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On Adam Smith, hunger in Bangladesh, and the Black Sea grain embargo
Self-interest doesn't have to be the same thing as selfishness. An act can reward the person or party performing it, and reward the rest of the world at the same time. This is the structural reason why market economies have strong and self-sustaining advantages over their more command-based counterparts; as noted by Adam Smith (and countless others since), "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."
■ Few countries can compare with Ukraine for its efficiency at feeding the world. Prior to coming under Russia's attack, it was the 7th largest wheat exporter in the world. Those exports are in Ukraine's interests, to be sure -- a self-interest expressly acknowledged by Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
■ But those exports are also badly needed in a world that continues to battle widespread hunger. Most of the savagery committed under the Russian flag has been at the expense of Ukrainian people. And there has been a lot of it. But now, Russia has withdrawn from an agreement to let Ukraine export its food through the Black Sea.
■ At the margins, this is certain to cause real human suffering. It will almost certainly bring death, as well. And these consequences will be experienced away from the combat zone: In places like Egypt, Indonesia, and Pakistan, which are not combatants in the war.
■ If anyone remains uncertain about the justness of the Ukrainian cause of self-defense, that's a matter for their own heart. But no one can remain in good conscience about the unjustness of the war waged by Russia. Intentionally starving non-combatants is an act rooted in terror.