From Publishers Weekly
British aid worker Foley paints a bleak portrait of humanitarian intervention in this book that exorcises his failed missions during a career with such organizations as Amnesty International and the UNHCR. He revisits his time in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Indonesia, enumerating the knotty ethical dilemmas inherent in offering humanitarian aid (i.e., the blurring boundary between "development and humanitarian action" or the challenges of maintaining political neutrality while providing aid). Foley doesn't dissect these dilemmas with enough clarity for a nonexpert reader to understand the pros and cons of modern interventionism. Moreover, Foley is too exasperated by a morass of "too little, too late" missions over the past 15 years to objectively analyze interventionism's touchy relationship to international law. He refrains from offering solutions and is content to point out thorny problems ranging from the use of force and usurpation of national sovereignty to cultural insensitivity. His bitterness suffuses the book, which ends on a hollow prescription: "the need to develop a rather different discourse on human rights interventionism, one which is more modest in recognizing its limitations, but more ambitious in recognizing what needs to be done." (Nov.)
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“This is a penetrating analysis of modern humanitarianism. Conor Foley brings all his own experience to bear as he punctures the myths and delusions that have coloured discussion of humanitarian action from Biafra to Kosovo to Iraq, Darfur and Afghanistan. He lays bare the complexities and dilemmas that are rarely examined and argues that the answer to the world’s woes is rarely military intervention. A stunning book!”—Helena Kennedy
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“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
“No one is more qualified than Conor Foley to raise questions about the good and the bad—mostly the bad—of humanitarian intervention. Foley has been there and done it as a humanitarian worker throughout his adult life, and he raises many disquieting questions as he uncovers the failures of even the most well-meant military interventions. Iraq ans Afghanistan loom large in this book, and the American travails there are dispassionately depicted in ways one rarely finds in mainstream media reporting.”—Seymour M. Hersh
“Drawing upon his personal experience from emergency operations across the world and legal scholarship, Conor Foley has written a strikingly original, wide-ranging and insightful critique of humanitarian action and military intervention.”—Alex De Waal