From Angola to Iraq, wars have taken place in resource rich countries full of poor people. Wars of Plunder explores the interplay of natural resources and armed conflicts, and what the international community has tried to do about it. Focusing on key resources — oil, diamonds, and timber — the book argues that resources and wars are linked in three main ways. First, resource revenues finance belligerents, a trend that has become all the more conspicuous since the withdrawal of Cold War foreign sponsorship in the late s. Even in the context of the War on Terror redefining military assistanc Second, resource exploitation frequently generates tensions. Third, resource dependence present major governance challenges, from handling volatile resource revenues to addressing risks of corruption and authoritarianism. Not all resources are the same, however, and effective responses can be found. Sanctions, military interventions and wealth sharing have helped bring an end to some conflicts, yet only deeper domestic and international reforms in resource governance can stop the plunder.
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Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources
In light of its command of a vast literature and its wealth of descriptive details it should be given a prominent place on the bookshelf of any researcher in related fields and should be the first book read by any new student of the field. Focusing on key resources — oil, diamonds, and timber — he argues that resources and wars are linked in three main ways. First, resource revenues finance belligerents, a trend that has become all the more conspicuous since the withdrawal of Cold War foreign sponsorship in the late s. Second, resource exploitation generates conflict.
Philippe Le Billon
Drawing on his years of direct field experience, Le Billon broadens the scope of inquiry by asking whether the presence of resources is the problem or if the problem is the context of resource exploitation 9. Le Billon is clear, however, to emphasize that the deterministic view of resources causing conflicts is incorrect, and that ignoring how resources shape and are expressive of social relations is a mistake. Le Billon centers his argument around three dimensions: vulnerability, risk, and opportunity. With numerous possible resources to analyze, Le Billon concentrates on three: oil, diamonds, and timber because these resources account for most resource related violence post Cold War. These resources also share an important characteristic: while produced by nature, they must be extracted from nature to be useful. Extraction is inherently a social endeavor requiring complex relationships between multiple parties throughout the commodity chain. Expanding the number of parties analyzed allows Le Billon to broaden the definition of violence considered. For example, when discussing oil, Le Billon does not assign blame for violence solely to rebel groups. In regards to diamonds, a narrow definition of violence would exclude De Beers from any blame even though they profited from conflict diamonds and resisted attempts to curtail the trade
Philippe Le Billon. New York: Columbia University Press, Le Billion chides predominant realist, neoliberal, and securitization views that explain resource-based conflicts and have birthed similarly limited conflict-termination strategies. While not a book for the novice student of conflict, his comprehensive assessment seeks to reshape scholarly views of resource-based conflicts. Given the nature of the topic, this is not a book for the average Joe. Thus, the resource curse, the resource conflict, and conflict resources all enable a conflict and natural-resource relationship typically studied in depth in IR and political science courses. For example, he uses a mixed method of study, explicitly calling on large-N and case studies to formulate his approach to assessing the relationship between resources and conflict.