Monday, November 24, 2014

where the rubber hits the road

Anyone interested in the intersection of American business with bloodbath-prone countries could do worse than watching "Firestone and the Warlord," a Frontline documentary that digs into the question of Firestone's complicity in various wars in Liberia. At one time, Firestone owned the largest rubber plantation in the world in Liberia and provided the bulk of America's tires at a time when motorized vehicles were becoming indispensable.

The company, bought out by the Japanese and rebranded as Bridgestone, saw little or nothing wrong with the financial and moral support it implicitly gave to the power-bent rebels. Their reasoning was based, it seems on A. profit and B. the argument that their organization benefited people who might otherwise be destitute.

I found the video interesting for the clash of templates ... the moral questions of 'using' those who are poor and less savvy vs. the profit questions that make the rich richer and the poor only marginally better off. Firestone did some good things (medical, schooling) for those it touched. But it also funded a philosophical and actual warlord with enormous amounts of blood on his hands.

1 comment:

  1. Gun boat diplomacy and banana republics are not new to the american lexicon.