One of the major headlines this week was that the impoverished socialist state of North Korea had agreed to limit nuclear tests in exchange for food aid from the U.S. North Korea also agreed to allow international inspectors to monitor its major nuclear reactor and will halt its long-range missile tests.
Unfortunately, while some experts are hopeful this might reflect a change in heart by North Korea, given its new leadership, most understand that this is likely just more of the same, as North Korea has made and broken many similar pledges in the past. Still, the U.S. agreed to provide 240,000 mt of food aid, with the potential for more, if needed.
In the end, this is essentially just a humanitarian gesture, as North Korea has been plagued for years by severe food shortages. Ordinary citizens who aren’t in the North Korean leadership or necessary for the regime to remain in power suffer a constant state of malnutrition, with up to millions dying of starvation annually.
However, I have to wonder, given our budget crunch, if one can justify the cost/benefit analysis if the food essentially only props up a failing despotic and dangerous regime. To justify this aid economically, it really needs to achieve some diplomatic goal of the U.S. Thus, I suggest we send North Korea some really good corn-fed, U.S.-raised beef. Here’s my logic:
All of the largest beef-producing and beef-consuming nations in the world happen to be democracies. If North Koreans had a taste of good American beef, I think they would become convinced to embrace a system that would allow them to eat in that manner every day. And, that’s a system that necessarily demands democracy and free markets. Who knows, a little steak just might help turn around this sorry part of the world.