Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called for an escalation in the fight against global hunger. Clinton, speaking at a summit in New York, said that "food security is about economic, environmental, and national security for our individual homelands and the world."
This is the kind of leadership America needs to craft an effective foreign policy, one that fights world hunger with vigor. In fact it was another Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, who said almost to the day in 1947 that "hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace." Marshall, at that time, was also a member of President Truman’s Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs.
Marshall emphasized that "food is the very basis of all reconstruction," and this notion was central to rebuilding Europe after World War II. Without food, no peace or reconstruction plan has a chance. We must remember this when trying to help countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and so many others.
In her speech Clinton talked about a U.S. plan to boost agricultural production in developing countries. While this plan is being enacted, there also must be emergency funding to meet the current hunger crisis.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), facing a $3 billion shortfall, is being forced to cut programs for those who depend on the agency for survival. Cutting rations for starving people is no strategy for peace.
Congress needs to act, and pass the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation. The Roadmap bill would create a White House office to coordinate the U.S. response to hunger. Clinton, in her speech, emphasized the need for effective coordination at all levels. The Roadmap bill would do just that by creating a global hunger advisor to work with President Obama and the Cabinet.
Ambassador Michael Klosson of Save the Children says this advisor "would be dedicated to keeping food security on the agenda and in the public consciousness." He also points out that this high-level office would improve international cooperation as well. "That's the type of coordination that can really make a difference in people's lives, and in a way that directly improves their well-being and serves our national security interests."
We know how to end hunger, but for some reason the resolve from political leaders is not strong enough. This may be changing with Obama and Clinton’s leadership, but much more remains to be done.
The plan to boost food production in developing countries is key to long-term success. But right now programs like the McGovern-Dole initiative that provides school lunches overseas need to be strengthened to give all children a chance at a future.
What can a citizen do? Write to Congress urging that they pass the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation and strengthen existing programs like McGovern-Dole. You can also visit the State Department’s website for more information about fighting hunger.
With enough public and congressional support it is possible to defeat world hunger. As Heather Hanson of Mercy Corps says, "The real news is not that people are hungry – but rather that they don't have to be. We can end hunger in our lifetimes."
Click here for a video of Secretary Clinton's Remarks at the Food Security Summit.