The new U.S.-Russian START treaty will help save us, in time, from the massive expense of a large nuclear arsenal. In this post-Cold War world, smaller nuclear forces, with powerful conventional capability, are enough to take care of security needs.
We can now get our foreign policy priorities in order. A resolution in Congress (H. Res. 278) calls for more nuclear disarmament steps, which is especially critical with the threat of terrorist theft of these weapons.
Part of the savings from disarmament can be diverted toward fighting global hunger. Catholic Relief Services has set up a take action page urging the public to support this resolution, which currently has 34 co-sponsors in the House.
President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia deliver remarks at the signing ceremony for the New START Treaty at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The resolution states “the savings generated in the long term by significant reduction of nuclear armaments will be appreciable, with estimates as high as $13,000,000,000 annually…..Whereas the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimate that an additional $5,000,000,000 annually in global assistance for school feeding and other food supports could eliminate hunger and malnutrition among the world’s school-age children.”
We should focus more on the less expensive task of fighting global hunger. Right now, this issue is not given enough urgency in the halls of government, despite the fact that hunger could ruin our foreign policy goals in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Haiti, and so many other countries.
Take Yemen, as an example, where low funding for the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is devastating food relief efforts in that country. Victims of the conflict in northern Yemen may lose their rations entirely. Some food programs for children, including school feeding, have been suspended since last year.
Interestingly, the Senate passed a resolution late last year stating how important it was to save Yemen from becoming a failed state. The U.S. obviously has national security interests there because of Al Qaeda’s large presence in that country.
Yet, unfolding right now in Yemen is the very thing that can topple that state faster than an army — hunger. Another case is Sudan where low funding for WFP may lead to child feeding programs being cut completely. This cannot be the path to peace in Sudan.
U.S. leadership on this issue of hunger is vital for building the most powerful international coalition which is needed to take on such a powerful foe. Back in 1947 Secretary of State George Marshall was right to say U .S. foreign policy should be “against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.” He and others understood well the powerful force of hunger and its implications for U.S. national security interests. We need the same kind of wisdom today in Washington before it’s too late.