The Politics of Starvation

No evil in post-World War II history matches Israel in its genocide of the Palestinian people. The ultimate evil used the October 7 single attack on fortified Israel as an excuse to destroy a defenseless people ─ driving them from their homes, killing them in the open, limiting their access to water, making them susceptible to contagious diseases, moving them around into desperation, and terrifying the children into life-long traumas. Apparently, that evil-doing was insufficient for the morally bankrupt Israel; its government decided to turn a debilitated, shocked, and pleading population into starving corpses.

Added to this evil are its allies — a bewildered world that does nothing to halt the obvious genocide and coordinated media instructors who divert the discussion.

The captured media turned demonstrations that confronted the U.S. government’s assistance in Israel’s genocide into an overriding and spurious discussion of anti-Semitism in America ─ a few well-placed Israel supporters claimed they could not go to class. In America, taunts at genocide supporters are more important than the genocide. Now we have the confrontation of the Israeli government in their starvation of the Palestinian people turned into a debate of whether Israeli soldiers deliberately killed Palestinians obtaining food aid or whether the Palestinians died from chaotic conditions. We have confirmation that several Palestinians died from bullets. Because they might obtain food and escape dying from starvation, Israel’s soldiers shot them. Why argue the numbers, one is as bad as 100. We also know that Israel’s military incursion into Gaza precipitated this situation and the path to starvation has been carefully planned, starvation of the mind, the body, and the emotions.

Bomb all the homes so Gazans cannot store food and cook. Destroy the Al-Ailat bakery, and make sure the Gazans don’t get their bread. Destroy the AbuShahla orange farm and make sure the Gazans don’t get their nutrients. Destroy the Italiano Pizzeria and make sure the Gazans don’t get their carbs. Destroy all the libraries, parks, cultural centers, schools, and mosques, and make sure the Gazans have no place to go for solace. Destroy all the hospitals so that after they get sick and wounded the Gazans have no way to recuperate.

The weapon of starvation is not original; Israel has a good teacher ─ its benefactor, the democratic, freedom-loving United States of America. Not preventing starvation in the past has led to the present use of the weapon of starvation.

The Politics of Starvation

The powerful cannot always use military might to suppress adversaries. Their citizens and world opinion may react unfavorably and undermine a military adventure. Logistics may not favor it. Besides, they have other means, one of which is economic warfare; a method that can silently crush an adversary without firing a shot. Going to the extreme, economic warfare has the force of a neutron bomb; it disables the nation’s infrastructure and debilitates the population.

Economic warfare requires preparation before implementation.

First, the “grieved” country accuses its adversary of intended crimes of aggression. The adversary is powerless to defend and becomes marked with the adjective “rogue state.” Since the “rogue state” cannot ameliorate the crimes of which it is accused, being that they may not exist, and because these states are usually proud and will not compromise with their national integrity (one reason for their fate) further action must be taken against them. The next step is isolation. This step has several stages.

Although contrary to law in democratic countries and contradictory to the criticism made by the democratic countries against a policy of the former Soviet Union, which imposed travel restrictions on its citizens, the “grieved” country cautions and sometimes forbids all its citizens, except its intelligence services, to travel to the “rogue state.” Subtle enforcement procedures, such as heavy fines, harassment, embarrassing airport searches, letting the neighbors know, and calls from the Internal Revenue Department are used to protect travelers from being contaminated with “rogue” germs, shield them from vicious propaganda, and prevent them from being kidnapped for ransom and from being arrested due to accusations of spying. The two latter reasons are valid. The unmentioned reasons are to assure the adversary doesn’t acquire tourist dollars that enable it to survive, make certain that travelers don’t learn that all they have read and heard from their government is propaganda, and prevent rogueidization, in which a citizen suddenly sympathizes with the rogue and acquires rogue traits.

In the final stage, the enemy is isolated from international agencies, relief efforts, finances, and communications. After being forced into isolation, the enemy might achieve the adjective “hermit kingdom.” That denomination signifies it is ready for the great strike ─ economic warfare. The economic warfare punch has many shapes. If preferred sanctions are insufficiently effective, warships produce an illegal embargo by arriving close to the beaches and dwarfing the rowboats of the sanctioned nation, or airplanes guard against the infiltration of military weapons, such as water pumps, medicines, and construction materials. If the embargo does not complete the cleansing task, then the “grieved” country might arm surrogate warriors inside or close to the “rogue country” and have them add human catastrophes to the imposed catastrophes that already punish the undesired country.

“Rogues,” which have special qualifications, earn the title of terrorists. This title sticks to their names like velcro. It appears in all articles, headlines, dispatches, reports, and news as if the word terrorist followed by the name is one word. The “terrorist xxxx” (insert Hezbollah, Hamas, or Iran) earns this title by committing an evil deed that is usually in response to the tens of evil deeds committed against it. At times, economic warfare leads to a final step in whipping a “terrorist nation” back into shape ─ borderline starvation. If the food supply dwindles, certainly the unfortunate citizens of the “terrorist nation” will act as those who proclaimed “Liberte,” “Egalitie” and “Fraternitie” in the French Revolution. They will storm the gates of their oppressors, take away their cake, and demand bread. The United States has implemented political policies that have harmed nutrition in several countries. Despite the punitive measures, the leaders of “terrorist” nations still eat cake, while the populations suffer greatly from economic deprivation and, in some cases, function at a subsistence level

Since 1998, the US has established economic sanctions on more than 20 countries. The effectiveness of these sanctions in changing the Rogue” nation’s posture is described in two reports:

(1)    In an earlier report Daniel Griswold, “Going Alone on Economic Sanctions Hurts U.S. More than Foes.” CATO Institute, September 23, 2000, showed that trade sanctions failed to change the behavior of sanctioned countries, barred American companies from economic opportunities, and harmed the poorest people in the countries under sanctions, without significantly advancing national security.

From Cuba to Iran to Burma, sanctions have failed to achieve the goal of changing the behavior or the nature of target regimes. Sanctions have, however, deprived American companies of international business opportunities, punished domestic consumers, and hurt the poor and most vulnerable in the target countries. According to the president’s Export Council, the United States has imposed more than 40 trade sanctions against about three-dozen countries since 1993. The council estimates that those sanctions have cost American exporters $15 billion to $19 billion in lost annual sales overseas and caused long-term damage to U.S. companies ─ lost market share and reputations abroad as unreliable suppliers.

(2)    Dursun Peksen, “Better or Worse? The Effect of Economic Sanctions on Human Rights,” Journal of Peace Research, shows that extensive sanctions are more detrimental to human rights.

Utilizing time-series, cross-national data for the period 1981—2000, the findings suggest that economic sanctions worsen government respect for physical integrity rights, including freedom from disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, and political imprisonment.

In almost all cases, sanctioned countries have not changed their behavior and innocent civilians have greatly suffered.


Sanctions against Russia have failed to stifle the economy or diminish Putin’s willingness to continue the war. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts Russia’s Gross domestic product to rise by 2.6 percent in 2024. Cost of food in Russia increased 8.10 percent in January of 2024 over the same month in the previous year. Food Inflation averaged 9.14 percent from 2002 until 2024. Russian fossil fuel exports steadily declined after the invasion.


Iran’s romance with the atomic age provoked a series of sanctions  Asset freezes (March 2008) and an expanded arms embargo (June 2010) prohibited Iran from buying heavy weapons, such as attack helicopters and missiles. All of this initially proved futile and counterproductive. The 2007 US sanctions against Iranian banks provided Iran with immunity from the global financial crisis and enabled it to be one of the few major economies not to be severely affected by the economic downturn.

Economic warfare soon reached full scale by strikes against Iran’s earnings from its most precious resource and export ─ oil. The U.S. Congress passed unilateral sanctions that targeted Iran’s energy and banking sectors and penalties were imposed on firms that supplied Iran with substantial amounts of refined petroleum products.

The economic warfare affected Iran’s industries and welfare. In February 2024, Iran’s currency, the Rial, fell to a record low against the US dollar, losing about 95 percent of its value in the last decade. Lack of spare parts and inability to replace planes have affected aviation safety. Real GDP fell from $644b in 2010 to $240b in 2020 and is expected to rise to $421b in 2024.

Food Inflation in Iran averaged 34.95 percent from 2012 until 2024, reaching an all-time high of 87.00 percent in July of 2022

Sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear activities, not prevented it from signing contracts with foreign firms to develop its energy resources, and not stopped the Islamic nation from implementing other contracts by funding in currencies other than the dollar. Crude oil exports, an essential part of Iran’s economy greatly declined, but, increased in recent years, as Iran adapted to a new world order.


If Iraq were Pompeii, then the US would be Mt. Vesuvius.

After destroying much of Iraq in a declared war, the U.S. continued to destroy it further ─ first in the post-1991 Gulf War and later in the post-2003 invasion.

Excerpts from A UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, outline the suffering of the Iraqi people from the aftermath of the Gulf War.

Before the Gulf War

  •  Before 1991 Iraq’s social and economic indicators were generally above the regional and developing country averages.
  • Up to 1990, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) cited Iraq as having one of the highest per capita food availability indicators in the region.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), prior to 1991, health care reached approximately 97% of the urban population and 78% of rural residents.
  • A major reduction in young child mortality took place from 1960 to 1990; with the infant mortality rate at 65 per 1,000 live births in 1989 (1991 Human Development Report average for developing countries was 76 per 1,000 live births.)
  • Southern and central Iraq had well-developed water and sanitation systems, composed of two hundred water treatment plants (“wtp’s”) for urban areas and 1200 compact wtp’s to serve rural areas, as well as an extensive distribution network. WHO estimates that 90% of the population had access to an abundant quantity of safe drinking water.

After the Gulf War

  • Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that Iraqi GDP may have fallen by nearly 67% in 1991, and the nation had “experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty” and now had infant mortality rates that were “among the highest in the world.”
  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated the maternal mortality rate increased from 50/100,000 live births in 1989 to 117/100,000 in 1997.
  • Calorie intake fell from a pre-war 3120 to 1093 calories per capita/per day in 1994-95.
  • The prevalence of malnutrition in Iraqi children under five almost doubled from 1991 to 1996 (from 12% to 23%). Acute malnutrition in Center/South rose from 3% to 11% for the same age bracket.
  • The World Food Program (WFP) estimated that access to potable water decreased to 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and 33% in rural areas.
  • School enrollment for all ages (6-23) declined to 53%. According to a field survey conducted in 1993, as quoted by UNESCO, in Central and Southern governorates, 83% of school buildings needed rehabilitation, with 8613 out of 10,334 schools having suffered serious damage.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq continued the destruction of Iraq.
Iraq became a war-torn nation, with sectarian strife bordering on civil war. By October 2010, post-invasion deaths of Iraqi civilians were estimated at almost 187,151 – 210,610.

A London Guardian report provided additional information on the effects of the war on Iraqi civilians: Rory Carroll in Baghdad: March 31, 2005, The Guardian reports:

Acute malnutrition among Iraqi children aged under five nearly doubled last year because of chaos caused by the US-led occupation, a United Nations expert said yesterday. Jean Ziegler, the UN Human Rights Commission’s special expert on the right to food, said more than a quarter of Iraqi children do not have enough to eat and 7.7% are acutely malnourished – a jump from 4% recorded in the immediate aftermath of the US-led invasion. Reporting to the commission’s headquarters in Geneva, the Swiss professor claimed the situation was “a result of the war led by coalition forces.”

Excerpt from Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, Joy Gordon. Harvard University Press, 2010, describes the extent of irrational economic warfare conducted by the United States against a defenseless Iraq.

For thirteen years the United States unilaterally prevented Iraq from importing nearly everything related to electricity, telecommunications, and transportation, blocked much of what was needed for agriculture and housing construction, and even prohibited some equipment and materials necessary for health care and food preparation.

On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on the CBS program 60 Minutes. Commentator Lesley Stahl asked the ambassador, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?” Madeleine Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”


Warfare is visualized in terms of dead soldiers, battlefield blood, eerie noises, and bombed-out structures. We cannot easily comprehend that warfare can be silent and still be deadly. Economic warfare has equivalents to military war. The country that takes the offense becomes the aggressor, as in any war, and the destruction to the defending state is equally brutal. In most cases, the economic war has worse results. In a one-sided manner, the civilian population of the defending nation suffers greatly and the aggressor country suffers few losses. The war rarely achieves the results that the offended party desired, and no peace treaty is signed. The struggle remains an open issue.

Gazans have suffered all forms of warfare — military, political, economic, and the politics of starvation. Their courage and battle to survive have no equal in all of history. A new word should be added to the language to remember their sacrifices ─  Gazavalor is one suggestion.

Israel’s tactics also deserve an addition to the vocabulary, one that describes its genocidal nature ─ Israelicide.

A major part of the corrupted U.S. media continues to rationalize Israel’s use of the weapon of starvation for the destruction of the Palestinian people and depicts Israelis as the victims. Some parts of the media give the starving Palestinians a voice and temper their voice with Israeli propaganda to give the situation a balance. Genocide cannot be balanced.

The American government’s obedience to its criminal partner, Israel, is an insult to the American people and pretends an equitable solution to a crisis. In the latest maneuver, President Biden, knowing he is losing support for his obsequious relationship with Israel, sought a scheming way out of his dilemma. He sent Vice-President, Kamala Harris, who will probably be ditched in the next election, to demand an immediate cease-fire. Israel will ignore the advice and AIPAC will get the hint  ─ undermine Kamala Harris.

A satisfactory use of the weapon of starvation is to starve the beast and the beast is Israel.

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.