A Duty to Support
Is it ethical for a government to use food aid as a means of spreading political ideology?
"Starved people cannot be taught democracy. To talk about the will of the people when you aren't feeding them is perfect hogwash."
- Ancel Keys, 1945
As the US entered the Cold War, spreading democracy became a priority. The finding of the MNSE that starving people cannot be taught democracy, led to a shift in US famine response through the Marshall Plan in 1946, and the establishment of Food for Peace in 1954.
Marshall Plan Food Aid, Getty Images, 1947.
The Marshall Plan and Food for Peace provided food and other humanitarian aid to foreign countries. In addition to famine prevention, these programs had more strategic motives: to strengthen alliances with democratic countries and prevent the spread of communism.
"The US is not morally required to give food aid to everyone who's starving. You might think it shows a deep seeded problem with the moral character of our country that we think we shouldn’t give food aid to communists, but we're not morally required to do it."
Doctor US Congress, Minneapolis Star, 1947.
"The President shall exercise the authority contained herein (1) to assist friendly nations independent of trade with the U. S. S. R. or nations dominated or controlled by the U. S. S. R. for food, raw materials and markets, and (2) to assure that agricultural commodities sold or transferred here under do not result in increased availability of those or like commodities to unfriendly
Food for Peace 5c U.S. Stamp, 1963.
"European recovery... is essential to the maintenance of the civilization in which the American way of life is rooted. If Europe fails to recover, the people might be driven to surrender their basic rights to totalitarian control."
"Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos."
"Our food has perhaps done more than any word or deed to demonstrate the superiority of the free-enterprise system over Communist dictatorship."
"[Food for Peace] proclaims our commitment to a better world society-where every person can hope for life's essentials-and be able to find them in peace."
Through the Participants' Eyes
Congressional Research Program, 2016
"Why do people who were drafted go to fight wars, without escaping? Because there's a duty. It's the same kind of a thing, just a different battlefield. And from our point of view at the time, it was a battlefield consistent with what our conscience would tell us. But it was a battlefield. And battlefields are not supposed to be easy."
- Max Kampleman, Minnesota Starvation Experiment participant, 1993