- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2000

On the day that the United States, Western Europe, Russia, South Korea and Communist China were praising the dictator of North Korea before the world, this same person was stealing food and medicine from the country's most suffering children, waiting to die.

The famine that has wiped out 2 million to 3 million North Koreans, is the fruit of dictator Kim Jong-il's Stalinist agriculture policies. Relief and agricultural specialists in the country say that is hard fact, indisputable.

As a result, four foreign relief organizations have pulled out of North Korea, because the communist government would not allow them to decide which children get the medicine and food. They know by what they see and by expert information that the aid has not been going to the children in greatest danger but to privileged families of the communist apparatus and to the armed forces.

The withdrawal of Action against Hunger, a Europe-based philanthropic organization came only a few weeks ago. With it was an icy report that it was impossible to carry out aid work for the most vulnerable sufferers of malnutrition, because the regime was making decisions to divert and use foreign supplies as they wished.

But then the U.S. suddenly gave the North Koreans, one of the most closed and brutal of dictatorships, a lovely gift. Washington decided that Mr. Kim, who inherited his tyranny from his father and continued it ruthlessly, meanwhile building up a missile capability that worries the American military is, what do you know, not a leader of "a rogue state." Instead, they have been linguistically prettified into "countries of concern." This holds out the unwritten promise of billions of dollars in additional aid that will only protect Mr.Kim's regime and allow him to continue to steal from his people.

The question for Americans to think about hard and fast is: Why do we do these things? Why, to our own danger, do we strengthen the Chinese armed forces with the money and techniques we turn over to them, getting only huge trade deficits in return? Why is our president mute while our Western allies plan trade deals to save the skin and reigns of Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro?

Why have President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and George W. Bush acted as if Sudanese enslavement and slaughter of Christians and other religions in Africa does not exist? And, incidentally, why does Washington look on benignly while Germany and Russia tell us how much they admire each other and the possibility of partnership, a Russia that can take a leap back to KGB communism-fascism and become a gigantic "country of concern" itself?

Two reasons. One is a U.S. and European combination of commercial greed, strategic idiocy and an obsession with "globalism" carried to the point of unashamed crawl. Bless our fate that globalism was not existent in the time of Adolf Hilter and Josef Stalin and could not become the present mixture of new technology, half-based philosophy and fully baked appeasement.

Clintonites cherish the fantasy that North Korea can be paid enough ransom to forgo its missile program. They cling to that myth because they do not know how to get the most votes out of a U.S. anti-missile program build it, pretend to build it, build it partially or just wish it away.

Other countries, like Britain, Germany, Canada, France and Russia slaver for big oil contracts with Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Libya. The United States almost never squeaks out a protest. The thought lodges in me that our politesse mirrors the desire of American business to get a piece of all that oil action real quick.

The second reason: Americans, public and politicians, want to forget certain precepts and even are afraid of them. You know: All humans should be free, not just the ones who are luckily not currently enslaved. Murder is most foul the murder of an individual, and the murder of his clan or religion. And: From those to whom much has been given, much is expected. The liberties that grace our country are not ours to destroy in foreign lands by supporting dictators. The more we strengthen dictatorships militarily and economically, the more they will think they are stronger than they really are. The Saddam syndrome.

They also will believe we have gone weak in will and purpose to honor a Kim who steals milk from starving children and allow the Saddam we defeated to become the Saddam we will have to fight again. Again, the dictators will make decisions that lead to war. In 1952, those decisions were made by a communist regime in power, the one in North Korea.

A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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