When North Korea isn't rattling its saber, it's rattling its tin cup.
This reclusive nation -- one that has struck one of the most consistently defiant and aggressive postures against the rest of the world over the past several decades -- is now asking, pretty please, if it can have some food.
North Korea, you see, isn't just starving for freedom and progressive culture. Much of its 20 million people literally hunger for the nutritional staples to stay alive. A famine almost two decades ago killed an estimated 1 million people there. More recently, a harsh winter, a flood and a ravaging livestock disease has made bad times even harsher.
So the North Korean government has now ordered its diplomatic offices worldwide to seek help.
From The Washington Post: "The request has put the United States and other Western countries in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to ignore the pleas of a starving country or pump food into a corrupt distribution system that often gives food to those who need it least."
That sentence does an admirable job of framing the issue.
Few countries other than North Korea provide a more vivid example of the folly of throwing good money after bad when it comes to foreign aid.
In past efforts, North Korea has thrown up so many barriers at every step of the food distribution process that agencies can't tell for sure if the food is actually reaching the starving populace. Too often, the food has been suspected to have been diverted to the nation's military, gifted to elites or simply resold -- and away from famished families.
Despite knowing this, the Post reported, "As of two years ago, the U.S. government ranked as the largest food donor to North Korea, giving 170,000 tons between May 2008 and March 2009."
And while the starving nation was waiting hopefully on its new foodstuffs to arrive, they mustered enough energy this week to threaten military retaliation against South Korea -- again -- amid its joint military maneuvers with the United States.
Enough is enough. If North Korea wants another bite of food from America, it should show undoubtedly that it is prepared to join the world's enclave of peaceful nations.