Cover image for In the shadow of 'just wars' : violence, politics, and humanitarian action
In the shadow of 'just wars' : violence, politics, and humanitarian action
Weissman, Fabrice, 1969-
Uniform Title:
A l'ombre des guerres justes. English.
Publication Information:
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 372 pages : maps ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV639 .A2513 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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During the planning stages of military intervention in Iraq, humanitarian organizations were offered 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.Few Afghans regret the eclipse of the Taliban, or Sierra Leoneans the stabilization of their country after British military intervention in 2000. However, 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 agenda. Then 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 populations.In this book, international experts and members of Medecins Sans Frontieres 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."

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Medecins sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for its medical relief work. These essays, by MSF participants and by regional specialists, offer an overview of 13 conflicts in which the organization has provided relief. Each chapter provides background on the conflict, approximate numbers of refugees or internally displaced persons needing care, and attempts to provide relief. Four theoretical essays attempt to provide a framework for the others. Most of the authors are strongly critical of UN humanitarian relief efforts, because the UN staff often casually accepts the word of local authorities that relief is truly reaching the needy claims that medical works, often MSF teams, tend to doubt. Unfortunately, this collection as a whole is disappointing; none of the contributors really addresses questions of "just war." Readers who want a nuanced discussion of humanitarian issues should try David Kennedy's recent The Dark Sides of Virtue; a similar collection of essay on medical relief is Humanitarian Crises: the Medical and Public Health Response. Only for specialized collections. Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.