The Political Economy of War: What Relief Agencies Need to Know

The relief community can benefit from the insights offered by a political economy approach to war. This essentially means analysing the production and distribution of power, wealth and destitution during armed conflicts, in order to expose the motives and responsibility of those involved, within a historical context.
This paper stresses the logic of war in a context characterised by state failure, unregulated global economies, socioeconomic disparities, identity politics and marginalisation. The winners, those who stand to gain from a state of war, may prolong a conflict if they have the power to do so but cannot ensure that an outright victory would keep them on the winning side.