Blood Diamonds in Africa Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1513 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Blood Diamonds

The Prologue in Greg Campbell's book Blood Diamonds: Tracing The Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones is not for the faint hearted. In fact this book isn't for the person who is squeamish or finds graft, torture, violence, greed and terror discomforting. Like other strife-torn cultures and violent situations in Africa in 2009, the Sierra Leone of 2002, reflected all the horrors of classic African civil wars. But ironically the Sierra Leone of 2002 also reflected the glittering wealth that power and diamonds can produce.

The Economics of Diamonds: The story of how one company took over the mining and the marketing of diamonds is told very thoroughly by Campbell. That company is De Beers, and having been established in 1888 and at that time in control of 90% of all the diamonds in the world, De Beers spent the twentieth century pursing a plan that was "…as simple as it was ruthless: buy as much of the world production as possible and tightly control global distribution" (Campbell, p. 108). Much like the OPAC group can control the price of oil by cutting back on production, De Beers has controlled the price of diamonds by "curtailing either production or distribution" -- putting only enough stones on the market to keep the price up where De Beers wants it (Campbell, p. 108).Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Research Paper on Blood Diamonds in Africa Assignment

And even though De Beers ended up owning most of the diamond mines in the world, in the same way as a cartel owns the trafficking rights to heroin and cocaine in Mexico, or Columbia, to be able to keep the price up beyond diamonds' real actual value, De Beers also had to promote the myth that for anyone anywhere in the world, if you fall in love with a woman you must give her a diamond to seal the deal. Campbell spends a fair amount of narrative on the De Beers' marketing strategies, as if to prove what a bunch of fools the men of the world are when they fall for marketing phrases like "A diamond is forever," and "Show her that you'll love her for another thousand years" (Campbell, p. 112). In sharp contrast to the violence and bloodshed that is a near-constant theme within the process of mining diamonds in Sierra Leone, the advertising and selling of diamonds in the global marketplace, is, slick, glossy, high-tone and offers not the slightest hint of bloodshed and the chopping off of men's hands at the critical mass of the mines.

There is such a huge demand for diamonds that smuggling isn't reserved for "fringe characters," as Campbell puts it (p. 38), "who are covered with scars" and located in crummy bars and airport lounges "sipping cheap gin." A "prominent British diamond merchant" got caught by agents from Scotland Yard and charged with having illegally smuggled diamonds worth $2 million into Belgium from London.

Why would a "prominent" businessperson get involved in illegal activities, when there is so much to lose? The likely answer is because there is also so much to gain, taking risks is just part of the path people in diamonds seem willing to choose. Diamonds after all are very small and easy to conceal -- it is not like smuggling rare / endangered wildlife, or weapons, or drugs.

Speaking of weapons, diamonds are such a valuable commodity on the world market that Al Queda has apparently purchased weapons and other supplies and services thanks to diamonds from Sierra Leone. The Al Queda organization smuggled, traded for, or purchased in some form many diamonds from the Kono diamond mine in Sierra Leone.

Indeed, bin Laden's operatives had been buying "millions of dollars worth of Sierra Leone diamonds for the past three years," Campbell writes (p. 100) prior to September 11, 2001. These purchases had been going on for three years prior to 9/11, Campbell asserts, "…in preparation for that day."

"Somewhere out there is a multimillion-dollar cache of goods from Kono," Campbell writes (p. 201). Whether the diamonds that Al Queda has smuggled out of Africa are in a "Hamburg safe-deposit box" or in a "cave in the Tora Bora Mountains," they are the terrorists' "ace in the hole," the author continues (p. 201). There is no proof that the diamonds Al Queda acquired from Sierra Leone were "specifically used to fund the hijackings" that led to the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, but there are strong links, according to Campbell's book, that leads investigators in that direction.

"Trafficking in conflict diamonds is a well-established business with millions of dollars on the line," Campbell writes (p. 202). Money realized through the trafficking of diamonds "props up not only rebel insurgencies and the bank accounts of their leaders," but diamond trafficking also helps: the president of Liberia, who receives "a substantial amount of revenue" through the black market; the "gunrunning industry," that realizes "enormous profits" through diamond deals; and "thousands of middle-tier diamond brokers" (Campbell, p. 202).

The African Diamond Economy and Terrorism: How do diamonds get from the mines to the exporter and then overseas to the marketplace? The Sierra Leon government issues licenses to just about anyone who applies for a license and can pass a very basic background check. That license holder then hires some workers to dig out the diamonds, and when he has a supply they are brought to Freetown and provide "proof" through receipts that the diamonds were mined in acceptable, legitimate fashion. The receipts (Campbell, p. 44) can be forged easily, the author notes. Once they are given the official stamp of legitimacy by the government, they are sealed in a box at the "Government Gold and Diamond Office (GGDO).

In the unlicensed mines, "rebel field workers are lucky to end their days exhausted and hungry," Campbell writes on page 54. "Many have ended them in a shallow grave." The task of taking over a diamond mine, as described by Campbell on page 54, is as easy as "…showing up with a rifle" and demanding that everyone down in the murky pit "start handing their discoveries over to the new bosses."

Morality? Certainly there is a moral issue to all of this diamond business the author quotes De Beers' PR representative Andy Bone as asserting. Whether the discussion is about ruthless killers in Africa -- that own the "conflict" mines and put prisoners to work at the hard labor of extracting diamonds from the muck and mud -- or bin Laden's terrorist group. "No one in the industry is going to hide behind wringing hands, or hearts-on-your-sleeves kind of thing," said Bone.

There is a "big moral dimension to this," Bone adds before addressing what everyone in the world who is informed already knows: "…We're happy to talk about the enormous commercial loss and gain potential of this as well…yes let's get rid of conflict diamonds" Bone continued (p. 100). On the next page, Campbell meets with the PR people in London that work at the De Beers' building (Diamond Trading Company, DTC), a "huge cement block" building that "looks like it could have been designed" by the United States Department of Corrections.

Tim Weeks, one of the De Beers' PR people, agreed with Campbell "conflict diamonds are terrible…but they represent a very small portion of rough stones" that are mined internationally, he insists. And trying to blame the media, he goes on to suggest that indeed the "sensationalistic" reporting about smuggling, and stories about the amputated hands of civilians, and graft and corruption "could have dire consequences" for the diamond industry, Weeks explains to Campbell (p. 101).

It was a given that the job of Weeks and the other smooth public relations professionals working for De Beers was to "juggle acknowledgment of the horrors caused by conflict diamonds within the context of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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