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Col. David Maxwell Discusses Security Situation on Korean Peninsula


Col. David Maxwell
Col. David Maxwell

Colonel David S. Maxwell spoke about recent events in North Korea on Nov. 9 for the Fifth Annual General Josiah Bunting III Veterans Day Lecture. He addressed the Kim regime and how North Korea’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) informs global security.

Col. Maxwell is no stranger to the subject. He is a 30-year veteran of the United States Army who retired in 2004 as a Special Forces colonel. His experience lies in Asia, having served overseas for 20 years in Korea, Japan, and the Philippines.  He is currently associate director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

While recent news perpetuates a sense of fear, Maxwell assured the audience that there is nothing to worry about, at least for now. Using extensive knowledge and firsthand experience, he described the goals of the Kim regime.

“All their decision making is about survival,” Maxwell said. “What we forget to remember is their second goal of achieving unification between the north and the south.”

Maxwell contends that Kim Jong-un does not trust the United States, learning from the outcomes of Libya, Ukraine, and Iraq. He concludes that North Koreans share the sentiment of willing to fight and die for their country, and that Kim Jong-un’s priority is keeping a regime, with no succession mechanism, in power. Therefore, he supports the theory of eventual, and peaceful, reunification.

Maxwell envisions a country that is “stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government determined by the Korean people.”

Although Maxwell recognizes that reunifying North and South Korea is no easy task, he believes that educating the younger generation is a top priority.

“People have to be educated and that’s a start to breaking down the cultural gap,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell’s visit was a timely and informative lecture that helped encourage dialogue and the exchange of ideas. Even with 30 years of experience, Maxwell admitted that even he was a student, not unlike those in the audience.

“Let me say up front, there are no experts of North Korea. At best, I am a student of North Korea.”  

The lecture was sponsored by the AHI Undergraduate Fellows.

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