"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Yemeni Food Crisis

One of the reasons the Yemeni government is so toxic and discredited is because of its inability to provide a decent standard of living for many of its people.  Of course, there are some structural reasons for this, and it is not entirely the fault of the government.  There is clearly fault there, of course, but in some ways it is irrelevant.  When someone is in charge, any failure becomes their responsibility. 

Over at The American Chronicle, hunger expert William Lambers writes about the growing food crisis in Yemen, which is unable to feed itself.   Lambers estimates that it will take about $78 million to keep Yemen from starving- which is a lot, but not that much in the big picture, especially when you consider the consequences of a failed state.

What Lambers doesn't mention is just how corrupt Yemen is, and how difficult it is to give aid to such a corrupt and broken system.  I think that the food crisis presents the world the perfect opportunity to learn how to work outside the system, and deal directly with the increasingly autonomous regions outside central control.  Not only is this the moral thing to do, but it is also one of the ways that the West can help to fix its image in Yemen. 


  1. Question: Does the west really want to further de-legitimize the Yemeni government by making an end-run around it?


  2. Probably not. But I don't think it has much of a choice. Not running an end-around would, at this point, probably be futile. I don't think the government has much capability to help out- working through them to a large extent is just giving more fuel to corruption. I also kind of think that, given the situation, encouraging loose autonomy is the only way to avoid outright failure. It isn't ideal, but we don't have a lot of options. I'm not entirely convinced of this, but it is where I am leaning right now. I can always be swayed by a good argument or flattery.

    Greg, if you disagree you should post something on Waq al-Waq, then we could start a blog war and confuse people who think we are married.