Fueling War ; with the Cold War over, More Global Conflicts Are Being Spurred by a Scramble for Natural Resources Rather Than by Geopolitics, and Poor Countries Rich in Mineral Deposits Are the New Focal Point

By David R. Francis writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 5, 2002 | Go to article overview

Fueling War ; with the Cold War over, More Global Conflicts Are Being Spurred by a Scramble for Natural Resources Rather Than by Geopolitics, and Poor Countries Rich in Mineral Deposits Are the New Focal Point


David R. Francis writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Abundant resources - such as diamonds, emeralds, lapis lazuli, timber, coltan, and oil - should be an economic blessing to a developing nation. Too often, they aren't. They fund conflicts.

More and more, "resource wars" trouble poor countries.

The pillaging of diamonds, for example, has fed civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone. Coltan, a costly mineral used in making cellphones, helps finance bloody fighting in Congo.

Altogether, about a quarter of the roughly 50 wars and armed conflicts active in 2001 had "a strong resource dimension," says Michael Renner, a senior researcher with Worldwatch Institute in Washington. In these cases, legal or illegal exploitation of resources helped trigger or exacerbate violent conflict, or financed its continuation. Resources sometimes become a curse, with the wars inflicting a horrendous human toll.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, an estimated 2 million to 3 million people were killed after Ugandan and Rwandan troops invaded in 1998 to assist rebel groups seeking to overthrow the government of Laurent Kabila. Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Chad sent troops in support of Kabila. But, notes Mr. Renner, the opportunity to plunder the enormous resource wealth of Congo soon came to be the primary incentive.

Altogether, roughly 5 million people were killed in resource wars in the 1990s. Renner calculates that 6 million fled to neighboring nations and 11 million to 15 million were displaced inside their countries.

These wars often have gruesome consequences. Children are turned into soldiers or slaves. Limbs are hacked off in order to terrorize populations. The environment is damaged as forests are cut down and wildlife populations are decimated.

As awareness of this problem has risen among industrial nations in the last two or three years, efforts to stem such conflicts have escalated.

Next week, the World Bank and the French Development Agency are holding a "brainstorming" workshop in Paris to explore what can be done to break the connections between resources and corrupt regimes and civil war.

The session has the backing of the International Monetary Fund, the Group of Eight major industrial powers, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the larger Paris-based club of industrial nations.

"We will attempt to see what, if anything, can be done," says Paul Collier, head of research at the World Bank in Washington.

Ideas for preventing or halting resource wars will be explored further in a series of meetings in coming months, with recommendations going to the economic summit of the leaders of the G8 in June.

Pillaging replaces geopolitics

During the cold war, many conflicts in Africa and elsewhere resulted from the geopolitical struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. But that motive has faded. The political divisions are being replaced by a global scramble to obtain or tie up essential resources.

"In some places, the pillaging of oil, minerals, metals, gemstones, or timber allows wars to continue that were triggered by other factors - initially driven by grievances or ideological struggles and bankrolled by the superpowers or other external supporters," writes Renner in a Worldwatch study, "The Anatomy of Resource Wars."

Recent academic research finds that wars in poor countries with rich mineral resources often last longer than similar conflicts during the cold war.

As the world's population increases from 6.1 billion to perhaps 9 billion by 2050, the growing demand on resources may stimulate further resource wars.

"Certain commodities which nations depend on are scarce or becoming scarcer," warns Michael Klare, a professor of peace and world securities studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. He suspects national armies will redefine their primary mission as maintaining resource security.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Fueling War ; with the Cold War over, More Global Conflicts Are Being Spurred by a Scramble for Natural Resources Rather Than by Geopolitics, and Poor Countries Rich in Mineral Deposits Are the New Focal Point
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.