One of the loveliest elements of having so many friends working on international issues is puzzling over the odd bits of the world in which we’re cathected, and tracing the ways in which we became so (an assignment, a particular story, a particular problem, a plane ticket purchased on a whim…). Those, for me, have been the conflagratory slices – Gaza + AfPak + Yemen (1 2 3 4) – for no good reason other than that I find the combination of dire humanitarian need and conflict-based constraints intellectually challenging.
Paul Collier, in opening The Bottom Billion, puts this aptly and succinctly:
“Traditionally, development has been assigned to aid agencies, which are low in almost every government’s pecking order. The U.S. Department of Defense is not going to take advice from that country’s Agency for International Development.”*