By John Prendergast
More than any other factor, war has driven and shaped human history. Superficially, many wars appear to be senseless. Look beneath the surface, and there is one common denominator: unchecked greed. War may be hell for the people in conflict-ridden countries, but it is very profitable and politically beneficial for a small group of ruthless opportunists.
This is hauntingly true in the region I’ve lived in or worked on throughout the past 35 years: East and Central Africa — the deadliest war zone globally since World War II — which includes Darfur, South Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is unchecked greed that created this “looting machine” in East and Central Africa. For war profiteers, crime pays. And violence — even genocide — has a purpose: to maintain or gain power in order to control the primary sources of wealth.
And boy, is there ever wealth. East and Central Africa has some of the richest troves of natural resources in the world. Oil, gold, diamonds, ivory, tin, tantalum, tungsten, copper, cobalt, timber and arable land mean that the “scramble for Africa” continues, as American, European, Asian, Middle Eastern and African companies and governments collaborate with local power brokers and armed groups to extract — often violently and illegally — these riches…
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