In Box

Profits of Doom

War is hell, but not for men like Victor Bout, Tim Spicer, Arcadi Gaydamak, and Jacques Monsieur. For them, war is big business. Bout, nicknamed "the merchant of death" by one British government official, owned the world’s largest private fleet of huge Antonov cargo planes, which he used to trade guns and weapons systems for ...

War is hell, but not for men like Victor Bout, Tim Spicer, Arcadi Gaydamak, and Jacques Monsieur. For them, war is big business. Bout, nicknamed "the merchant of death" by one British government official, owned the world’s largest private fleet of huge Antonov cargo planes, which he used to trade guns and weapons systems for diamonds and precious minerals. Spicer is a leading figure in Sandline, one of the world’s most prominent private military companies (PMCS). Gaydamak, who claims to be one of the five richest men in Israel, reportedly has ties to arms smuggling, resource exploitation, and pmcs. Monsieur is believed to be one of Europe’s biggest arms traffickers. Together, these men represent "a new breed of opportunists that has come to dominate the global landscape of conflicts since the end of the Cold War," say the authors of "Making a Killing: The Business of War," a new report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) at the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.

A two-year effort by 35 editors, writers, and researchers on four continents, the report provides a chilling look not only at characters such as Bout but at the 90 PMCS that operate in 110 countries; corrupt African governments in places like Liberia and Angola that "are little more than criminal syndicates"; oil companies such as the now defunct Elf-Acquitaine, which supplied arms to both sides in Angola’s civil war; and Western governments that either turn a blind eye or use these entities to further their own ends. See the ICIJ’s Web site for the full text of the report.

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