War, Inequality and Resource Scarcity

Kalembi, Masisi district Feb 08. This 9 month old baby weighing only 4 kilos is measured at a clinic run by MSF at this FDLR controlled village, in which the inhabitants — like most others in the region – sleep in the bush with no access to crops nor food . Hence, this poor child’s severe malnutrition is but one of the numerous cases affecting the displaced population.

The procurement, management and deployment of humans, animals, foodstuffs, money and matériel is central to war. Conflicts militarize nature, drawing civilian landscapes (homes, communities, lands) into military fields of vision. Probably the most understudied, and under-theorised, area of war studies concerns resources and the directly related field of logistics. As war becomes more embedded among the populace it is all the more important that the business of waging war should be investigated with regard to broader social, economic and cultural concerns.

This theme provides an opportunity to look at war-related logistics in the past and the present, with a view also to the future, and to do so in ways that engages with major concerns held by governments, NGOs and supranational bodies. At the heart of logistics are resources, and the acquisition, management and use of resources in war require scholars to consider the means and practices by which they are obtained from society.

Throughout history, logisticians and war leaders have to contend not only with the immediate practical questions of resourcing – they also have to consider the effects upon non-combatants, upon the sustainability of human and other resources, and upon the stamina of the goose that lays the golden eggs of supplies. It is no less important that this strand should allow for study of the way the organising of war efforts generates unequal risks and unequal outcomes for those who participate in the logistics of war. As human subsistence has become a matter of human rights, concerns over inadequate subsistence created by war – with inadequacy often related to inequality – have generated burgeoning interest among philosophers, lawyers and geographers. Finally, alongside the question of raising and using resources for the pursuit of conflict, this strand allows students the opportunity to investigate the way resource scarcity can lead to tensions and wars; and this can take the form of organised low-intensity conflict between local armed groups as much as inter-state hostilities over, for example, fisheries, agricultural land or other resources.