A story in the 9/19/08 New York Times, “War & Drought Threaten Afghan Food Supply,” brings home the very real problems of that tragic country and its long-suffering people:
Underlying the warnings are growing fears of civil unrest. The mood in the country is darkening amid increasing economic hardship, worsening disorder and a growing disaffection with the government and its foreign backers, particularly over the issue of government corruption.
Returning refugees are already converging on the cities because they cannot manage in the countryside, and they make easy recruits for the Taliban or other groups that want to create instability, said Ashmat Ghani, an opposition politician and tribal leader from Logar Province, south of Kabul, the nation’s capital.
“The lower part of society, when facing hunger, will not wait,” he said. “We could have riots.”
Just enough of a caloric deprivation can lead to civil unrest, as Herbert Cederberg showed in his seminal study, An Economic Analysis of English Settlement in North America, 1583-1635, in which he demonstrated that settlers at Jamestown could not resist politically once the food supply dipped to a certain level.
© 2008 C. Bertelsen