Many people still fail to realize that food security is intractably interwoven into our global security. A hungry world is an insecure world. Global security would be greatly enhanced by ensuring that hunger is eradicated in our lifetime.
The cost of ending hunger is actually almost insignificant. This is true when measured against just the military spending of the United States, not even factoring in the defense budgets of the other developed countries of the world.
Ending hunger should be a major strategy in achieving a safer and more secure world. It’s not as sexy as billion dollar bombers, but it is far more moral and a a hell of a lot more cost effective.
The bottom line is the bottom line. There is no moral justification for this obscene amount of money being wasted by the United States on military spending.
Our country puts more money into military spending and defense than the next five countries combined. The $30 billion annually needed to end hunger could be taken out of this bloated military spending budget, and would achieve more global security than another bomber or two.
Not only would reducing our military spending and ending hunger make the world a far safer place. It might even make us all a little more human. And in the end, that’s a far better bottom line.
In his 1941 State of the Union Address, President Franklin Roosevelt talked about a future world where global security would be built on a foundation of four essential human freedoms.
The first was freedom of speech and expression. The second freedom enunciated by Roosevelt was the freedom of every person to worship God in their own way.
The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, mean economic understanding which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the world.
The fourth freedom Roosevelt talked about was the freedom from fear, which he insisted meant a worldwide reduction in armaments, a reduction “to such a point and in such a thorough fashion” that no nation would be in a position to commit physical aggression against any neighbor.
We are certainly a long way from the future envisioned by Roosevelt. Yet his premise of a world founded on four basic freedoms has a power to it that cannot be denied.
Today, when we have enough food to feed all of us on the blessed planet we call home, we need to recognize that freedom from hunger is a basic right of every person in the world. Then we need to join together in a massive global movement to ensure that all of us enjoy that freedom. Working together we can make it happen.
“The eradication of hunger is not just an end in itself: It is a first step toward sustainable development and progress in general, for a hungry man is not a free man. He cannot focus on anything else but securing his next meal.” — Kofi Annan
We need to understand that food security is a critical factor in global security. People who are hungry and living under the dark shadow of starvation are easily manipulated by those promising a better life. An empty stomach is never a good political advisor.
In 2001 the FAO defined food security like this: “Food security is a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Food security means not having to fear for one’s next meal. It means being set free from the chains of hunger and, just as importantly, being set free from the fear that accompanies hunger. And as Kofi Annan so powerfully writes, food security and the eradication of hunger are the first steps toward creating a world of truly sustainable development. Working together we can create that world.