In the Shadow of "Just Wars": Violence, Politics, and Humanitarian Action

TitleIn the Shadow of "Just Wars": Violence, Politics, and Humanitarian Action
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsWeissman, Fabrice
Number of Pages400
PublisherCornell University Press
CityIthaca, NY

During the planning stages of military intervention in Iraq, humanitarian organizations were offered by the U.S. 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 eagerly. 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 agenda. Then there are places where the pretense of providing assistance allows donor governments to disguise their support for local political powers. There are also those whose sacrifice is politically irrelevant in the wider picture of international relations. In this book, international experts and members of Médecins Sans Frontières 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.

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