Sen. Moran Highlights Importance of Food Aid in American Democratic Assistance Across the Globe

Chairman Lindsey Graham: “If Senator Moran Had His Way, All the Farmers in Kansas Would Feed Everybody in the World”

WASHINGTON – During a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on State and Foreign Operations focused on the United States’ democratic assistance across the globe, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) yesterday questioned a panel of witnesses about the impact of food aid in increasing American safety. Sen. Moran asked for examples of the positive impact of food aid in preventing the need for further military intervention and for ways to approach countries wary of foreign assistance. 

The subcommittee heard testimony from former Secretary of State and National Democratic Institute Chairman of the Board Madeleine Albright, former Congressman and International Republican Institute Vice Chair of the Board James Kolbe, former Congressman and National Endowment for Democracy Co-Vice Chairman of the Board Vin Weber, and former National Security Advisor and U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) Chairman of the Board Stephen Hadley.

Click here to watch the hearing. Highlights can be found below:

Sen. Moran (:07): “I’ve said on the Senate floor, in an op-ed piece to Kansans back home that ‘soft power’ – would use a different word than that in speaking about this – is necessary to avoid additional military actions or to reduce the need for military actions around the globe. Are there specific examples… you could point to me that I could then indicate to those I’m speaking about, where our diplomacy, our assistance, food aid and other things have made a difference such that you believe we prevented the need for military power to be utilized?”

Mr. Hadley (0:43): “Senator, the example I used about Mahmoudiya, which was now ten years old, a peace agreement arranged, under the auspice of USIP that is held for ten years… the effect of that was dramatic in terms of the casualties being suffered by the 10th Mountain division. They fell by a factor of five or six times. And also allowed those forces to be withdrawn so that the peace was kept with a smaller number of people. So that’s a saving of lives, a savings of resources. The cost of that operation, I think, correct me if I’m wrong, about $1 million... The military spends about $11.5 million a day in Iraq during that time frame. So it’s good value. That’s the point. I think we make a mistake calling it ‘soft power.’ There’s nothing soft about it. What our diplomats are doing, our USIP people and our facilitators, they’re risking their lives. These are in conflict zones. There’s nothing ‘soft’ about that. Maybe we ought to talk about ‘military’ and ‘non-military,’ but I think soft is not an adequate description of the risks they run.”

Sen. Moran (1:56): “Let me focus a minute on food aid. There are famines around the globe. I think there’s a desire on the part of many Americans to respond. Part of the challenge we face are the civil authorities or military authorities in the countries where there are famines not allowing non-governmental organizations into their country, not allowing assistance… Why do countries behave in a way in which they deny us the ability to save lives, and how do we respond to get a different result?”

Sec. Albright (2:31): “I think that this is where diplomacy comes in, actually, is to have ambassadors in those countries that are able to explain that we’re not going in there to occupy, and that is part of it… We need to understand that the famines are partially being created by desertification and climate change and also by governments that want to starve their people. I think that’s part of the issue. And therefore it’s important to have contact with non-governmental organizations in those countries and try to show that starving people then create the mayhem that then leads to worse things. I also do think that Americans are the most generous people in the world. Our only problem is that we have a short attention span. And so I think that what needs to happen is that we need to understand that these are problems that are out there for a very long time. I do think, however, in those four particular counties, we have the most amazing operation in AFRICOM, which is a command that in fact is a way of dealing… in terms of cooperating of the civil and the military together in order to make a difference in a particular county.”

Mr. Weber (3:49): “Senator Moran… Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate, has said that there has never been a famine in a democratic country with a free media.”

Sen. Moran (4:00): “I appreciate you saying that… I guess that’s the point that needs to be made, if I could say it in my own words, although not as articulate as who you quoted, the ability to have a democracy when people are starving doesn’t exist. Is that a fair summation of that?”

Mr. Weber (4:19): “It’s much more difficult.”

Sen. Moran (4:22): “I want to compliment Chairman Graham and the ranking member and this committee – nearly a billion dollars in food aid, famine assistance, was included in the FY appropriation bill, that’s a great development. Our subcommittee on agriculture funded the Dole-McGovern food and education program. Our appropriations process for FY17 I think resulted in significant opportunities for help for people around the globe and enhances the chances that democracies survive or are created and reduces the chances that our military’s actions are necessary. Chairman Graham and members of the committee, thank you for your efforts in regard to trying to feed people around the world.”

Chairman Graham (5:09): “Let it be known to the people of Kansas, if Senator Moran had his way, all the farmers in Kansas would feed everybody in the world.”


  • Sen. Moran serves as co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus and previously chaired the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which allocates funding for certain USAID and USDA global food programs. He remains a member of that subcommittee.