The Toyota Land Cruiser and its Role in Spreading Terror among African Civilians: Field Observations
I have been working as a researcher in a number of regions of Africa, focusing on conflict and its causes. I have observed many significant factors in aggravating conflicts, and in this posting I do not want to add to the large literature on the causes of conflict, but rather to address one important technological element in those conflicts.
In all my field research I have observed one common instrument used by all parties to a conflict, whether rebels and governments. This is the Toyota Land Cruiser. This vehicle is manufactured for civilian purposes in Japan, but now it has become the favored weapon of war in Africa and plays an important role in enabling insurgents and governments to conduct war in their preferred manner, and also to expand their theaters of operations. It is especially widely used in dry areas such as the Sahel and Sahara and in Somalia.
I have seen the Landcruiser used by rebels to transport weapons, ammunition and supplies. They adapt it to fix anti-aircraft guns which they use against ground targets and people, or heavy machine guns. Equipped with a high degree of mobility and first-strike capacity, the nature of rebellions has changed. Instead of trying to control a population and build a civilian support base, most rebels now use Landcruisers on operations that spread terror among civilian communities. They strike in order to demonstrate their power and capacity and to send a message to the public that they are able to inflict harm on governments. In addition, the Landcruiser has been used widely in illegal activities especially human trafficking, trading in small arms, attacks on traders by looting their trucks and goods, and even mounting assaults on banks or other public service that provide assistance to the ordinary citizen in towns or villages. All these offensive actions which spread fear among civilian communities involve using the Toyota Land Cruiser, which can therefore be considered one of the tools that aggravates conflict in Africa.
African governments spend large amounts of money to buy Land Cruisers to use them for war instead of using their resources in the field of development. Also various regional and international powers supply rebels with Landcruisers in order to destabilize or overthrow governments in ways that serve their interests.
What I would like to highlight in this post, that the Toyota Company and the Japanese government receive huge economic benefits from selling this Land Cruiser battleship to African countries, while this proliferation of land battleships aggravates conflict in those same countries.
Ethically, should not Japan and those companies and governments that are involved in and benefit from distributing these Land Cruisers in Africa, which are used for military purposes, bear some responsibility for aggravating conflicts and the attendant loss of life and property?
As activists work on achieving peace and security in Africa, we have to find ways to reduce the role of Land Cruisers in aggravating conflict in Africa. We should demand mechanisms to restrict or prohibit its distribution and use for military purposes. Perhaps the sale of Land Cruisers to Africa be monitored and regulated in the same way that the arms trade is scrutinized.
The Japanese government and the Toyota company must bear some responsibility for distributing the material means for aggravating and prolonging conflicts in Africa. They should also find ways of putting conditions on selling Land Cruisers and monitoring their distributors and agents to know where these vehicles will be exported and for what purpose. They should contribute to peace and development efforts by offering economic assistance for the social development for those suffering communities negatively affected by Land Cruisers battleships.
13 Responses to The Toyota Land Cruiser and its Role in Spreading Terror among African Civilians: Field Observations
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You are the first person to say this: from the Qaddafi war to the rebels in D.R. Congo, the Nippon tool has played a good part.
What about the Toyota Landcruiser and the NGOs that have done much good in Africa. The Landcruiser is the vehicle of choice because it is simply the best at getting people around these often difficult landscapes. MSF, Catholic Charities, and many other organization use the same vehicle as the “bad guys” to get around because there aren’t any better options. Don’t blame the vehicle or the place that makes the best vehicle around.
You are so true Arnie… And how come someone blame a vehicle.. Well If I was Toyota I would take this article as a Compliment.
Is there anything specific about the Land Cruiser that makes it an instrument of war?
If you prohibited the sale of Land Cruisers wherever they could eventually be used for violent purposes (somehow?)… Rebels and armies would just use another truck.
The problem is the causes and reinforcing factors of conflict, not the general-purpose tools people use once they’re in that situation.
The same vehicle is widely used throughout the continent to carry market goods and for civilian purposes. In rural areas, in particular, is frequently modified to carry passengers – civilian ones, who use it as a form of everyday transport. You are right that it is often put to military purposes, but it is far more commonly a mainstay of rural peacetime trade and.
If you’re going to class this as a “military technology” you might as well class all flat bed trucks as “battleships,” which is patently ridiculous.
Frankly, you should be a bit more cautious in your argumentation. In the echo chambers of the development world, I could see this quickly being taken up as some kind of misguided crusade to ban Land Cruisers. By focusing on the technology and putting aside the “large literature on the causes of conflict,” you are missing the point. The important question is why these young men are taking up arms in the first place – not what kind of vehicle they attach them to.
I agree with all the earlier comments – the Landcruiser is the vehicle of choice for ALL agencies, governments and NGOs who need to transport people or goods in difficult terrain. So I don’t quite get the point of this observation. I have no idea of the statistics but I would venture to say that the Toyota Hilux (vehicle in the picture) actually plays a greater role because it has an open bed, much easier to affix heavy weaponry!
The point here is that Toyota knowingly sold large batches of this vehicle to unbelievably evil people like Kony, the Taliban, ISIS and brutal dictators.
Toyota is profiting from supplying these vehicles. This is not just a theoretical debate. US and Australian soldiers have been killed by militants and terrorists using these vehicles as mobile gunnery platforms.
If Toyota didn’t sell to these groups, they might get the vehicles in other ways, or use other vehicles, but it would make it harder for those groups, and take more time. But in war torn regions, parts are only available for Toyotas, so if the Taliban switched to Chevys, there would be lots of cases of broken down trucks stranding terrorists in the desert.
It is unethical.
There is no issue with Toyota selling the vehicles to aid agencies etc.
Uhhh, Mr. Powell, ISIS did not exactly send a bunch of purchase orders over to Toyota. They are a band of robbers who simply stole the Toyotas from the dealerships in the towns they ransacked and burned.
We should ban the wheel; it’s used in wars and liquor store robberies everywhere!
Wow. I mean, wow. ISIS beheads children and burns people alive in cages and you think they actually buy anything? They are evil incarnate. There are Land Cruisers all over this region. They don’t have to buy them. They just take them.
Gracias por compartir
I am appauled (But can’t spell) about the number of toyota (no cap from me) trucks on the news, in enemy hands. No toyota should be sold to islamic or any other terrorists. how ’bout this: Good guys don’t sell anything to bad guys. Let them throw rocks, like the good ol’ days.
Weapons manufacturers sell weapons to anyone in exchange for cash. “Good” guys provide training and intelligence to all manner of violent repressive regimes. Take recent events in Libya, The British special forces were training Gadaffi’s forces weeks before he was overthrown. The US armed Saddam with the Nerve gas he dropped on civilians. British forces trained the Khmer Rouge on laying mines and made Cambodia one of the most mined places on earth.
By the articles crazy benchmark Toyota are to be held responsible for the end use of what is a car, so using the same yardstick, Landrover are responsible for the occupation/colonisation/exploitation of half the planet.
Just because Toyata manufacure the most reliable vehicle compared to its rivals and people choose to use it for violent purposes it isn’t their fault. As a side point Landrover actively produce and market a military version of its defender complete with weapons mounts and are happy to supply it to repressive regimes responsible for war crimes. We need to encourage this because using crappy unreliable American and British vehicles could well bring world piece (If we could get them to stop selling guns at the same time)
Stop blaming the tool for what bad people use it for!!!!!!!!!!