Feed vulnerable North Koreans say Brookings’ Cohen and Abramowitz

Brookings’ Roberta Cohen and Morton Abramowitz wrote a piece urging the US to increase food aid to North Korea. Although critics contend that increased aid would empower the North Korean regime, Cohen and Abramowitz write that history has shown otherwise. An excerpt below:

The American government has worked hard to be in lockstep with South Korea, but it should not extend that to changing its deeply held values. United States policy should be guided by its own traditions embodied in the doctrine enunciated by Ronald Reagan that hunger knows no politics. This policy served to justify food aid to starving Ethiopians under the thumb of a brutal communist and stridently anti-American regime. At the time, the same arguments against aid for North Korea were put forward, but the humanitarian imperative prevailed and it contributed to the eventual overthrow of Mengistu’s government.

Read the full article on the Brookings site.

Trapped in a devil’s bargain

Ambassador Christopher Hill, Korea Talks 2007

Christopher Hill - photo by US Mission Geneva

Christopher! My white knight in shining armor! What have you done, my champion of reason? For years I have admired you from afar, engaged in battles against irrationality and iniquity! Tell me you haven’t abandoned your quest! Tell me you haven’t succumbed to the notion that reason and compassion have no place in geopolitics!

I’m old enough to know better, but there’s a hidden region of my brain (right next to the amygdala) where I still maintain a private pantheon of heroes and role models. That’s where my image of Christopher resided. Until recently, that is. It’s very painful when one of my idols falls off their pedestal.

If only it were as easy to distinguish good from evil in real life as it is in vintage Wild West movies, where the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys wear black. Alas, reality wears camouflage. Black can turn out to be good; white can turn out to be evil. Like brilliant white snow in a spring thaw, Christopher’s image has turned a slushy shade of gray. Read the rest of this entry »

To feed or not to feed?

Wonsan Kindergarten (photo courtesy of EPD)

The following is the introduction to the newly released CanKor Report #334: Humanitarian Aid to North Korea by CanKor editor-in-chief, Erich Weingartner. Subscribe to receive the CanKor Report directly to your inbox.

To Feed or not to feed?

That seems increasingly to be the question facing humanitarian agencies and governments as they debate the question of whether and how to respond to what appears to be a new famine-in-the-making in North Korea. The writing is on the wall… or at least in report after report from the FAO-WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment of November 2010 to the most recent Food Security Assessment by five US-based NGOs at the end of February 211. The fact that 40 DPRK embassies the world over have been appealing for food aid from whatever sources they could find seems a good indication that even North Korea’s elite is feeling the pinch. Read the rest of this entry »

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