The Thin Blue Line
How Humanitarianism Went to War
By Conor Foley
(Verso, Hardcover, 9781844672899, 266pp.)
Publication Date: October 17, 2008
List Price: $26.95*
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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.
A humanitarian aid worker, Conor Foley has been employed by a variety of human rights and humanitarian organizations, including Liberty, Amnesty International and the UNHCR, in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Colombia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Liberia, Northern Uganda, the Caucasus and Bosnia-Herzegovina. His books include Combating Torture.