Monday, December 13, 2010

The wiki of food

Anne sent me this: "The wikileaks cable to illustrate the ways in which food is often used by the U.S. government as a tool for the advancement of a neo-liberal economic agenda that serves their goals. While this may not be surprising, the cables are an interesting collection of proof without the usual diplomatic artfulness and rhetoric reserved for public consumption. Because of the leak of secret and classified material we have a clearer picture of the machinations of the U.S. government and punitive measures they employ to achieve that agenda.

Much of the language used seems to be a hold over of the cold war; the word “socialism” is thrown about to describe most places that don’t subscribe to an open market ideology. Parts of Spain are described as “socialist heartland” (04MADRID2164, Evo Morales’ cabinet is composed of “socialist intellectuals” (06LAPAZ906, Venezuela is described as “on a march towards socialism” because they have nationalized modes of food and energy production which according to U.S. diplomats means that “The mostly negative economic consequences of nationalizations across key sectors and other instances of state intervention will continue to play out in 2010”(10CARACAS69, In examining this quote one sees what the cables don’t tell us. Are the economic figures mostly negative? Who is measuring? What nation did not have mostly negative economic figures in 2009 and 2010? Certainly domestic economic figures for the U.S. were far from positive and the only sector they subsidized were the banks.

Food is also used to identify actions the U.S. government perceives as radical. One cable describes Nicaragua’s president Manuel Ortega’s “radical” approach to Nicaragua’s food system because he was hosting a food sovereignty conference in Managua (08MANAGUA573,

The bottom line is that the U.S. subsidizes as many sectors – Commodity agriculture, primarily corn, and energy as well through subsidies to private companies. So if other nations resist the intervention of these private companies in their mode of production, this makes them somehow evil."

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