There is a wealth of information, printed and electronic, now available on just about every conflict, trouble spot, and threat matrix around the world. Much of this flood of information can lead to a vetting problem; there is always something taken out of context or twisted to fit an agenda.
The other problem, when doing research on threats and longstanding conflicts, is that some writers, due to their specialization, become so focused on their chosen area of study that other factors, sometimes very important factors, can be left out of their analysis. This absolutely requires that anyone interested in learning more about what is going on in any conflict zone read extensively, across multiple sources and disciplines, in order to begin to build that “big picture.”
Here are a few examples: Misha Glenny’s book “McMafia” is an extensive look at the world of organized crime, especially in light of the globalization that has occurred since 1991. He explores not only the local and transnational organized crime networks around the world, but also many of the direct links these networks have with state governments, particularly in the former Soviet Union. He delves into the corruption and, in some cases, “state capture” that enables these networks, particularly when narcotics traffickers are involved.
But when reading the section on Nigeria, something stood out amid his discussion of the Nigerian 419 scam networks and their reputed non-violence: He mentioned the three-way ethnic and linguistic breakdown of the country, and briefly touched on the Biafran War. What doesn’t come out in his repeated stress on the non-violence of Nigerians as evidenced by their predominant use of email scams as a revenue producer, is that he skims over the horrific violence of the Biafran War. These supposedly nonviolent Nigerians slaughtered each other to the tune of over a million dead in four years, with 30,000 being killed in the opening days, mostly with clubs and machetes.