15 JULY 2008

How could we thank you enough cher Jacques for the 1600 goats you thoughtfully sent us. Plus, as an added act of chivalry, 200 cows. You finally arranged to dispatch them to South Lebanon "to assist in the recovery of livestock lost during the mid-2006 war." Only two years have passed. What are two years but a blink in the eyelid of history. You, cher Jacques, never blinked as you courageously and generously decided to confront the world by dispatching these goats to those farmers. It was a bit late as some observers noted. But little do they know that it is better late than never. One goat is better than no goat at all. The two hundred cows -- two hundred Jacques! -- will be able to roam around 40 villages freely, unfettered by Hezbollah sniping or Israeli army bobby traps. After all, they have FAO immunity and privileges. The Vienna Convention, remember? Besides, those goats and cows as your Special Communique stressed will allow farmers to produce local yoghurt and cheese. Clearly, those farmers had missed that point until your thoughtful communique. They and their grandparents have been producing Mediterranean cheese and yoghurt since the dawn of history, but they hardly recognized the pivotal role of cows and goats in that process. Now they do. Now, by the way, since you generously supplied those handfuls of farmers with a long-awaited gift accompanied by such fanfare as if their lives depended on it, you may wish to divert some generous attention to ensuring a minimum supply of rice to the great people of Senegal, your own country which, until you took over as head of the World Food and Agriculture Organization, used to be a rice basket for Africa. You would agree, perhaps, that something has gone wrong there. With our regards to President Wade, to the beautiful Ms. Yade, to Youssou N'dour, to Ismael Lo and all our brothers and sisters who -- proud as they were of you -- had expected more than just a photo opportunity when one billion people -- your people, our people -- have reached the point of starvation.