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October 21, 2008

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uke 61

There are many possible connections between prices and (civil) war. The one mentioned above is for sure important and might explain the development in Cote d'Ivoire (cocoa).
However, the case of Rwanda (falling coffee prices) points in quite another direction: Nobody had to rely on the income from coffee to keep the genocide going - the connection worked the other way round: Falling income for many probably was one of the factors that triggered the slaughter off.
The link between easy oil money and civil war is empirically well established. However, that does not necessarily point to "labour intensity". The cases of Liberia and Sierra Leone (diamonds, timber and even rubber in Libera) point in a second direction as does DR Congo (tantalum et al): Easy transport, little processing and a small amount of skills required for production are additional factors that must not be underestimated.

angus

Coffee and oil, eh?? ummm, aren't they leaving out a pretty major Colombian export??

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This is actually pretty relevant to the current global economic mess, and to the much-vaunted rehabilitation of Keynes (an October surprise!). Perhaps because post-war economists have taken far less interest in the political context and consequences of the policies they advocate than many of their predecessors, certainly including Keynes himself, it is less well known that it deserves to be that the economic causes of conflict (domestic and international) and economic means of encouraging political (including international) harmony was a theme in Keynes' work. This is all discussed in D Markwell's book on "John Maynard Keynes and International Relations", revealingly subtitled "Economic Paths to War and Peace". It is an important question what the consequences will be for civil strife in various countries, and for international politics, of the current economic mess (and whatever it becomes). Keynes argued in some little-known passages in The General Theory that his economics would be more conducive to peace than the old economics had been. He was implicitly arguing against socialists who said that capitalism caused war. Keynes said it didn't have to, if it was managed so as to prevent the economic causes of conflict. His work during world war II to create a new international economic order for the post-war world was partly driven by the desire to prevent a recurrence of economic crises that led to war. Maybe we should all take a cold shower and read some of Keynes on this today?

R McKenna

This is actually pretty relevant to the current global economic mess, and to the much-vaunted rehabilitation of Keynes (an October surprise!). Perhaps because post-war economists have taken far less interest in the political context and consequences of the policies they advocate than many of their predecessors, certainly including Keynes himself, it is less well known that it deserves to be that the economic causes of conflict (domestic and international) and economic means of encouraging political (including international) harmony was a theme in Keynes' work. This is all discussed in D Markwell's book on "John Maynard Keynes and International Relations", revealingly subtitled "Economic Paths to War and Peace". It is an important question what the consequences will be for civil strife in various countries, and for international politics, of the current economic mess (and whatever it becomes). Keynes argued in some little-known passages in The General Theory that his economics would be more conducive to peace than the old economics had been. He was implicitly arguing against socialists who said that capitalism caused war. Keynes said it didn't have to, if it was managed so as to prevent the economic causes of conflict. His work during world war II to create a new international economic order for the post-war world was partly driven by the desire to prevent a recurrence of economic crises that led to war. Maybe we should all take a cold shower and read some of Keynes on this today?

Andres

not trying to criticize in a bad way the work done..but i would like to share my vision of it..i think that the primary resource of the guerrilla in colombia are the cocain plantations and the process and divizas that they produce via ilegal exportation of cocain.. it is obvius that we can not make a regresion with the prices of the cocaine..for ethical and disponibility of information problems..and futhermore..i think that the colombian internal war it not has has as their primary objetives to control the natural resources of the country but to institute a diferent type of goverment (socialist-empiric comunism) for the guerrilla, and to mantain the statu-quo of the society, for the goverment..
Finally, i think it is important not to forget that some information says that the colombian guerrilla has financial suport from outside colombia..so i think that not only the prices of the natural resources that the country exports are relevant to study the war evolution in the country...

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Well said Angus...I think they are leaving out one of Colombia's biggest industries...that famous white powder. Might as well get realistic I think.

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I think I really want to visit Columbia some time.

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Interesting theory - but it would be worthwhile expanding the effects of high oil prices in the neighbouring countries. Venezuela for one has fascinating internal eonomic and social issues with or without high oil prices - though the higher they go, the more extreme they go. Unless they have reached the point of no return where strife caused by lower oil prices equals oil financed strife.

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Is it better to have many small, peaceful countries; or one big country torn by civil strife and discontent?
Why are some leaders so concerned with preventing secession? What are some of the reasons? Small countries can do just as well as large countries. (Singapore, Liechtenstein, Seychelles, Monaco, Malta....)

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hmm interesting question on the price of those commodities being related to the fighting.

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The central question is this: do higher world prices enhance or reduce the conflict? You could make arguments in both directions.

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Civil war exists when two or more opposing parties within a country resort to arms to settle a conflict or when a substantial portion of the population takes up arms against the legitimate government of a country. Within International Law distinctions are drawn between minor conflicts like riots, where order is restored promptly, and full-scale insurrections finding opposing parties in political as well as military control over different areas. When an internal conflict reaches sufficient proportions that the interests of other countries are affected, outside states may recognize a state of insurgency. A recognition of insurgency, whether formal or de facto, indicates that the recognizing state regards the insurgents as proper contestants for legitimate power. Although the precise status of insurgents under international law is not well-defined, recognized insurgents traditionally gain the protection afforded soldiers under international rules of law pertaining to war. A state may also decide to recognize the contending group as a belligerent, a status that invokes more well-defined rights and responsibilities.

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