I’ve described a system where when all actors act in their interests, everybody loses, except perhaps a few dozen decision-makers in North Korea. I’ve described what I think won’t substantively change the situation in North Korea. Yesterday I wrote about what wouldn’t change things.
One of the greatest lessons I learned in business school applies here, as well as to all so-called moral problems:
If the system leads to only undesired outcomes, change the system.
Changing a system rarely happens by changing one part of it unless the system depends on that part. To understand systems, I know of no better resource than Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows, which I recommend reading. For thoughts on how to change systems, I recommend her essay Twelve Leverage Points (pdf).
The points I see leverage are
- China’s support for North Korea
- Reducing the risk to North Korean leaders of political change
- Increasing interaction between the outside world and North Korean citizens and organizations — mainly through trade, tourism, sports, academia, and arts
- Reducing domestic support for the North Korean regime by giving alternative sources of history to North Korean people to the government, minimizing threats to North Korean decision-makers
I don’t put military options on the list because the missiles North Korea points toward South Korea could reach tens of millions of people and major economic areas within minutes. As I wrote before, North Korea effectively holds South Korea and Japan hostage.
I’ll try to add to the list. If you have ideas, please share. In the meantime, I’ll post on the above points of leverage.