Dear (Washington Post) Editor,
The three troubling front page stories (Saturday Nov. 4, 2017) on “Africa/ISIS”, “climate change”, and “migrant” issues were each forecast in President Carter’s 1980 Presidential Commission on World Hunger. It presaged the consequences of ignoring world hunger and poverty in terms of future “international terrorism”, “war”, “environmental hazards”, “refugees” and other problems. It stated, ”Calculable or not…this combination of problems now threatens the national security of all countries just as surely as advancing armies or nuclear arsenals.”
The report concluded “In the final analysis, unless Americans -- as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world -- place far higher priority on overcoming world hunger, its effects will no longer remain remote or unfamiliar. Nor can we wait until we reach the brink of the precipice; the major actions required do not lend themselves to crisis planning, patchwork management, or emergency financing... The hour is late. Age-old forces of poverty, disease, inequity, and hunger continue to challenge the world. Our humanity demands that we act upon these challenges now...”
Your editorial the same day titled “After Niger, a needed debate” called for “updating the legal authorization for U.S. military action against terrorist groups”, the “AUMF”. This suggestion ignores the wisdom of most counter-terrorism experts who believe that military force alone cannot defeat this metalizing violent extremist threat. What could make a difference is the “long-neglected business” of sustainable development. Appropriating funds to meet the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be more effective than any “AUMF”.
Carter’s Commission understood this back then: “promoting economic development in general, and overcoming hunger in particular, are tasks far more critical to the U.S. national security than most policymakers acknowledge or even believe. Since the advent of nuclear weapons most Americans have been conditioned to equate national security with the strength of strategic military forces. The Commission considers this prevailing belief to be a simplistic illusion. Armed might represents merely the physical aspect of national security. Military force is ultimately useless in the absence of the global security that only coordinated international progress toward social justice can bring.”
The SDG’s are our best hope. This may not be “Constitutional” but it is fundamentally wise.