Via the UN Wire, another tragedy in the making that we can watch unfold in slow-motion:
A top United Nations official on Wednesday described worsening food shortages in Southern Africa as “the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world”.
James Morris, executive director of the UN’s World Food Programme, said that the coming year’s food crisis would be “worse than in 2002,” when drought put millions of people in the region at risk.
Separately, the International Red Cross on Wednesday launched a $27m appeal for Southern Africa’s food crisis, which one official called “a silent, slow-onset disaster.”
In 2002 and 2003 international and private donors responded generously to television images of hungry children and failed crops in the region of Africa worst-affected by HIV/Aids. But this year aid agencies are struggling to raise funds for southern Africa from an international community numbed by a series of global emergencies, including hunger crises in Niger, southern Sudan and Ethiopia.
Maybe we can play word games like we did with the genocide in Darfur and Rwanda, and instead of calling this a famine or mass starvation, we can just say that a new diet is in the testing phase in certain parts of Africa. Or maybe our bureaucrats and our neo-Malthusians can package this as part of a new UN Population control program.
Then we can sit around and do nothing while millions die, and we don’t have to feel bad about ourselves. Because hey- what were we supposed to do?
More here from the World Food Program, and here is another detailed piece on the emerging crisis. Contact your congresscritters here.
Rumor is that Bush is appointing Rove to look into it
The only way this will ever stop in these countries is if the tyrants are removed. We are damned either way. If we help to feed them, which is the only moral solution, then the bad government is released from its obligation to ensure this doesn’t happen, and can continue to oppress the people. If we don’t feed them, they will die.
Well, OK, what are we supposed to do? Does anyone know of a few spare infantry regiments just sitting around and twiddling their thumbs? Maybe we could just send the rest of the Army National Guard to Zimbabwe.
And how, perchance, would we pay for ending this famine?
Both troops and treasure are rather over-committed at the moment, it would seem.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the aid we DO give these countries all fucked up in terms of efficiency, etc because we insist on using American companies and buying American corn, etc.? So while the neighboring African country has a bumper crop of corn (or whatever) rotting away, we are shipping stuff over there…?
I remember hearing something about this a few weeks ago. And this isn’t even a snide Bush-blame either.
Though, I will blame him for all the abstinance bullshit wih healthcare over there.
Low Carb. Ship cattle, they’ll keep until needed.
The word games on Rwanda were disgusting. If I were Dee Dee Myers I’m not sure how I would live with myself. Oviously the policy wasn’t hers but it is something that would haunt me for years.
Oh, but John, you’re putting it so crudely. We aren’t testing a new dietery regime.
By creating calorie restricted conditions we are trying to reduce the need for abortions in subsaharan Africa. It’s well established that women exhibit reduced fertility in calorie restricted conditions, so we are simultaneously reducing the need for evile contraceptives are reducing the abortion rate there.
Mugabe brought this on his country by burning out the white farmers. He is to blame, and any aid sent his way will be ciphoned off by him and his effing cronies.
Does anyone know more about the geography of southern Africa? I thought there was lots of arable land there. Am I wrong? Is it hopelessly overpopulated there now? My leftie cousins always blame white people for Africa’s problems, saying, “well everything was okay there before the white people came”. Is that really true? And if it is, is it because the land was not so overpopulated there and could sustain farming for its people? Anyway, I need to know more about this before I can come up with my own opinion on this.
Depends what you mean. The population was much, much smaller, and in large areas of what are now Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, the locals were somewhat migratory and depended on livestock and light agriculture. The Zulus were also pretty enthusastic about conquering their neighbors and the viciousness of that tended to keep populations down, too. Just as with the arrival of the white settlers on the American Plains, food production skyrocketed after modern agriculture was introduced. Along with it, the population grew.
Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa also have another big problem: land distribution. White farmers got all the good ground between 1880 and 1920 and they still own it. But those farms tend to be very productive, so breaking up the farms to give to the majority blacks disrupts food supply and economic activity. See, as exhibit 1, Zimbabwe. There are other problems, cronyism and corruption being chief among them.
But let’s say we wanted to solve the famine crisis in Zimbabwe tomorrow. We’d have to break Robert Mugabe’s grip on power and then figure out some way to preserve public order while a new regime is established and food is distributed. That cannot happen without soldiers — ours, or somebody else’s. And we don’t happen to have any (see my comment upthread) to spare.
Well okay, thanks for confirming my idea that over-population has a role in the famines there. That, as well as the corruption I guess. Hard to understand how the corruption goes all the way down to the food though.
scs, I think the average American has no idea in the world just how far corruption can go. In Zimbabwe, for example, there is essentially no functioning regular marketplace for food now. Five years ago, Zimbabwe relied on regular and large exports of food for its foreign exchange. Now, there’s just international handouts and the black market.
Here’s an example, scs. During the most recent election, the ruling party restricted food distribution to non-supporters, many of whom had been run off their land by Mugabe’s “supporters” previously. Do you think that the message “support us or we’ll let you and your children starve” won’t come through?
The only way to fix Zimbabwe is to invade. Think we can convince Dubya that Zimbabwe’s enough like Somalia that he’ll have a bigger dick than his dad if he pulls it off?
You’re right, best to talk the tyrant into doing the right thing. After all, history has shown that talking doesn’t put the talkers in danger at all, and everyone knows talking is the key to ending tyranny.
Donating food is not enough. If we’re serious in this country about overthrowing dictators but don’t want to mess around with things like reconstruction, we should just pay some mercenaries to assassinate thugs like Mugabe. One step better: find a suitable, pro-western replacement (ideally western-educated) who understands the importance of order and property rights, and that country would turn around very quickly.
This is going to get flamed, but hear me out. Why not allow a corporation to sponsor an ouster? Tell me it wouldn’t be better than what many of those countries have now. And a corp. has much to lose if things go wrong. it could be toast in weeks if enough people boycott it due to mistakes. In any case, it can’t be much worse than a gov’t performing an ouster. Note before you attack that I am not a corporate-shill. I am deeply suspicious of anything large and propped up by gov’t. But it’s just a thought…
Judas Priest. Mr. Rossie is either smoking his copy of Ayn Rand or he’s on something almost as hallucinatory.
Dude, what happens once you’ve assassinated the strongman? Hm? Does the powerful, august Zimbabwean state simply cough up a Pericles from among its Oxford-educated ranks? And is this Pericles grateful to the white, Western outsiders for meddling in Zimbabwean politics through assassination? Hm?
Or do you end up with something rather approaching what we now have in Iraq — a war of all against all?
If the result of your bloody little fantasy is anything less optimistic than the Very Best Hopeful Outcome From Assassinating Another Head Of State, then you’d better plan on providing at least 100,000 troops to maintain order.
Where will they come from?
And I left the best for last.
Tell you what. You get Microsoft to sponsor the ouster. Then, if they fuck up the aftermath, you organize the boycott. Let us know how that turns out.
First of all, this is just bullshit, and second what exactly would you do about the Mugabe situation?
Two thirds of our soy is genetically modified. Almost half of our corn is genetically modified. We don’t separate that out most of the time because nobody here cares as long as the stuff is fit for human consumption. The EU has put barriers in place so that if we ship corn there, we’re getting refusals from African countries for fear of losing their biggest 1st world market, the EU.
The rationale is that farmers are taking food aid and planting some of it, using it for next year’s seed. This is an old story and there’s nothing really wrong with it except the left has scared the EU into banning such crops on bogus grounds like the “precautionary principle”. So US aid stays in warehouses here and people die so that african countries aren’t banned from their largest markets and more won’t die (hopefully) next year. This incredibly cruel policy on the part of the EU doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should.
It’s too bad that America is the only country capable and willing to do anything, but we are so tied up we would be forced to throw another country, Iraq, to the wolves.
Most of Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America will see this as being another “act of genocide” and then blame Bush for Iraq being a “quagmire.”
I think that stickler’s points are well-taken and I’m a little concerned about a one-size-fits-all approach being taken. Different countries have different problems. Some countries like Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have land distribution problems (too much land in too few hands, re-distribution to political cronies, re-distribution to people who don’t know anything about farming, etc.)
But look at a map of Africa. An enormous amount of it is between 15° N. latitude and 15° S. latitude and in those areas not only do they have land distribution and political problems but they have desertification due to over-grazing and inappropriate farming techniques. Livestock raising is enormously complicated there by various parasites especially that borne by the tsetse fly.
So, yes, we need to give food aid—there’s an immediate problem. And, yes, we need to figure out a way to encourage good government there (our efforts to date haven’t been too successful). But we’ve really got to realize that it’s an enormous problem.
I want to second TM Lutas’s point (which came in while I was typing) as well.
well, if the poor people of Southern Africa had any sense, they would immediately invite some Al Qaeda types to take up residence, thereby forcing the US to take notice, overthrow their government, and spend a billion dollars a week there….
oh yeah, and they would also find a way to convert their dead into oil, just to make sure that Bush holds up his end of the arrangement.
I was serious. Except that I should have used “wang” instead of “dick,” for superior rhetorical effect.
Plus wang is just funnier. All the polls say so.
Precisely. Seriously, though, when a leader is perfectly willing to keep his subjects in abject poverty — and has the power to maintain control anyways — we’ve hit the limits of soft power. At that point, it’s either invade or don’t. If we do, we need to be able to explain to a mom in Kansas why her kid is dead in a country that she can’t find on a map. If we don’t, we need to be able to explain to ourselves why we let these things happen. These aren’t particularly pleasant choices, but that’s what happens when one reaches the limits of one’s power.
Once again we see the vaunted “international community” including the UN leaping into action to prevent another genocide / famine.
This is why I am torn between puking and laughing everytime someone says we should have used the “international community” to deal with Afghanistan, Iraq, and the world terror situation.
Until the “international community” can deal with genocide and famines in a serious fashion they can’t be considered useful for anything but generating platitudes and lots of paper mostly useful for recycling.
And the eco-freaks dont want these people to have plentiful food becuase they worry about the nonsense of over population becuase they,ve read PAUL ERLITCHs phonie book THE POPULATION BOMB