From The Economist (Nov. 21-27):

Ethiopia is starving again. . . . Ethiopia's last televised famine, only two years ago, haunts the memory. Decent people in the rich democracies will want something done, and their politicians will not wish to stand accused of callous indifference. . . .

What will aid do? It will strengthen the dominion of Ethiopia's ignorant rulers. The weather is the only calamity not directly caused by Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam and his cronies. Their Russian advisers have taught them to run vast state farms that produce no food. Imitating Stalin's anti-kulak terror, they have shot "hoarders and saboteurs" prudent enough to store grain against a bad year, and forbidden merchants and truck owners to make profits by shifting food to dry districts from the lucky ones where it has rained. . . .

Perhaps {this} strip of Africa . . . already holds more people than its fragile soil can sustain. . . . People helped to survive by aid may merely face a repeated calamity in the next dry year. . . .

The arguments for doing nothing are therefore endless, and intolerable. Help for the starving may make some of them suffer more, and reinforce the grip of the government that caused them to starve. . . .

If Africa comes to expect to be fed, it will never feed itself. A policy of providing food into the indefinite future -- a workhouse policy -- would be wrong. Yet at moments of vast desperation and many deaths, the world cannot pass by on the other side. Ethiopia is the extreme case, and so must be faced. Even its benighted government will change its mind, or be thrown out, one day.