The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War
The idea that we should "do something" to help those suffering in far-off places is the main impulse driving those who care about human rights. Yet from Kosovo to Iraq, military interventions have gone disastrously wrong.
In this groundbreaking new book, Conor Foley explores how the doctrine of humanitarian intervention has been used to allow states to invade other nations in the name of human rights. Drawing on his own experience of working in over a dozen conflict and post-conflict zones, Foley shows how the growing influence of international law has been used to override the sovereignty of the poorest countries in the world.
The Thin Blue Line describes how in the last twenty years humanitarianism has emerged as a multibillion dollar industry that has played a leading role in defining humanitarian crises, and shaping the foreign policy of Western governments and the United Nations. Yet, too often, this has been informed by myths and assumptions that rest on an ill-informed post-imperial arrogance. Movements set up to show solidarity with the powerless and dispossessed have ended up betraying them instead.
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The thin blue line between ‘humanitarianism’ and war
Conor Foley’s account of how human rights violations became a justification for launching wars reminds us of the need for a political critique of interventionism. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.
Conor Foley has been a humanitarian aid worker in over a dozen conflict zones, including Kosovo, Afghanistan and northern Uganda. His latest book traces the development of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention and how it’s been used to justify the use of force by powerful states. It’s called The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War. [includes rush transcript]
Human Rights and Humanitarians
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