Monday, April 28, 2008

Governments Will Fall

I can't help but look at stories like this and think about what comes next:

The U.N. World Food Program has flagged 30 nations confronting mounting food insecurity this year as a direct result of market forces; 22 of them are in Africa. As prices climb, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and other net food importers have been racked by civil unrest. Hunger is spiking in parts of the continent in patterns similar to past bouts of drought, floods or civil strife. In Mauritania -- a nation of 3 million straddling Arab and black Africa -- the number of people not getting enough food is up this year by 30 percent in rural areas despite a relatively good annual harvest, according to the WFP. A food emergency has been declared in broad sections of the country, with the food program rushing to roll out feeding stations.

U.N. experts, World Bank officials and aid groups fear it marks the onset of the worst food crisis in the region in decades; officials are calling for $755 million in fresh emergency food assistance from rich countries. Aid groups are already falling behind in their efforts to provide food across the continent, leaving even the poorest communities increasingly dependent on the market.

"This is the new face of hunger," said Josette Sheeran, WFP executive director.

Globalization was supposed to eliminate this kind of recurring disaster. With economists radiating confidence about the new efficiencies of the global market, the need for food self-sufficiency seemed almost archaic. In that new reality, global markets would provide the long-term cornucopia that the arid earth here could not, and at reasonable prices.

Globalization is the cause of these problems, not the solution. If you consider that having one genetic strain of seed material can lead to a lack of biodiversity, then that's globalization in a nutshell, pardon the pun. If the same seed grown in Iowa, Kenya and the Ukraine is susceptible to drought or some other type of failure, you have the makings of a global problem on your hands.

Everything has a cause and effect, and if people are starving and going without basic necessities, then the consequence of that is going to be unrest. Governments will fall. Revolutions will happen. Arable land that can sustain crops is going to increase in value, and armed men are going to protect their arable land or take it away from someone who is weaker. Flooding Africa with cheap arms and weapons means a greater chance of seeing ten or fifteen or even more regional wars could break out over scarce resources. If you don't think the issue of Ukraine trying to break away completely from Russia and become a separate entity matters, think of Russia starving while Ukraine feeds Europe. No, I don't think Putin is going to stand by and let that happen, either.

And, just in time, the Pentagon has created AFRICOM so they can "keep a handle" on all of these issues, right? Well, right now, they're temporarily based in Stuttgart, Germany.

No, that's not a joke.

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