“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, April 11, 2008

Meanwhile, in afghanistan

This must be Clio’s year for poetic justice. There’s a good chance that, as President Backbone waltzes out of office, like a slacker’s version of the Juggernaut, Osama bin Laden, America’s favorite demon, will be waltzing into Afghanistan. Apparently the Bush economic policy of world class peculation for the wealthy, synergized with the huge Ponzi scheme of securitizing an infinite amount of debt in a finite financial space, is not only having the desired effect of boosting the price of oil for all his pals in the industry, but - as the dollar collapses - is also pushing grain prices higher to create the one two punch in Afghanistan: higher prices, less food. The neo-cons chuckled heartily about the liberal fear, as we invaded Afghanistan in 2001, of starvation hitting that country. They knew that you don’t order up starvation just like that – you have to really work at it. It’s the Marshall plan in reverse!

A blog that we are adding to our list, Abu Muqawama, has an interesting post on this today:

“Oil, Food, and War
The NY Times yesterday ran an editorial suggesting US culpability in an impending world food crisis. The basic argument is that rising demand for grains has been increased beyond a sustainable level as a result of environmentally-suspect drives to increase ethanol use in the US and elsewhere.

In Afghanistan in particular, but also in Iraq, food prices became a major and predictable issue over the winter. As always, ISAF charged with Economic Development and Reconstruction as one of its Lines of Operation and the recipient of most of the money we spend in Afghanistan, did little to nothing to prepare for it. Meanwhile, all through the winter, Afghan newspapers and news shows drew attention to the issue. With children dying and starving in the streets in Ghazni (the focus of several Afghan television reports) and elsewhere, it is imperative that we do something. Unfortunately, while ISAF could have done much to prepare for the crisis, the challenges ahead are daunting and larger than ISAF.

In Afghanistan, the ongoing food crisis is related to several factors, many of which were predictable. Unrest and insurgency in Pakistan have made the transport of goods from Pakistan to Afghanistan more difficult. Increased insurgency in Afghanistan has resulted in more difficulty in transporting goods. Increases in world oil prices have further causes increased transportation prices for food. The worst winter in Afghanistan on record (admittedly, a very short record going back only a decade) exacerbated transportation issues. Meanwhile the droughts of the 1990s compounded by deforestation, erosion, and global warming essentially eradicated the herds that provided dairy and meat for Afghan nomads. Additionally, activists worldwide have highlighted for several months an impending food crisis driven by, among other things, increased ethanol demands and rising meat demands by a larger Chinese middle class. Finally, massive imports of food by the World Food Program have resulted in depressing food prices, which provides an incentive for growing narcotics and a disincentive for producing wheat and other cereals.

With marginal food supply already resulting in more starvation in Afghanistan, the possibility that food insecurity could exacerbate insurgency is real and growing. A low harvest yield this year followed by increasing food prices may well provide the last straw for national insurgency under a new narrative that emphasizes Coalition presence in Afghanistan and the starvation of Muslims under a regime that finally was supposed to bring stability, development, and peace.”

This should surprise no one. Ruled by far side nosepickers, who are elected by far side nosepickers, we can only expect the worst, until the next time, which is even worse, and so on.

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