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Clinton could be man of destiny and eliminate world hunger.

The entire world will listen to what President Bill Clinton says and does on Jan. 20, the day of his inauguration.

He should proclaim that the United States will undertake the containment of famine with the same vigor it had when struggling for the containment of communism.

A crusade against hunger and famine has been for a long time a familiar and favorite ideal for Americans. In the 1950s Congress enacted the Food for Peace Program -- a measure to send some of America's abundant harvest to poor nations.

In 1961, President John Kennedy said that in the 1960s America would do two things -- go to the moon and eliminate hunger. In 1974, President Gerald Ford declared that within a decade no child would go to bed hungry.

In 1976, Congress enacted a resolution saying "the need to combat hunger shall be a fundamental point of reference in the formulation and implementation of U.S. policy in all areas that bear on hunger." In 1930, the Presidential Commission on Hunger recommended that the alleviation of famine be the number one objective in America's foreign policy.

Clinton, therefore, would be building on the basic instincts of the American people by a pledge to alleviate, even eliminate, hunger. He would be extending and formalizing a policy that in 1992 brought the U.S. Marines to the shores of Somalia.

A pledge to eradicate hunger would be a dramatic gesture. But it would also be a lesson in solid economics. The world is able to produce 3,000 calories a day for every human being. The resources are there, and the science and technology are available; the only thing lacking is the political will in the family of nations.

If the United States led the way, as it did in Somalia, the results could be spectacular. And to be very pragmatic, the crusade to end hunger would redound to the benefit of American businesses that would in such a crusade find new markets by which to diminish the imbalance in foreign trade.

In December 1992, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Commission and the World Health Organization collaborated on another world conference in Rome on the issue of the right to food. The Holy Father spoke with eloquence to the assembly.

The conferees agreed that the task of feeding the 5.2 billion people in the global village can be achieved; indeed, even the 6.2 billion that will be living in the year 2000 can be cared for. Again and again, the leaders of the United Nations and of the world lamented the absence of planetary moral leadership.

America's religious forces have a special role to play in bringing to fruition Americas long-held aspiration and ambition to make the world safe for hungry children. In the 1980s, 344,000 churches and synagogues in America claimed 140 million adherents. There is nothing more urgently required by the Old and New Testaments than that the children of God feed the hungry.

St. John's Gospel thunders that no one can love God and neglect his neighbor's fundamental needs. The good Samaritan did more than feed the victim of the robber; he bound up his wounds. The appeal to feed the hungry is a cry from Christ himself -- "anyone who welcomes one child for my sake is welcoming me" (Matthew 18:5).

We are familiar with the appalling statistics -- 800 million in the world are chronically malnourished, 40 million children die of preventable causes and 340 million new human beings come into the world each year.

President Clinton, please, please, on the solemn day of your inauguration, teach the world that the United States finally will undertake the achievable task of feeding a hungry world. Mr. President, if you make this pledge, then your name will go down in history as a prophet, a visionary and a very wise political leader.
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Title Annotation:President-elect Bill Clinton
Author:Drinan, Robert F.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 25, 1992
Previous Article:Needed: teaching peace literacy by numbers.
Next Article:Christmas '92: sins of 'our' Somalia glare openly at us.

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