Monday, May 2, 2011

Jimmy Carter's Moral Compass

Well, ordinary North Koreans may be starving again this spring, and by golly Jimmy Carter knows who's at fault. Hint: It's not Kim Jong Il. After his swing through Pyongyang last week, the former President blamed the U.S. and South Korea for refusing to send the hermit kingdom food aid without conditions.

"There are human rights issues that relate to the policies of the North Korean government, which I don't think any of us on the outside can change," Mr. Carter said. "But one of the most important human rights is to have food to eat. For the South Koreans and the Americans and others to deliberately withhold food aid to the North Korean people because of political or military issues not related is really a human rights violation."

So let's see. Kim Jong Il runs a dungeon of a nation whose policies cause repeated famines, but the U.S. and South Korea are morally obliged to alleviate the consequences of those policies even if this means helping the dungeon masters maintain control so they can cause more famines. Interesting.

Wouldn't it make more moral sense to try to depose the dungeon masters, or at least speak out against them? But Mr. Carter says he can't do anything about the North Koreans, so he denounces his own country in sharper language than he dares to use against a regime that murders and imprisons its own people. Interesting.

This is a familiar stand for Mr. Carter, who has been trying to help the Kim regime since 1994 when he free-lanced a deal to pay North Korea billions in return for a promise to halt its nuclear program. The U.S. and South Korea sent the aid, but Kim cheated from the get-go and still has his nuclear weapons. The U.S. and South Korea sent food as recently as 2009, reputedly with safeguards so it wasn't diverted to the military. The North Koreans soon refused to abide by the safeguards, siphoning off as much as a third to the military, and the aid stopped.

Now the U.N. World Food Program is sending more food to meet what it calls the "urgent hunger needs among 3.5 million vulnerable people." Some of it may even reach the suffering North Korean people, as opposed to the political prison wardens favored with visits by the morally discerning Mr. Carter.

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