>Food is NOT a Weapon of War


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If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:17

I am growing increasingly concerned about what has been termed, the Militarization of Aid.

Last week Dr. Christophe Fournier, the president of Doctor’s Without Boarders spoke out against the military control of aid saying that dispersing of food and medical supplies is usually done with strategic objectives in mind rather than humanitarian ones. Dr. Fournier cited Kabul, Afghanistan as an example where these supplies are still desperately needed but aren’t getting through because it is a politically stable area. Instead the military is diverting aid to outlying areas as a way to “win the hearts and minds of the people.” This policy is sure to backfire. Not only are they planting seeds of destabilization in the areas they neglect but by aligning with a military force in a hostile area humanitarian aid workers and even the recipients of aid are becoming targets themselves.

Of course the argument is that the humanitarian aid convoys need the protection of the military to do their work otherwise they wouldn’t be able to travel into some of these areas at all but is that really the case? What would happen if the Red Cross, or Red Crescent as it’s known in the Muslim world were to engage directly with the Taliban, no strings (or military convoys) attached?

Indeed what would happen if one man, acting alone, with a truck load of food were to set out from Kabul on a sort of Robin Hood mission to the first group of hungry people he met? Would he get shot or kidnapped? No – most likely he’d get arrested and brought back to the city for his own “protection”.

But what if he did manage to make contact with the locals? I think he’d be a hero and likely do more to win the hearts and minds of the people in one afternoon than the military could do in a month. Of course the other point is that he doesn’t need to set out from the relative safety of Kabul at all. There are plenty of hungry people right there in the city that aren’t receiving any assistance from the military and are slowly turning to the insurgency themselves.

This past week the United Kingdom hosted a conference on the future of Afghanistan in London. By my count there have been at least 5 such conferences held in various cities around the world since 2002, in Geneva, Rome and New York to name a few. There is always big talk about development and of weaning farmers off opium production but not once have we come away with any kind of concrete plan for addressing public health or food security. The conferences have never been held on Afghan soil and you cannot affect lasting change unless the most effected stakeholders are present.

It’s time to stop treating Afghans like children and give them a stake in their own future. Even invite some Taliban leaders to the table provided they aren’t affiliated with Al-Kida, and see what happens. If you truly want to win the hearts and minds of the people, put down your guns, pick up some bread and start talking.

What have these irreligious Christians come for that they write on their cards, “don’t approach, keep away”? If these bloody foreigners try to stay away from us, then for what reason have they come to our country? Posted on a pro-taliban website; Kabul, Afghanistan 2002

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2 thoughts on “>Food is NOT a Weapon of War

  1. >I agree food should not be a weapon of war, but the fact is that it is. This is not exactly a new thing. The concept of "seige" is as old as the concept of war itself. The problem with Afganistan is that the soil there is so poor,if you can get food to grow, it will be nutrient starved. Also, long bitter winters, and semi-arid conditions as far as rainfall make growing food difficult. The UN bans America sharing genetically engineered crops (such as corn and wheat that will thrive in the sahara) for fear that such crops will "infect" the native crops. Heaven forbid it if a continent like Africa and places like the middle east could grow corn or wheat in the deserts and become self sufficient. Why does the UN take such an interest in maintaining a center of starvation in Africa? It becomes a place where it can claim a constant need for programs like the "oil for food program" in Iraq that made UN delegates and Iraqi warlords rich. The strategy you give regarding "bread" and Taliban leaders was the exact strategy used successfully in the troop surge in Iraq.Bread in this case was food and money which was offered to insurgency members and leaders to help us rather than fight us. (That really didn't make the 6:00 news). Here is my humble opinion on what should happen in Afganistan. The bottom line is first lets get all UN and NATO troops out. They are ineffective an everything but standing by why little girls are raped in Darfur and overseeing genocide in the Balkans. 2nd, since America is adding the debt for this war to our spiraling national debt, we need to end it as fast as possible. This means doing two things: Making sure that Afgans can defend themselves and providing seed stock(the genetically engineered kind) so that they can grow their own food. The status quo leaves Afgans no option besides subsistence from growing opium that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are getting rich by refining. We cannot win in Afganistan as long as this cycle of exploitation is allowed to continue. Unfortunately, while having many sects, more than half of the Taliban shares a belief that anyone not believing and behaving exactly as they do is a militant and must be killed. There is no such thing as a civilian to them. That is a concept so foreign to us that it is hard to comprehend. For them, there is no such thing as compromise. The UN is a useless, toothless worthless nest of corruption and genocide and should be dismantled. Afganistan is a perfect example of UN management on display. As far as your truck and the locals, I believe you think wrongly and let me explain why. The Taliban/Al-Qaeda militants are imbedded in the population just as "republicans" or "democrats" are imbedded in America. Their rule is that if someone accepts help from, or collaborates with westerners, they and their family will be executed once the westerners leave so your truck will be met with distrust and fear and likely a suicide bomb committed an unwilling person knowing that AK 47s are planted at the heads of their entire family. Afaganistan is not a place of peace and love. Our ideology simply doesn't work over there as you cannot change 3500 years of history in 5 years. We went in there to eliminate the Taliban Government. We did that and should have left when we were finished and let the Afgans handle their own business. Now Obama is expanding a war over there that he has no desire to win. I think it is the worst decision of his Presidency.

  2. >Add to your reading list "The Tower of Babble" by Dore Gold. It is a complete history of the UN. It explains how the UN went from being a basically good thing to being the den of corruption that it is today. The Author was Israel's ambassador to the UN from 1997-1999. The book was endorsed by Henry Kissinger who served under Nixon, Ford and Carter.

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