x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Useful Enemies: When conflict is courted by warmongers

This eye-opening book will change the way you look at conflicts and the humanitarian efforts aimed at alleviating their impact on civilians.

Useful Enemies by David Keen.
Useful Enemies by David Keen.

In Useful Enemies, David Keen challenges the widely held notion that the chief objective of war is winning.

He examines scenarios in which the actors involved have a vested interest in seeing the fighting continue indefinitely, pointing to examples including Sri Lanka, Sudan, Colombia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.

Keen, a professor of complex emergencies at the London School of Economics, writes: “Powerful state and insurgency actors often are more interested in reaping the economic and political benefits of a conflict than in bringing it to a close.”

This, he says, can take the form of looting, graft, extortion and sexual opportunities.

Other motivations include a desire for control of resource-rich areas; dependence on humanitarian aid, which a country is likely to receive when it is ravaged by conflict; and politicians trying to strengthen their powerbase by defining their opponents as enemies.

This eye-opening book will change the way you look at conflicts and the humanitarian efforts aimed at alleviating their impact on civilians.