The U.S. is the world's leading humanitarian nation and has been one of the largest donors of emergency food to North Korea. The New York Times insists policymakers should continue to focus on the humanitarian virtues of giving food to madman Kim Jong Il while ignoring unpleasant realities, one of which is that doing so may not be in the security interests of the U.S., the region or the suffering citizens of North Korea.

The UN says that North Korea will need international food assistance again this year, which is tragic. This time the U.S. needs to understand that the primary causes of food shortages in North Korea are their disastrous economic policies and corruption. One example of North Korea's modus operandi is that U.S. food aid is routinely diverted from starving people to benefit the military and the elite.

One of our closest allies, South Korea, shares the Korean peninsula and a heritage with North Korea, yet they are refusing to give aid this year because the Kim regime will not accept responsibility for killing 46 South Korean sailors, as well as other unprovoked military attacks that took the lives of South Korean soldiers and civilians.

China, rich neighbor and fellow socialist dictatorship, should be North Korea's food supplier of last resort, perhaps joined by Iran, Syria, Pakistan and other states that engage in illegal nuclear proliferation.

Peace, stability and the welfare of the North Korean people aren't enhanced by having U.S. taxpayers help keep the Kim Jong Il dictatorship afloat. Doing so would send the wrong message to the wrong dictator with the wrong attitude at the wrong time.

Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore