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The British government has increasingly assumed the role of international arbiter and peacekeeper, both with and without a UN mandate. The hijacking of the moral high ground and recurrent assertion of global consensus – even in the presence of overwhelming opposition – reveals a disregard for the integrity of cultural diversity and opinion. Often `humanitarian’ concerns have been used to justify military intervention, and the promise of aid is used to deflect dissent. Based on her experiences as an aid worker in post-conflict Kosovo, the author makes two central points. First, that the social, cultural, and institutional chaos precipitated by conflict is highly predictable and constitutes a powerful argument against military solutions. Second, that aid is not a universal panacea. It is a last resort and often, even with the best intentions, done badly. It should never be used to mask political imperatives.

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