Sebastian, thank you for organizing, hosting, and posting. I enjoyed the session and the discussion that followed.
I posted a few words on my blog about the discussion that followed (which, by the way, was on point and thought-provoking; for anyone considering attending one of Sebastian's sessions, I highly recommend them).
At the risk of too long a response on your blog, I'll copy what I wrote, since the discussion that followed felt relevant:
One of the first questions people asked was if I worried I was overly sympathetic to North Korean decision-makers. My goal is to understand them and their perspective, which people sometimes interpret as support.
It bears repeating that understanding doesn’t mean support. If you want to influence someone — what else do we strategize about? — I consider ignorance of their perspective the least productive starting point. Once you understand that understanding doesn’t mean support, you begin to learn about them. Then you can influence them.
Come to think of it, a less productive starting point than ignorance is beginning with condemnation. No matter how justified you feel, you can rest assured the person you condemn won’t share your opinion. They’ll feel misunderstood if you lucky. More likely they’ll feel more right than before.
You will lose credibility, since they will feel they know more about themselves than you do and you disagree on what they feel they know better, and they will likely reinforce their position. Now you have two parties who both consider themselves right and the other wrong.
Of course, if you have overwhelming force you can always overpower the other party, but, as the video shows, I believe no one has force that can overwhelm North Korea’s strategic competitive advantage. I also believe decades of history back me up.
Once you understand each other, you have a hope of influence.