The WFP’s Findings Parsed, by Marcus Noland

[Marc Noland of Peterson IIE has done extensive work on the entire food assistance situation, including the facts on the ground, and the policy dilemma of whether food aid has the unfortunate byproduct of unintentionally helping to underwrite the DPRK’s nuclear program. He weighed in on the Food Aid Debate on 5 April 2011.]

The World Food Program, Food and Agricultural Organization and UNICEF have released their potentially fateful report on the North Korean food situation (formally, “WFP/FAO/UNICEF Rapid Food Security Assessment Mission to the DPRK, March 24 2011″). Although these assessments are a staple of public discussions on North Korean food security issues, for multiple reasons the balance sheet exercise that is reported is almost surely inaccurate, possibly by a large margin—if taken seriously, the past WFP/FAO reports would imply that North Korea was in almost continuous famine for the past decade, something no one asserts.

Nevertheless, these reports are so central to the public discussion that they are worth parsing. Read the rest of this entry »

Chairman Kerry Urges Resumption Of Carefully Monitored Food Aid For North Korea

[Following a warning by the WFP on 24 March that six million North Koreans are in urgent need of food assistance, confirming results of a similar study by five respected U.S. non-governmental organizations conducted in February, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) issued this statement urging the resumption of carefully monitored United States food aid to North Korea.]

All of us harbor deep concerns about the character and recent conduct of the North Korean government. It is tempting to withhold food assistance until North Korea abandons its pursuit of nuclear weapons or adopts economic reforms. But the North demonstrated during the famine in the mid-to-late 1990s, in which an estimated 5-10 percent of ordinary North Koreans died, that it is willing to allow its people to suffer enormously. As Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell recently testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ‘the choice really, is whether these people are allowed to starve.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Reaction to the NK food crisis by Mitchell Reiss

[This continues the discussion on food aid published in the Nelson Report on 5 April 2011. Mitchell Reiss, President of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, was a former US State Department policy planner.]

Starting in the first term of the Bush 43 Administration, USAID director Andrew Natsios articulated the three prongs of a humanitarian relief strategy: (i) real need, (ii) more severe need than other places, and (iii) our ability to monitor the food distribution to ensure that it reaches its target audience. This was a more complete articulation of the first Reagan Doctrine that stated that “a starving child knows no politics.” Read the rest of this entry »

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