Saturday, March 15, 2003

Back in North Korea, the WFP has made a dismal forecast that several million children might die this year as the organization could run out of food by June without more donations from the international community. Barring new donations, hospitals will run out of medicine next month. Donations have gone down sharply since last year, apparently due to tensions over the North's drive for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Earlier, North Korea had lost to Afghanistan in a contest of the urgency for help. Donor fatigue has been another factor in the continuous downturn in international assistance.

In a way, it is a harrowing question whether the leaders of these "rogue states" must be disarmed and removed by all possible means, so the innocent victims of their failed governance can be liberated from the gruesome reality. "Regime change" may well be considered an expedient solution to the dictatorship and economic failure under these notorious men. But this would be so only if America's "quick war of surgical attacks" completes its desired missions - hitting targets without heavy "collateral damage," or the loss of huge faceless masses.

Few wars have been fought in such an immaculate manner, however. Though without bloodshed, no less ruthless than an armed conflict is the current state of silent suffering of millions of people behind the heavy curtains of repressive authoritarianism. The prolonged standoff between Washington and Pyongyang over the latter's clandestine nuclear weapons may be a source of exciting news for international media. But think about the torturous hunger and terror prevalent in the secluded society.
President Bush would do far better to switch his apparently imminent war plan to assisting the country in building its infrastructure and mustering the strength to stand on its feet and feed its starving people. Likewise, Washington must look for ways to engage the wayward North to persuade it to give up its nuclear ambition to rescue its populace from a looming famine.

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