28 June 2017   Leave a comment

Chatham House, a think-tank in London, has published an interesting report entitled “Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade”.  It raises a concern that is not often considered–the vulnerability of the world food system to interruptions in food trade.  According to the report:

“Global food security is underpinned by trade in a few crops and fertilizers. Just three crops – maize, wheat and rice – account for around 60 per cent of global food energy intake.  A fourth crop, soybean, is the world’s largest source of animal protein feed, accounting for 65 per cent of global protein feed supply.  Each year, the world’s transport system moves enough maize, wheat, rice and soybean to feed approximately 2.8 billion people.  Meanwhile, the 180 million tonnes of fertilizers applied to farmland annually play a vital role in helping us grow enough wheat, rice and maize to sustain our expanding populations.”

The study identifies 14 places where the transport of items vital to food supply are vulnerable to breakdown.  The global food system is far more fragile than we had believed.

Paul Pillar is my favorite analyst of US policy toward the Middle East (we were friends in college).  He served on the Middle East desk of the CIA during the Iraq invasion, and subsequently left the Agency and wrote an essay on how the CIA’s analysis of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction was “cherry-picked” by the Bush Administration.  The essay was published in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs.  He is now at Georgetown University and he has written another essay on how the Trump Administration is “cherry-picking” the evidence on Iran in order to justify a policy of regime change in that country.  Paul knows what he is talking about and his fears should be taken seriously.

Nick Turse has written an essay for The Nation which points out that the Trump Administration has maintained Special Operations forces into 137 countries (in many cases, some of these troops are hold-overs from the Bush and Obama Administration).  There are only 195 states in the international system so the US has troops in 70% of the world’s countries.  Most Americans are completely unaware of how extensive American military commitments are.  The commitments are clear evidence of imperial overstretch.

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Posted June 28, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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