No aid for North Korea so long as it threatens the South. And that’s just for starters.
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In fact, the administration ended food aid two years ago because the Kim government interfered with outside monitoring. And abuses elsewhere, such as Afghanistan, which in part reflect the ongoing war, should make Washington more, not less, careful in the future.
Nevertheless, Abramowitz is right to believe that politics likely is influencing the administration’s decision — as it should. Tragic as is the plight of the North Korean people, it is a political crisis. The Kim regime consciously disabled the economy and wasted much of the government’s resources. By seeking aid abroad while preaching “juche,” or self-reliance, at home, Pyongyang is asking other nations, including some routinely targeted as enemies, to deliver it from its self-created difficulties.
Moreover, the DPRK sees assistance from other governments as political acts. Were the North Korean problem merely an abundance of well-intentioned bunglers, the West could provide assistance with less concern. However, Pyongyang’s policies are conscious and calculated, and always were intended to benefit the Kim dynasty.
Thus, official food aid would indemnify Pyongyang for its disastrous economic and military policies. Assistance also would help keep the Kim family in power, to the deadly detriment of the North Korean people. Moreover, subsidizing a regime that constantly threatens its neighbors effectively subsidizes the threats, and the means to carry them out. High level North Korea defector Kim Duk-hong told the Wall Street Journal that food assistance “is the same as providing funding for North Korea’s nuclear program.”
Aid would relieve what little pressure the regime faces. For instance, there has been some evidence that rations have been reduced for North Korea’s military and the privileged residents of Pyongyang. Feeding more people today may strengthen the yoke of oppression tomorrow.
American food aid also would relieve the burden on China to support its client state. The Kim regime survives largely because Beijing provides substantial energy and food assistance. For its own reasons, the People’s Republic of China has refused to place meaningful pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program — in contrast to getting the North to attend talks on abandoning its nuclear program.
Since the PRC is committed to the survival of a communist North Korea, let China feed the North’s population. Chinese policy has helped make a starving yet nuclear-armed DPRK a reality. The problem should be placed in Beijing’s lap.
Of course, humanitarianism still understandably appeals, so the U.S. should not block private aid agencies which want to work in the North. Their work, at least, avoids placing an official imprimatur on Pyongyang’s decisions. The greatest human needs might be met while limiting the DPRK’s political advantage. But Washington needs to avoid doing harm while trying to help.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?