Pro-War Capitalism in Sudan

1 Dec

A few days ago, my co-worker was “reminiscing” about the days post 9/11 when America bonded like no other time in history, when patriotism intensified, and the call to duty was amplified. He recalled when stores nationwide ran out of flags, patriotic pins, and supportive bumper stickers. Our conversation sparked my interest in how capitalism thrived after the 2001 attacks in America. After some research on the subject matter, I ran across a book titled: “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” The author, Naomi Klein examined–among several fascinating capitalistic gains– the responsiveness of the stock market, the Bush administration’s exploitation of 9/11, and the billion dollar contracts that GE won to produce bomb detection devices. I got completely absorbed in the book and just finished reading it.

However, I was left with infinite questions when I started applying Klein’s examples to a Sudanese context. Other than the hundreds of the overpaid “extra” UN workers, which businesses are thriving due to “disaster capitalism?” In the US for example, GE’s advantage is twofold: it is involved in the weapons industry, while simultaneously gaining from the “atmosphere of fear and crisis” it spreads through media outlets—GE owns NBC. Klein described disaster capitalism perfectly when she said: “its war against evil everywhere with no end. That’s a war that can’t be won, and you couldn’t ask for a more profitable business plan. The only thing that threatens it is peace.” I can’t help but wonder, what is Sudan’s GE?

10 Responses to “Pro-War Capitalism in Sudan”

  1. Eu December 1, 2008 at 2:44 am #

    Why compare elephants and ants?

    Sudan, and any developing country for that matter, don’t have GE’s and that’s just the way things are.

    Sudan is supposed to be the recipient of aid – not just to feed people but for reconstruction and development – the carrot we got for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
    What proportion of the pledges have been met and who by?
    A neglible amount by only a handful of donors.

    The whole global economic system is forcefully tipped in favour of the developed few.

    Read: Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz

    and – the opposite of pro-war capitalism: Earth Democracy; Justice, Sustainability, and Peace by Vandana Shiva.

  2. sudaneseoptimist December 1, 2008 at 4:16 am #

    I agree, there aren’t any companies as large or profitable as GE, so we can’t logically draw a comparison there. However, profit is profit, whether its thousands, millions, or billions. What I am wondering about is what companies are directly or indirectly benefiting form the continuation of the Darfur crisis? Of the top of my head– airlines, hotels, and car dealerships all benefit from having a country with a constant influx of reporters, aid workers, country officials, etc…

    Intentional or not, Klein pointed out that some businesses secretly wish for the frequency of natural disaster or war. She did mention a few third world/developing countries as well.

    Also, while it is true that Sudan and other developing nations don’t have GE’s, there are many mega-profitable conglomerates– DAL group is a good example.

  3. Eu December 1, 2008 at 6:45 am #

    You pose a very interesting question nonetheless.

    Yep DAL is a good example but they cater to the local market right?
    Construction, Coke, dairy, compressed gases…
    Maybe Ozone and KICS are the ones that really serve a more expatriot than Sudanese market.

    Airlines, hotels and car dealerships did flourish prior to Darfur as economic opportunities and foreign investors flocked (and continue to flock) in…

    There was an article a year or so ago in the NYT if I’m not mistaken talking about the hostels and eateries that sprung up not in Khartoum but in AlFasher to accommodate the expatriot workers, and peacekeeping soldiers / police-forces.

    The accommodation industry has definitely flourished because of all the expatriot NGO workers and most of that money goes into private Sudanese pockets.

    Imagine if the Darfur crisis ended tomorrow – what would that mean to Save Darfur and other NGO’s and their hundred million dollar balance-sheets and payrolls and employees…….?

  4. Mustafa December 1, 2008 at 7:21 am #

    Very interesting… but I was wondering too, are the Sudanese people actually ‘scared’ of things?

    People here in America really are afraid, and they are willing to pay more to feel safer… but do the people in Sudan really feel that way?

    Also, 9/11 was a sudden, surprise attack… and I’m not aware of any such attack occurring in Sudan to stimulate such a sudden change in the outlook of the entire country (perhaps the whole thing in Omdurman? but it doesn’t feel like that situation has changed that much…)

    Lastly, all of the stuff I see passes through my “America-Filter”, and because of that, i’m not too sure of what is truly happening over there… so if i made any incorrect assumptions, please correct me

  5. Eu December 1, 2008 at 9:25 am #

    I think that people in Sudan and similar countries are charged with being fatalistic, the in-sha-Allah attitude and
    الكاتبه ربنا بيبقا
    and
    المؤمن مصاب
    so I agree that due to the psycho-spiritual make-up of society people are less scared and jittery over there as they are in western societies.

  6. Faisal December 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Wow! Very interesting theory!

  7. sudaneseoptimist December 2, 2008 at 6:35 am #

    Eu—Khartoum is not necessarily the main beneficiary, but the Alfasher NYtimes example you gave is an excellent one. There are many other wise deadbeat towns that have been economically stimulated by conflict continuation. It would be interesting to explore those towns/businesses. Just like you pointed out, a lot of NGOs would simply cease to exist; a lot of people would be laid off should the Darfur conflict be resolved. It gets me thinking about how productive these people are since they have conflicting interests!
    Mustafa—“People here in America really are afraid, and they are willing to pay more to feel safer… but do the people in Sudan really feel that way?”
    I absolutely agree with you. I thought about that too, I think scare tactics would not affect the Sudanese people as much, they have been numbed by years of war, and it’s almost become second nature to have an internal conflict. Another aspect I thought of is patriotism. Just how patriotic are we? It seems like our patriotism is put on display when we leave Sudan, but how often do you see people in Sudan with flags—especially that we are in war times. Overall, I think it is more or less about the economic opportunity that presents itself when a country is faced with a disaster of sorts.

    I recently read on someone’s blog (Amjad?) that during a recent Eid Al Adha, there were rumors of diseased cattle (Rift Valley Fever?). I believe the ministry of health and the ministry of animal resources issued contradictory statements about the validity of the rumors, thus causing fear and confusion. They then directed people to purchase sheep from select sellers– which were probably owned by NCP members. I though that was an interesting example of how some businesses/people benefit from scare tactics and “disasters.”

  8. Eu December 2, 2008 at 11:56 pm #

    Those people (Save Darfur et al.) are productive alright – serving their interests and reacting to the seemingly self-perpetuating conflict but the blood, sweat and tears – the sustainable development – that’s the domain of the Sudanese and the Sudanese alone.

    About being scared – those Sudanese who have been numbed by the war are a special category but I don’t think most have had that experience.
    I don’t think the war has anything to do with our fatalism – I think it’s part of the spiritual make-up of Sudanese Muslims.

    How patriotic are we?
    See the welcome that world 800m champion Abubakr Kaki got on returning from the championships?
    The NYT had another surprisingly even-handed article about how masses of Sudanese people had marched and spoke out against the ICC indictment, not necessarily for love of the President but out of national pride.

    Yes last year last Eid there was an international quarantine on Sudanese livestock for fear of the RVV.
    That stopped some people from eating red meat – but by far not all.
    The comedian on Alshurooq channel went around asking people if they were going to eat red meat and ‘all’ those interviewed replied with a resounding yes.
    Fear of the horrible virus lost on the cost-benefit anaylsis scale to having a good sheyya. Some would call that as reckless behaviour – our people don’t scare as easily.

  9. Haythum A. Osman February 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    I tell you:
    1- The government.
    2- Rebel Leaders.
    3- The UN and its contractors and suppliers.
    4- Some of Media Agencies.
    5- Many of the supporting countries -together with their companies and agencies.
    6- War leaders

    the list go on…..

    the only ones who suffer was people who stucked in this giant wheel.

  10. Haythum A. Osman February 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    I tell you:
    1- The government.
    2- Rebel Leaders.
    3- The UN and its contractors and suppliers.
    4- Some of Media Agencies.
    5- Many of the supporting countries -together with their companies and agencies.
    6- War leaders

    the list go on…..

    the only ones who suffer was people who stuck in this giant wheel.

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