Prime In the Shadow of Just Wars: Violence, Politics and Humanitarian Action By Médecins Sans Frontières – Carcier.co

This is a collection of essays written by MSF staff, each covering a different conflict, its associated humanitarian crisis, and the humanitarian response There were two ways in which I found it fascinating 1 As a source of news contemporary history, it describes the stories that really matter and focuses on the aspects of them that matter e.g the conflict in the DRC has been the deadliest war since WW2, but newspaper coverage of it has been abysmal not only is it incredibly scant, but it This is a collection of essays written by MSF staff, each covering a different conflict, its associated humanitarian crisis, and the humanitarian response There were two ways in which I found it fascinating 1 As a source of news contemporary history, it describes the stories that really matter and focuses on the aspects of them that matter e.g the conflict in the DRC has been the deadliest war since WW2, but newspaper coverage of it has been abysmal not only is it incredibly scant, but it s also written by people who have no idea how many people are dying, or why For example, lots of media attention goes to civilians killed by soldiers deliberately or accidentally, but little to the war related diseases that kill manypeople.2 It speaks critically of various humanitarian aid programs, so that once you put together the chapters it adds up to a pretty systematic discussion of how aid can go wrong.This last was what I found particularly interesting If there was a theme to it, it was that aid was often given by those who either didn t care about humanitarian outcomes or were too naive to think hard about outcomes, and that the results were often horrible One of the most egregious examples was the US WHO food aid to southern Sudan, which served to prolong a civil war that killed millions This was done, argues the book, not by mistake but as part of a deliberate cold war containment strategy that sought to weaken but not overthrow the government in Khartoum.The bottom line is that these are the foreign policy decisions that really matter to the world and this book provides a clarity and an angle I haven t found anywhere else I can t recommend it highly enough During the planning stages of military intervention in Iraq, humanitarian organizations were offered US government funds to join the Coalition and operate under the umbrella of Operation Iraqi Freedom Nongovernmental organizations had previously been asked to join in just wars in Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan, wars initiated by Western powers against oppressive regimes or armed groups Many aid organizations cooperated eagerlyFew Afghans regret the eclipse of the Taliban, or Sierra Leoneans the stabilization of their country after British military intervention inHowever, the incidental victims of these triumphs, those on the wrong side, are soon forgotten Humanitarian organizations are duty bound to save these people, although in so doing they must remain independent of the warring parties and not support the struggle against evil or any other political agendaThen there are places where the pretense of providing assistance allows donor governments to disguise their support for local political powers Millions in North Korea, Angola, and Sudan have starved to death because of the diversion and unequal distribution of huge quantities of food aid There are also those whose sacrifice is politically irrelevant in the wider picture of international relations the victims of brutal wars in Algeria, Chechnya, and Liberia, for instance, where what little international aid is available is subsumed by the adversaries desire to wage total war, to exterminate entire populationsIn this book, international experts and members of M decins Sans Fronti res analyze the way these issues have crystallized over the five years spanning the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty first They make the case for a renewed commitment to an old ideal a humanitarianism that defies a politics of expendable lives Patrick LaRochelle, Virginia Quarterly Review, vol , no , Winter Very interesting Case studies at the beginning were a little redundant, but the analysis usually was thought provoking The last section of essays was excellent, especially the final essay of the book.