Foreign Policy News Stories
A Hungry Child Died Every Two Seconds in 1981
SYNOPSIS: While world leaders debate the nuclear arms race
and others warn of untold casualties from a nuclear holocaust,
an estimated 50 million people quietly starve to death each year.
In addition, according to a United Nation's (UN) report released
in 1980, more than a half billion people-one out of every nine
human beings-are severely malnourished.
In 1981, the price of a child's life was $100 but much of
the world found it too high a price to pay. Thus, every two seconds
of 1981, a child paid that price with its life. According to figures
projected at this time, 17 million of the children born in 1982
would also die before their fifth birthday.
"This  has been, therefore, another year of 'silent
emergency'; of 40,000 children quietly dying each day; of 100
million children quietly becoming disabled in mind or body; of
200 million six- to eleven-year-olds quietly watching other children
go to school; of one-fifth of the world's people quietly struggling
for life itself," the UN report said.
UPDATE: In the 22 years since the first World Food Conference
was held in 1974 to deal with imminent famine, the number of undernourished
people in the world declined despite an overall growth in population
of 1.5 billion. Science came to the rescue with the "green
revolution" in agriculture-the use of hybrid varieties of
grains in combination with massive doses of chemical fertilizers
and pesticides-to greatly increase crop yields.
Faced with 2.5 billion more mouths to feed in the first quarter
of the next century, delegates to the second World Food Summit
that concluded in Rome on November 17, 1996, once again appealed
to science-this time in biotechnology and food-preservation techniques-to
save the planet. The problem of hunger is still urgent. An estimated
800 million people are said to be undernourished and some 200
million children go to bed hungry every day (Los Angeles Times,
The Rome summit pledged to cut the number of hungry people
from more than 800 million to 400 million by 2010, to enhance
the role of women in traditional societies, and to lower the rate
of population growth (Sacramento Bee, 12/1/96).
Training Terrorists in Florida
SYNOPSIS: While the Reagan Administration publicly opposes
international terrorism, terrorists are being trained in the United
States with its knowledge, if not assistance.
Guerrilla training camps are openly operating in Florida with
the knowledge of the federal government and in apparent violation
of federal law. While an investigation by the Pacifica National
News Service found no proof of active U.S. involvement in the
camps, the Justice Department, by passive acceptance, condones
Camp Libertad, located only five miles outside Miami, is one
of the camps where exiled Cubans and Nicaraguans prepare for attacks
on their homelands. The 600-acre camp is surrounded by barbed
wire and guarded by men with AR-15s, the basic combat weapon of
the American Army. The camp's paramilitary activities, once limited
to small groups who trained in the Everglades, has expanded into
a large, well-organized structure of camps. Americans, mostly
ex-Green Berets, participate in the training.
The activities appear to violate a number of federal laws
that prohibit any organized attempt by private citizens to overthrow
or undermine another government. One of these laws, the U.S. Neutrality
Act, states, in part, that it is unlawful to "provide or
prepare a means for, or furnish the money for or take part in,
any military or naval expedition or enterprise" against any
government with which the United States is at peace.
UPDATE: Terrorist or guerrilla training has changed in at
least two ways since the 1981 story. While Camp Libertad once
trained Cubans and Nicaraguans for attacks on their homelands,
unofficial militia camps now train U.S. citizens for attacks on
their own government. The existence of the militia camps, such
as the 80-acre Michigan Militia camp at Wolverine, Michigan, started
to receive media attention in the aftermath of the tragic Oklahoma
City bombing (The Boston Herald, 4/24/95).
There also is the official U.S. terrorist training of Latin
American officers at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning,
Georgia. Critics charge that the foreign officers receive training
in executions and torture. On September 20, 1996, the Pentagon
released training manuals that contained references to executing
guerrillas, beatings, drunkenness, and coercion as methods of
obtaining information (Associated Press, 9/21/96). Alumni of the
school have been implicated in the murders of priests, nuns, and
others in Latin America, including the 1989 murders of six Jesuits
and two women in El Salvador. The School of Americas Watch, an
activist group opposed to training terrorists, holds protests
at the school and advocates closing it down (Newsday, 8/15/96).
Cultured Killers -- Biological Weapons and Third World Targets
SYNOPSIS: Following World War II, biological warfare (BW)
was advanced through funding by the CIA, the Department of Defense
(DOD), and the Navy with hundreds of BW projects at corporations
and universities throughout the country.
The research was banned in 1969 due to public pressure. Existing
BW stocks were to be destroyed and further research confined to
"defensive purposes." Yet, in 1975, it was learned that
a CIA project still maintained BW stocks at Fort Detrick, Maryland,
with covert connections to "specific assassination plans."
Race-specific weapons such as cocci (Valley Fever) and tuberculosis
have been researched only by the DOD as biological warfare agents.
Third World countries are considered to be particularly vulnerable
targets for a BW attack due to dispersed rural populations with
poor health and nutritional status and barely sufficient agriculture
There is a lack of distinction between offensive research,
which is banned, and defensive research, which is still permitted.
The DOD says it is funding cocci research to develop a vaccine.
UPDATE: Despite the international agreement which banned development
of germ-warfare agents, the Pentagon's research budget for infectious
diseases and toxins has increased tenfold since fiscal 1981. Further,
most of the 1986 budget of $42 million went to 24 U.S. university
campuses where the world's most deadly organisms are being cultured
in campus labs. Similarly, the U.S. Army has resumed biological
agent testing at its Dugway, Utah, test site which had been declared
unsafe a decade earlier.
By the mid-1990s, a new acronym, NBC, was being used to describe
nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. The use of biological
weapons, at one time unimaginable, had become a reality. On March
20, 1995, a Japanese doomsday cult, Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth),
unleashed a nerve gas attack in Tokyo's subway that killed 12
and sickened more than 5,500 commuters (The Independent, 7/17/96).
In mid-June 1996, the U.S. Defense Department admitted that American
troops in the 1991 Gulf War may have been exposed to Sarin, the
same nerve agent used in Tokyo (News day, 6/29/96).
In late August 1996, the U.S. Army's long-delayed, $12 billion
program to destroy the nation's chemical weapons through incineration
was started in a new $650 million Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal
Facility southwest of Salt Lake City. Shortly after it started,
it was shut down. A small amount of Sarin nerve gas was found
in the end-of-the-line filters that clean factory air before releasing
it into the desert skies. After being closed five days, the plant
started up again and plant officials assured its 600 workers and
the public the gas leak had posed no health risk (The New York
Times, 911196). Nonetheless, low levels of Sarin were again detected
at the plant in late January 1997. Once again, officials assured
critics none of the Sarin was released outside (USA Today, 1/27/97).