"Never before in history has hunger become a global threat in a period of plentiful harvests. Global rice production will hit a record of 423 million tons in the 2007-2008 crop year, enough to satisfy global demand. The trouble is that only 7% of the world's rice supply is exported, because local demand is met by local production. Any significant increase in rice stockpiles cuts deeply into available supply for export, leading to a spike in prices. Because such a small proportion of the global rice supply trades, the monetary shock from the weak dollar was sufficient to more than double its price.
It is not only rice, of course, that the cash-rich countries of the world are buying as a store of value; the price of wheat, soy and other grains has risen almost as fast. This might deal the death-blow to America's hapless efforts to stabilize the Middle East, where a higher proportion of impoverished people eat off state subsidies than in any other part of the world. Egypt has been the anchor for American diplomacy in the Arab world since the Jimmy Carter administration (1977 to 1981), and is most susceptible to hunger. Food prices have risen by 145% in Lebanon and by 20% in Syria this year. Iraqis depend on food subsidies financed by American aid.
Reduced to essentials, America's foreign policy sought two unattainable objectives: to stabilize the Middle East and destabilize China. That is an exaggeration, of course, for Washington hoped not to sow instability, but only to put China in its place over the Tibetan affair.
The George W Bush administration might as well have used the State Department as a set for the Jackass reality show. American arrogance has eroded the ground under many of the governments on which its foreign policy depends. It is hard to characterize what will come next, except, like the stunts on Jackass, that it is going to hurt."
From a very good article by Spengler in Asia Times.