Biden Administration Puts Positive Spin on Food Shortages: 'Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste'


I would have thought we would have retired Winston Churchill’s “Never let a good crisis go to waste” quote in the context of American politics after 2008.

When Churchill reportedly uttered it, he was trying to create the United Nations. However, in 2008, Rahm Emanuel — the incoming White House chief of staff for then-President-elect Barack Obama — said a permutation of it during a speech about the financial crisis.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Emanuel said. “This is an opportunity, what used to be long-term problems, be they in the health care area, energy area, education area, fiscal area, tax area, regulatory reform area, things that we have postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with.”

The Obama administration, indeed, didn’t let the moment go to waste — although the fact that most probably wished they did meant you would think the phrase would be retired, especially by Democrats. For the most part, it has been. (Rahm himself brought it back, albeit with a knowing wink, for a March 2020 Washington Post opinion piece about COVID-19. Its contents, however, have aged similarly poorly.)

And then, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power invoked the phrase on Sunday to explain why food shortages caused by the Russia-Ukraine war are a great opportunity for farmers to go green.

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(As we’ve noted here at The Western Journal, the Biden administration hasn’t let crises like inflation or the war in Eastern Europe go to waste in pushing their agenda — and they’re not going to stop no matter how much pain they inflict on the American people. We’ll keep bringing America the truth when the establishment media won’t. You can help by subscribing.)

Power was appearing on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to talk about the logistical challenges posed to aid those affected by the invasion of Ukraine. One of these is, as Stephanopoulos pointed out, is “global food shortages all around the world.”

“As the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, what more can be done to address those shortages?” he asked.

Power acknowledged that “you have countries like in sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East who get maybe 80 to 90 percent of their wheat or their grain overall from Russia and Ukraine. And you see massive spikes in food prices. Food prices right now, George, globally, are up 34 percent from where they were a year ago. Aided substantially, again, by this invasion.”

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It’s not just that countries get grain from Russia and Ukraine, either. Russia is a huge exporter of fertilizer, which means growing food is going to become more problematic.

Power’s response? Go green.

“Even though fertilizer is not sanctioned, less fertilizer is coming out of Russia. As a result, we’re working with countries to think about natural solutions like manure and compost,” she said. “And this may hasten transitions that would have been in the interest of farmers to make eventually anyway.

“So, never let a crisis go to waste,” she continued, adding she felt emergency food needs could still be met, in part, by money from Congress.

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As the Daily Caller noted, President Biden acknowledged in March that food shortages were going to be a serious issue globally.

“With regard to food shortages, yes, we did talk about food shortages,” Biden said during March 24 remarks. “And it’s gonna be real. The price of these sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well. Including European countries and our country as well.”

While Power isn’t the first person to utter the “Never let a good crisis go to waste” quote in a place where it’s wholly inappropriate, members of the Biden administration have been saying this in any number of couched ways since the beginning of the war.

On Stephanopoulos’ show in February, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, when asked if the president was open to proposals that would increase American energy production, that the war merely proved “we need to look at other ways of having energy in our country and others.”

“One of the interesting things, George, we’ve seen over the last week or so is that a number of European countries are recognizing they need to reduce their own reliance on Russian oil,” she said. “So I’m not sure we agree with that assessment of what needs to happen.”

President Biden, meanwhile, has talked about Americans fighting higher gas prices — and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin at the same time — by buying an electric car. (Models cost, on average, $56,000 and are subject to wait lists of a year or more due to supply-chain shortages and demand, but never mind that.)

“Transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles powered by clean energy — with tax credits to help American families winterize their homes and use less energy — that will help and if we can and we do what we can, it will mean that no one has to worry about price of gas pump in the future,” Biden said in March.

“That will mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as weapons against other nations and it will make America a world leader in manufacturing and exporting clean energy technologies of the future, to countries all around the world.”

Manure and composting — that’s not going to solve a looming food shortage that’s going to affect those hardest-hit by food insecurity as it is. And yet, the head of USAID is on a Sunday morning political chat show, touting that some of our resources that are going to alleviate a potential famine were going toward advancing green policies on Biden’s agenda that will make little short-term difference.

In fact, that could exacerbate the problem for those in need by directing resources away from programs that yield immediate benefits.

Forget Churchill — even Rahm might have told her to hold off on this one.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture