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The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War
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The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  69 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published October 17th 2008 by Verso (first published September 1st 2008)
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Sep 29, 2010 Allie rated it did not like it
I'm not sure what this book was trying to say. It took a long time to go nowhere, and left me staring at it, dumbfounded. Perhaps it's my fault for waiting until the last sentence of the last page to give up on expecting to be enlightened. Or challenged, informed, entertained .. or .. something.

'The Thin Blue Line' is essentailly split into an introduction, a 'case study' type section with chapters on a number of countries, and what I expected to be a discussion and conclusion. Unfortunately, th
Sep 18, 2012 Vikram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, detailed, comprehensive account of the humanitarian and human rights industries and their failings (and successes) around the world. He writes convincingly and comprehensively about the problems of aid since the 80s, with the neutrality of NGOs dissolving into campaigning and collaboration with (mostly) Western governments. He discusses corruption and the rights and wrongs of witholding aid, aid dependency, the pressures from supporters and Western governments, the inadequacies and ...more
how the doctrine of humanitarian intervention provides cover for wars of aggression
Feb 01, 2009 Sara-Maria rated it it was ok
Shelves: yeayeahelpin
The main problem in this convoluted account, as I see it, is this: foley does not seem to have learned the (often) liberating lesson of dialectics. To him the relationship between humanitarianism and military intervention is like that of two great ships toting different goods, which while passing in the dark waters of even darker continents accidentally collide. awesome blasts of fire damage up close and inspire exultations from afar. Metal momentarily fuses until a rescue crew wrenches the ...more
Sep 30, 2010 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, human-rights
Conor Foley calls the roll of genocide, ethnic cleansing, rape as a political/military weapon, mass murder and other horrors of the past couple of decades including a few natural as opposed to man made disasters. He has been at the aftermath of many of them: Somalia (civil and religious war); Kosovo (ethnic cleansing); Sri Lanka (civil war); Indonesia (tsunami); Sudan (ethnic cleansing, civil war); the Kurdish areas of Iraq and Turkey (state sponsored mass killing). Looming over everything is ...more
Apr 12, 2011 Tinea rated it it was ok
This book was kind of a confusing mess. In some ways, the jumbled nature of Foley's discussion reflected the problems he was writing about. International law tries to apply universal principles to very context-driven situations. Humanitarian aid brings a one-size-fits-all, short-term relief package to all the narrow and radically different crises around the world. How can Foley explain what went wrong with the humanitarian interventions in Somalia, Kosovo, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Iraq ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
this was the second time Ihad read this book (which was first published in 2008) so I went through it quite quickly. I wanted really to see if it was worth keeping as a source and reference book, and it is. He is extremely knowledgeable, both first-hand and from what has been written, on humanitarianism. He tries to draw the conclusion that humanitarian interventionism is bad (which is why I was not sure the book would be worth retaining) but he does not succeed, despite very creditable efforts. ...more
Pam Rasmussen
Jul 14, 2009 Pam Rasmussen rated it liked it
Do good intentions always help the intended beneficiary? And our motives always pure? Those are two of the questions tackled by Foley. The final paragraph of the book sort of sums it up: "(Aid workers) might help individual people in a crisis zone, but they can never be absolutely certain that the overall impact of their presence does more good than harm. While their presence pricks the world's conscience that 'something must be done,' it simultaneously reinforces the delusion that humanitarian ...more
Foley analyses the history of humanitarian intervention in its most recent phase, and the change from humanitarianism to human rights organizations. He addresses the risks of advocacy for humanitarian organizations. Specifically focusses on Afghanistan and Kosovo. His argument is fairly unclear; apart from the fact that both humanitarianism and human rights advocacy are risky and may contribute to the problems that they are seeking to address.
Mom - Joanne
May 23, 2009 Mom - Joanne rated it it was ok
The author has experience but I am not sure what he is trying to tell us.

I wish he knew how to write clearly...he may have a point but it is buried in too many facts about too many things followed by a personal account. It made me dizzy.

Dec 04, 2009 Peter rated it really liked it
Interesting. Case studies about humanitarian aid demonstrate the difficulty of unintended consequences and how difficult it is to give assistance without the negative impact of our cultural biases.
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