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Book review:

The Economics of Killing: How the West fuels War and Poverty in the developing world by Vijay Mehta

Pluto Press ISBN 978 – 0 7453- 3224 – 6

Peace activist Vijay Mehta analyses global trends, and (in Africa), European neo-colonialism.

An article cited by Boubacar Boris Diop in Foreign Policy magazine 2010 describes how De Gaulle’s advisor Jacques Foccart established France’s position after the decolonisation of Francophone Africa.

“His methods were simple. Install trusted African politicians, some with French nationality, as heads of the 14 new states and maintain the firm French grasp on their natural resources. With almost 60,000 troops on the African continent the French could use them to rush to the dictator’s aid at a moment’s notice… French spies were available to assassinate their opponents.”

Mehta also notes Chinese influence, exercised too via puppet regimes and militias. In the Congo, Chinese infiltration is driven by a demand for coltan, which sells for hundreds of dollars per kg, (it is used in mobile telephones) and for other rare minerals, e.g. pyrochlore and niobium.

Africa’s mineral resources are stolen and its human resources poached.

Mehta points out that South Africa has only 500 practising mining engineers and a similar scarcity of middle managers and that there are more Malawian doctors in Birmingham, England, than the whole of Malawi. African countries spend an estimated $4 billion annually to plug the skills gap.

A provocative if somewhat depressing book.



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