlando shooting resembled the Bataclan massacre, which also had around a three hour police response time, although the Orlando police properly followed protocol based on previous incidents.  But protocol in regards to response could be considered for change.  Finding ways to improve response time, as they have done in Israel, will undoubtedly save lives during the next attack.

Past domestic and international experience provides a blueprint for creating measures that could mitigate future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.  We cannot fall into the trap of crafting policy that tries to prevent the last attack.  We must implement measures that will best mitigate both threats similar to those we have seen in the past and new threats going forward.”

Can Sanctions on North Korea Prevent Conflict with China?

Braxton Clark is a research associate for the NCPA:

“At a time of increased Chinese militarization in the South China Sea, as well as an onslaught of government-sponsored cyber-attacks against American businesses and government, a door seems to be opening to improved Sino-American relations. China has been a staunch ally of North Korea for over 60 years, having provided the regime with decades of economic, military and humanitarian assistance. But China is now reevaluating its position towards both North Korea and South Korea.

North Korea has recently stepped up frequency of its missile tests, including those with the suspected capability of hitting American installations on Guam. And in expected style, these tests have utterly failed with one missile detonating immediately after launch. The constant antagonizing, the unpredictability and the fragility of the North Korean economy has driven a rift between it and China.

China has been slowly distancing itself from North Korea for some time due to its uncontrollable nature. The most overt example of this development came when China adopted and backed U.N. Security Council Resolution 2270 ‒‒ a resolution that includes Chinese cooperation on sanctions. These sanctions focus on the sale of jet fuel and the import of coal, which totals over 40 percent of DPRK trade. China’s participation in sanctions of this level is completely unprecedented.

Joining the sanctions signals a serious change in strategy for several reasons. First, according to the Congressional Research Service, China accounts for over 70 percent of North Korea’s trade. The trade relationship has generated billions of dollars for both nations. Therefore, any significant sanctions would theoretically hurt the Chinese economy. Although the Chinese economy is worth over $17 trillion, sanctions on North Korea would hurt merchants, companies and channels of commerce along their shared border.

Secondly, sanctions undermine an otherwise long history of Chinese support for North Korea. Since the Korean War started in 1950, China has provided arms, troops and supplies to their troublesome neighbor. In fact, during times of crisis, China has been the North’s number one supplier of humanitarian aid. Sanctions have suddenly brought decades of support into question.

To add insult to injury, China has decreased its cooperation with North Korea, while simultaneously furthering cooperation with South Korea. The Former President of South Korea Roh Tae-woo (1988-1993) introduced the doctrine of Nordpolitik, which aimed to repair relationships with northern powers, such as the USSR and China. He hoped working with the Chinese would isolate the North from its sole ally. Ever since China recognized South Korea as a state in 1992, they have worked towards building a functional relationship with one another. A 2014 BBC public perceptions poll found that people within South Korea and China are viewing each other with higher favorability annually. The report also determined that 40 percent of Chinese view South Koreans positively, only 32 percent view them negatively. Additionally, free trade agreements have established China as South Korea’s top trading partner. This shift, by extension, could improve China-U.S. relations.

The sanctions might provide a bridge to cross the growing divide between the two superpowers. And China seems ready to accept Western influence in the region, even if it comes in the form of South Korean soft power.”