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Over recent years, the relationship between humanitarians and the military has become especially controversial. Concerns over inefficient and duplicated assistance programs and the compromised security of relief workers have been regularly highlighted. Many point to ongoing tensions and polarized positions that seem to leave NGOs a stark choice between “neutrality” and co-option. Using Afghanistan as a case study, this book analyses this apparent duality. It puts forward five basic arguments. First, the history of the relationship extends prior to the birth of modern humanitarianism. Second, inter-organizational friction is common between groups and it does not always have a detrimental impact. Third, working with the military does not necessarily create more dangerous situations for NGOs. Fourth, humanitarian principles are not a fixed set of propositions, but evolve according to temporal and situational context. Finally, humanitarians are generally not co-opted, but rather willingly take part in political-military endeavors. In all, it is suggested that NGOs tend to change their policies and actions depending on the context. The book thus transcends the simple “for” or “against” arguments, leading to a more refined understanding of the relationship between NGOs and the military.

A historiography

Introduction Since the first recorded battle in history, distinctions have existed between those who fight and those who deal with the consequences of fighting ( Cioffi-Revilla 1991 , Hallett 1998 , Morgan 2005 ) and remain one of the most important aspects of the laws of war ( Crowe 2014 ). Yet, these spheres –humanitarian and military – have never been

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan

Introduction Following the introduction in Chapter 1 in which the basic assumptions associated with the military–humanitarian relationship were presented, the history of the relationship was examined in Chapter 2 . In Chapter 3 , three issues were revealed that influence the military–humanitarian relationship. These were the tension between

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan

Introduction Afghanistan’s experiences with war and resistance, development and crisis, ideology and big-power politics have had powerful influences and serve as a backdrop to the military–humanitarian relationship. The country’s history has been well covered elsewhere and the features of it political history are summarized in Table 4

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan
A child of the Kosovo crisis?

One of the most frequently cited ‘lessons’ of the Kosovo crisis has been the alleged extent to which it spurred West European leaders to address a perceived need for Europe to do more for its own military security. Member states of the European Union decided to establish a ‘European Security and Defence Policy’ (ESDP) in the months following Operation Allied Force . Daalder and O’Hanlon have written

in The Kosovo crisis and the evolution of post-Cold War European security
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Overview of conflict and assistance from 2001 to 2014

Introduction This book thus far has introduced the military–humanitarian relationship and argued that the key question of whether an NGO should have close or distant relations with Western militaries is predicated on five basic assumptions – historical context, inter-organizational friction, insecurity, principled positions and co-option and

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan
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Introduction The military–humanitarian relationship has received increased attention in recent years. The complex emergencies of the early 1990s led to the growth of humanitarian action, but this has occurred in a “policy vacuum” ( Roberts 1996 , p. 9) where many unproven assumptions remain. Equally, the events

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan

Introduction Before looking at the military–humanitarian relationship in Afghanistan, it is helpful to first examine the key controversies and tensions present in such a dynamic topic. Analysis reveals an evolution of thought and practices that has led to the development of a host of key issues. Identifying these issues provides the basis for the

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan

, such technologies are tools that can either serve an ethical obligation that the military institution has towards its members or potentially increase the morality of warfare. However, as it is often said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and these considerations are not sufficient to assess the rightness of the use of these technologies, as it is also essential to understand their potential flaws from an

in A theory of the super soldier
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MSF has worked extremely hard to maintain its independence and distance from the coalition forces and has been repeatedly critical of their attempts to link military objectives with the provision of “humanitarian” assistance. Through these accusations, we are vulnerable to further attack … On the way to the airport we pass

in The humanitarian-military complex in Afghanistan