Nov 16, 2010 4:58 pm


Thor Halvorssen explains in Starving for Food, Thirsting for Freedom

To establish the link between autocratic government and devastating famine, one need only look at some of the deadliest mass starvations of the 20th century.

In the Soviet Union between 1921 and 1922, some 9 million people starved to death under Vladimir Lenin's government; in Soviet Ukraine between 1932 and 1933, as many as 10 million people starved to death in Stalin's Holodomor; in Axis-occupied Greece during the 1940's, 300,000 people starved to death under Nazi policy; in British-administered Bengal in 1943, some 3 million starved to death as a result of colonial rule; as many as 2 million died in Vietnam during World War II as a result of Japanese occupation; in communist China between 1958 and 1962, between 10 and 30 million people died during the famines caused by Mao's"Great Leap Forward;" in Cambodia beginning in 1979, 1.5 million starved following the failed policies of the Khmer Rouge; a military dictatorship in Ethiopia presided over a famine in 1984 that took the lives of more than 1 million; and an estimated 2 million starved to death during the 1990s in totalitarian North Korea.

All these regimes were dictatorships regardless of how they came to see themselves -- as people's revolutions, democratic revolutions, or enlightened occupiers. The economic and social development that they claimed to pursue should never have been used as justification for violating basic freedoms and the right to life. And in some instances, such as the Ethiopian famine, the West addressed this with well-meaning"We Are the World" songs and charity initiatives as if it were some kind of natural catastrophe as opposed to an utterly avertable, man-made tragedy that should have marshaled the world to pressure the Ethiopian despot.

It pleases me that the article is published in the Huffington Post. This issue should be sacred to the left as well as to the right. Alas, as Thor demonstrates, much too often it is not.

comments powered by Disqus