Feeding our enemies

Food aid does not reward North Korea’s bad behavior.

Daily Editorial Board

When the U.N. issues a report stating six million people are in need of international food aid, the U.S. is usually game for helping out. But when those six million people live in North Korea, the U.S. government sensibly takes a moment to think through the probable political implications.

U.S. food aid ended in 2009 when the North Korean government expelled monitors from its borders. Since then, the nation has advanced its nuclear weapons programs and is accused of twice attacking South Korea, a U.S. ally.

Though it may be appealing to deny aid to the defiant communist state, the U.S. must do so on humanitarian grounds.

A U.N. investigation was conducted in February and March, and explains that North Korea suffered a series of shocks including summer floods and a harsh winter, creating vulnerability and a possible food shortage.

There are ways of keeping this agreeable with U.S. policy. Chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., has the right idea. She insists there be full accounting of aid to make certain that it gets to those who need it âÄî not to support North Korean leader Kim Jong IlâÄôs regime.

And itâÄôs not just up to the U.S. to mollify the situation. President Barack ObamaâÄôs administration should be reaching out to other countries in the U.N. and asking them to lend a hand.

ItâÄôs understandable why some lawmakers are apprehensive, but just because this is a delicate situation doesnâÄôt mean we canâÄôt find a way to make it work. By restarting food aid to North Korea, the U.S. is taking on its humanitarian responsibility, not rewarding a nation with which we have no diplomatic relations.