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"Forget the Rest" blog

Focus on food security, not military dominance

Willem Malten

Santa Fe New Mexican, 4/27/2008

What we are seeing is the confluence of different but related crises: peak oil and peak food, both of which are exacerbated by global warming — the overarching crisis that humanity is facing. Whereas people are increasingly aware that we are just past the point of peak oil, most people don't know that we passed "peak food" 10 years ago. At that point in time, there was the largest surplus of grain stock available in the world, but since that time reserves have been dropping. Grain storage now is at the 1947-1948 level.

The sense that global food stocks are running low because of scarcity has only recently become an issue of wider concern — not just to the poor and starving nations, but even in the U.S. there should be an acute sense of imminent collapse of the food system without alternatives being in place. Twenty-eight million people on food stamps sounds like a very loud alarm.

A weak dollar continues to increase the exports of farm commodities, including wheat, dramatically, and make the wheat increasingly unaffordable for the internal American market. This hollowing out of the food and grain supply is further exhausted by the production of subsidized bio-fuels from food crops, one of the dumbest "green solutions" ever.

Many have recently identified the housing crisis as the main reason for a failing economy. But the real causes lie much deeper. They are rooted in the fact that neo-con capitalism has chosen resource war as its main economic vehicle and legitimacy. The puppets at the top are there solely to perpetuate a state of disinformation, secrecy, denial, betrayal and brutality (such as threats of torture and imprisonment) in order to hide and legitimize corrupt cronyism that robs resources from everything in sight and turns them into war diplomacy: bullies and bullets. An old saying says: "The warring nation becomes infertile."

Lies, torture, militarism, criminal leadership, corruption — they all carry a price in credibility that is eventually felt in the wealth of a nation and ultimately in the pockets of increasingly disenfranchised masses. Models suggest that once past peak oil, the available supplies of oil may drop off by as much as 6 percent each year; geopolitical interests shift because of the acute sense of scarcity. If fuel competes with food, it is time to invest all our last resources into food security rather than military dominance or empire. The ultimate nightmare for the United States is a dollar collapse. After all, the dollar represents the value of our credibility, and that is what is dropping. The true reason behind our economic crisis is in this crisis of values. We've bet on protracted war as an economic vehicle far too long.

The problem with such an escalation of folly is in its logical conclusion: having, promoting and eventually using a nuclear arsenal to secure energy resources. The renewed pressure to develop a pit-production facility in Los Alamos is an example of where the true intent of the U.S. lies. Imagine if the Iranians in this day and age would develop a factory for 50 to 80 pits per year. How would we feel?

Despite lip service to being "green," New Mexico's congressional representatives are not working to actively create economic alternatives to the nuclear destiny of New Mexico: Ultimately, they bet on reprocessing nuclear weapons, nuclear-waste disposal, military spaceports, nuclear-weapon design and storage to secure the main federal income stream for New Mexico. They could easily stop the new nuclear-pit factory, but they won't. So, that is what they really stand for regardless of what they say.

What we have to realize about "green" is that it includes a social dimension — from now on we need to critically evaluate all policies against one looming reality: How will this policy impact and affect the poor? The technology we would need to invest in creates jobs and opportunity, lifts people into meaningful work, promotes environmental remediation and a sense of common destiny and justice. That is the social dimension of "green," and it is incompatible with the warring war economy.

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