The global wheat supply proved remarkably resilient in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that’s fortunate because before the war Ukraine was responsible for six percent of global wheat exports. It was the seventh biggest exporter of wheat, fourth biggest of barley and the largest for sunflower seeds. One reason the world hasn’t gone hungry is that Ukraine shipments have continued:

Ukraine exported 5.2 million tonnes of grain and maize in March [2024], 5.8 million tonnes in February and 5.3 million tonnes in January. Before Russia’s invasion in 2022, the country was sending about 6.5 million tonnes abroad every month.

…After Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (or “grain deal”), it said it would view any vessel bound for Ukraine as a potential military target.

Few cargo ships dared to go to Ukrainian ports, and monthly grain exports fell to just over 2 million tonnes in July, August and September 2023.

However, Ukraine has since established new export routes.

Between the end of the grain deal in July 2023 and the end of February 2024, it shipped about 20 million tonnes of grain to 42 countries, according to the country’s vice prime minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

This is despite 30 Russian attacks on Ukrainian grain ports and storage facilities since the deal ended.

I mention this because it demonstrates that Ukraine knows how to supply food, which makes it odd that it suffered one of the more brutal famines of the 20th Century. Referred to as Holodomor, which means “death by hunger” in Ukrainian, it resulted in several million starved Ukrainians. The first cause was that Josef Stalin’s agricultural collectivization program thoroughly disrupted the farming economy, but Stalin exploited and exacerbated the shortages to put down Ukrainian rebellion. This is only one of Stalin’s notorious crimes, but it’s the primary reason his death toll at least rivals Hitler’s. It’s a prime piece of evidence for why Stalin has gone down in history less as the man who stopped Hitler and more as a monster. It’s probably true that Stalin did not set out to cause a famine, but his policies had that predictable effect, and he then used famine as a weapon.

Fast-foward ninety years and we see this:

The director of the U.S. Agency for International Development told lawmakers this week that a famine is underway in northern Gaza, which has been devastated by six months of Israeli military operations and is the part of the territory most cut off from aid.

The director, Samantha Power, is the first senior American official to say publicly that famine has begun in the Gaza Strip, where aid agencies and global experts have warned for months that nearly all 2.2 million Palestinians would soon face extreme hunger.

President Joe Biden has certainly seen this coming, and he does not want to go down in history with Stalin. That’s why he began screaming bloody murder about Israel opening up food supplies to Gaza a couple months before we reached this point. It’s why a month ago he announced his plan to build a temporary port in Gaza. The Israeli government has been dragged kicking and screaming to make concessions, but it has proved too little and too late to prevent the onset of genuine famine in the north of Gaza.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s brutal attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant announced a total siege of Gaza, which was understandable in the midst of Israel’s horror and surprise. Gallant said “no power, no food, no gas” would be allowed to reach the Gaza Strip. Biden warned Israel not to be consumed with rage and repeat the mistake America made in response to the 9/11 attacks. It did not take Biden’s advice.

While food and gas were eventually supplied it the face of international pressure, the current famine is a direct result of Israel’s policies. You can argue that Hamas could have stopped the famine by releasing the hostages and surrendering en masse, and that’s quite possibly true, but Hamas is otherwise powerless to import food.

So now Uncle Joe Biden is at risk of being compared to Uncle Joe Stalin, as the author of weaponized famine. That’s because Israel could not conduct its war in Gaza without U.S. support and supplies. The other major supplier of arms to Israel, Germany, has it’s own history with genocide, and it spent Tuesday at The Hague defending itself:

Germany denied accusations on Tuesday that it was aiding genocide in Gaza by selling Israel arms in a suit to the top U.N. court by Nicaragua reflecting mounting legal action in support of Palestinians.

Germany has been one of Israel’s staunchest allies since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants and retaliatory offensive. It is one of its biggest military suppliers, sending 326.5 million euros ($353.70 million) in equipment and weapons in 2023, according to Economy Ministry data…

…Lawyers for Nicaragua have asked the ICJ to order Germany to halt arms sales to Israel and resume funding of U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

They argued Berlin has violated the 1948 Genocide Convention and international law by supplying Israel while aware there was a risk of genocide.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Nicaraguan ambassador Carlos Arguello told journalists that the case at this preliminary stage did not hinge on the amount of Germany’s military aid but simply its existence.

The U.S. Government knew famine was coming and it has genuinely attempted to prevent it, but it was not successful. As for Israel, I am greatly sympathetic to the security challenges they face and I do blame Hamas first and foremost for instigating this phase of the conflict and showing total indifference to the resulting catastrophe for the Palestinian people. But they are using famine as a weapon, and this cannot continue with U.S. support for their war efforts.

The concessions they have made in recent weeks are inadequate, and a change of leadership is urgently required. Biden as well as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have already said as much, but we’ve reached a point now where famine has set in, and Netanyahu needs to go.

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