In recent years, the foreign aid industry has undergone an important shift. Whereas development workers until the late 1980s were mainly perceived — and often perceived themselves — as a rare species of internationalist idealists, the emergence of ‘failed and fragile states’, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, and ‘new wars’ in the Balkans and elsewhere contributed to the blurring of lines between the ‘neat’ world of development and the ‘murky’ field of national and international security. Although governments used development assistance throughout the Cold War to further their own interests in the context of superpower rivalry, aid workers generally agreed that these were regrettable circumstances. The end of the Cold War nurtured hopes that foreign aid would finally be free to focus solely on fighting poverty and inequality.
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