Excerpts of Guardian opinion by Steven Weber, professor of political science at UC Berkeley:
Societies choose between spending to defend what they have, increasing current consumption, and building for the future. For decades now, the world has been subsidizing North Korea’s choice to invest massively in defense at the expense of both investment and current consumption.
Humanitarian fatigue may not be humanity’s most admirable trait, but it’s a real one and it’s not likely to be reversed unless the North Korean regime delivers something positive on security. And that’s less likely to happen if we keep the regime on slowly diminishing life support.
There are better choices: One would be to cut off aid entirely and force Pyongyang’s hand. The other would be to massively increase food aid so that the population actually receives sufficient calories to thrive.
Both strategies have obvious risks. Cut off aid and North Korea could strike out as a last ditch effort to force our hand in return. But Pyongyang might also be forced to spend more resources growing and buying food.
Double down on aid and North Korea might take advantage and happily divert yet more of its resources into the military. But it might also take the signal of peaceful intentions as an opportunity to go further in its ever-so-slight opening to the world.