Category: War

Returning Refugee
Shadows of War, page 184:
…The children take great exception to the common statements that children born and bred in war are a “lost generation”….

Illusion, the children respond. We know how we came to live this way. We can see who has and who doesn’t, who gives and who takes. We know we take better care of each other here [on the streets] than any of us would find in the places we ran from….

It seems quite wrong to deny that people, even in conflict and poverty, have lost control of their lives. Every movie asserts just this: that we are either screaming women, lost weeping children, or Rambo, in the face of conflict. The opposite seems to be true…people rise to occasions more often than not, and this is part of what I find so fascinating about conflict studies. Extreme situations bring out and amplify those skills and abilities that make us human beings, both for good and bad.

Shadows of War, page 196:
I asked him: “If, at the end of the colonial or apartheid era your government asked you to recommend an economic development plan, what would you recommend?”
He responded: “My first inclination is to say that the countries must ask their people to continue working in the same way for several years while economic policy is carefully revised to meet new standards.”
“But, how could you ask your community, your friends, your own family to work on under chibalo (forced labor), to continue to suffer a lack of medical care and education while the elite few enjoy these privileges?”
“Ah, herein lies the problem.”

Crime Map
Nordstrom’s book, Shadows of War, will put a spin on the idea that one can develop rules of engagement (ROE) for peace-keeping missions. How can one develop ROE when the soldiers, INGOs, GOs are all involved in every form of trade, resource extraction, etc., that a country can support. Or, are ROE only for highly-trained Western troops when they’re on good behavior?

As I read the book, I feel I could scan it, gloss over the details, because it seems I know the facts despite not having seen the Blood Diamond. The power is in reading it and sustaining attention to the subject.

I suspect Nordstrom had the same experience of finally seeing what she knew to be true. She mentions being awakened from “academic innocence” when she encountered the stories she’d only heard about: gem smuggling on INGO airplanes, the huge and senseless expenditures of the UN for a meaningless theater of elections in Mozambique.


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© Copyright 2014 David I. Gross