Two stories at the British Guardian caught my eye. The first is the Guardian’s announcement that its readers think Private Bradley Manning deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. You’re not imagining things. Britain’s Left — at least that portion that answers unscientific online newspaper polls — thinks that the man who stole thousands of classified U.S. government documents and gave them to a man hostile to America, who in turn published them, leading to lots of boredom and, unfortunately, many deaths, is deserving of a “peace” prize. The only thing that makes this logical is that you and I understand that “peace prize” is a misnomer. What it really should be called is the “Nobel Hate America, Individual Freedom, and Capitalism Prize.” Called by its true name, Manning is a perfect recipient.
The other story is one that’s both unbelievably tragic and that highlights the Left’s moral blindness. The story is about a terrible famine affecting North Korea. Here’s the Guardian’s take on the famine:
Footage of malnourished North Korean orphans and official warnings over failed harvests have given a rare glimpse at the scale of devastating food shortages in the country following a harsh winter and widespread flooding.
North Korea has struggled with its food supply since the crippling famine of the 90s, and its biggest donors – South Korea and the US – have yet to decide whether to resume aid suspended in 2008, while rising global commodity prices have exacerbated its problems.
The Reuters AlertNet humanitarian news service, which shot the new video, was allowed to make a tightly controlled trip to South Hwanghae, a farming province in the country’s arable heartland. The team reported signs of severe malnutrition in children and medical staff said they lacked the drugs they needed.
“The natural disasters of last year and this year have forced the people to live on potatoes and corn. Because people aren’t taking in proper nutrition, the number of in-patients has increased. While in May the number of inpatients was about 200, we have had around 350 inpatients each month from July to September,” said Jang Kum-son, a doctor.
Kim Chol-jun, paediatrician at a school for orphans, said heavy rainfall and flooding had also contaminated water supplies, leading to digestive diseases.
The governing People’s Committee said a bitter winter destroyed 65% of South Hwanghae’s barley, wheat and potato crops, and that rains, flooding and typhoons had destroyed 80% of the maize harvest. Officials added that they expected less than half the usual rice crop this month.
What’s missing from this story, with its focus on rainfall and flooding (some of which I assume affected neighboring South Korea) is that North Korea has had a perpetual famine problem. This is not a weather related famine problem, although you wouldn’t guess it from the Guardian’s coverage. Instead, it’s the same famine problem that affected the Ukraine in the 1930s and China during the Great Leap Forward: It’s called a Communist-caused famine, and it occurs when a tyrannical centralized government destroys markets, designates food and farmland for favored citizens, diverts most of its resources to the military that props it up, and generally uses its citizens as servants of and tools for a small cadre of privileged people.
Did you notice, too, that the South Koreans are feeding their starving neighbors? On the one hand, I totally understand it. They don’t want hordes of hungry, nuclearized North Koreans swarming over the border. On the other hand, it’s a shame that they’re propping up a dictatorship that’s systematically starving its own citizens. I’m not exaggerating with the systematic starvation comment. When I quoted from the Guardian, I left out a paragraph that provides the Guardian’s single nod to the fact that nature isn’t the only one at fault as North Korea’s children die:
Some suspect that Pyongyang may be hoarding crops to ensure there is plenty of food next year. The North has pledged that 2012 – the centenary of founder Kim Il-sung’s birth – will be the year it becomes a major power.