A recent BBC documentary tackled the question “does humanitarian aid sometimes do more harm than good?” but missed an important opportunity by failing to ask whether we expect too much of aid in the first place.
The Civil War in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009. To date there have been no international prosecutions for the crimes that occurred. That is the gravest failure highlighted by recent disclosures.
The only thing that is precise about drone strikes is the machine that delivers them. We should be realistic about how much we can programme imprecision out of our lives – and more modest about the true nature of precision strikes.
One can see why some would argue that the Annan plan has failed. However, it is important to retain a realistic perspective about how much a third-party mediator can hope to achieve given the circumstances.
Less coercive forms of intervention have been relatively neglected by politicians and academics. The case of Syria clearly demonstrates the pitfalls of this approach.