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Deliver Us from Evil:
Foreign-affairs journalist William Shawcross travels around the world--Bosnia, Baghdad, and elsewhere--to paint a messy portrait of the post-cold-war world. Deliver Us from Evil is very much an on-the-ground book, full of reportage and descriptions of world leaders such as UN chief Kofi Annan. It includes a strong point of view: the dewy-eyed, do-gooder mentality that drives so much contemporary international relations is, as far as Shawcross is concerned, deeply wrongheaded. Peacekeeping missions often find that there's no peace to keep, and expectations of what they can accomplish soar far too high. "Today 'humanitarianism' often rules. It becomes a sop to international concern, and then it can be dangerous," writes Shawcross. Coupled with a world of instant media, where CNN broadcasts live from the killing fields, humanitarianism fuels a strong desire to have immediate reconciliation between warring factions. But it's a delusional goal, says Shawcross, pointing to the American Civil War and how long (even after Appomattox) it took North and South to reconcile fully. There's no reason to think other torn nations will respond more quickly. Peacekeeping missions often promise a heaven on earth they cannot deliver. "In a more religious time it was only God whom we asked to deliver us from evil," concludes Shawcross. "Now we call upon our own man-made institutions for such deliverance. That is sometimes to ask for miracles." --John J. Miller [via]