The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War

Overview

"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
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Overview

"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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Editorial Reviews

Scott Malcomson
[Foley's] discussion of the humanitarians' use of politics to further their ends benefits not only from his legal training but also from his insider's experience. Foley seems to have been in almost every geopolitical mess from Kosovo to Afghanistan. He has watched as the nongovernmental organizations began, ever so slowly at first, to endorse the use of force for humanitarian purposes.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Former South African Member of Parliament Feinstein delivers a damning portrait of the African National Congress in this lacerating political memoir. The author, who won a seat in the provincial legislature in South Africa's first democratic elections, affectionately recounts the tenure of Nelson Mandela as president, reserving his criticism for Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki, whom he excoriates repeatedly-and sometimes repetitiously-for his denial of the country's AIDS crisis and failure to exert political pressure on Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. The book's central narrative hinges on an investigation into an arms deal that revealed the depth of corruption in the Mbeki-led ANC. The text follows the investigation and the changing fortunes of the ANC through Mbeki's resignation in September of 2008, concluding at a moment of uncertainty for the country and the party. The author occasionally digresses from his compelling history of South African politics to reflect on his own Jewish-African identity and his philosophical approach to government-influenced by the writings of Vaclav Havel. Charged with passionate conviction, this book is a deeply personal but far-reaching insider's account of a political party losing its way. (May)

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From the Publisher
“Fascinating and important ... rigorous and nuanced.”—Stephen Poole, Guardian

“Poised to influence debate ... Foley’s treatment of the court’s legal issues is informed and direct.”—New York Times Book Review

“When can massive and systematic violations of human rights within one state justify a foreign intervention? Today, few questions are more pressing. With this vital and necessary book Conor Foley outlines an important agenda for change.”—Philippe Sands QC, author of Lawless World and Torture Team

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844672899
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 10/17/2008
  • Pages: 266
  • Product dimensions: 8.52 (w) x 5.52 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
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Table of Contents


Introduction 1
1 Human Rights and Humanitarians 21
2 Humanitarian Interventions 44
3 Kosovo 68
4 Afghanistan 94
5 Sri Lanka and Indonesia 120
6 A Responsibility to Protect 145
7 Justice and Peace 171
8 Humanitarian Accountability 196 Conclusion: The New Imperialists? 219 Notes 239 Index 259
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