In this season of giving, it’s important to remember that for nearly 100 years when civilians anywhere in the world have been impacted by a major natural disaster or wartime conflict a universal response has been: “America will help.”
That was not the case before World War I (1914-1918), and is becoming less certain during a Trump presidency. Looking back at one of the major reasons for this shift can be enlightening.
Little known today, an American-led food relief program during the war can arguably be said to have helped start the redefining of how the world saw America and how America perceived its role in the world after WWI.
The nongovernmental Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), along with its counterpart in Belgium, the Comité National de Secours et d’Alimentation (CN), were responsible for the largest food relief program the world had ever seen. Nearly 10 million Belgian and northern French civilians trapped behind German lines were fed every day during WWI.
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