In A Bed for the Night1, David Rieff2 explains his frustration at the lim- itations and Rieff frequently gives in to his penchant for extreme positions. He dis-. A Bed for the Night has ratings and 36 reviews. Alisa said: Ok, so I did not give this book four stars because I thought it was much fun to read. Had. David Rieff’s A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis is an emotionally raw and deeply personal argument that humanitarian organizations must be free.

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They are not wrong.


He who lives by the image, dies by the image. If you can force yourself past the introduction first 30 pagesthen the book is an excellent look at humanitarianism through the early ’00s.

Bosnia and the Failure of the West. Even in the best newspapers, such stories are usually buried somewhere in the inner pages. After all, the facile observation that humanitarian assistance is a futile enterprise whose shortcomings can be tragic and fatal for those it purports to save is certainly not new.

Get a FREE e-book by joining our mailing list today! Get a FREE e-book by joining our mailing list today! Complicates the received wisdom of humanitarianism. I like the four case studies Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Afghanistan because they show the evolution of his point through example. Ok, so I did not give this book four stars because I thought it was much fun to read.

“A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis” by David Rieff

What happened later in the refugee camps was more problematic. Still, a book worth thinking about, I think. Understandably, many people today find analogies to World War II and the fight against Nazism morally invidious.

Apr 21, Noel rated it liked it.

But Rieff’s curmudgeonly book makes some well-considered points that “doing good” doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The American decision to bomb the Bosnian Serbs in was due at least in part to the threat by the British and French to withdraw their UN peacekeeping forces — a move that would have obliged the United States, as their NATO partner, to deploy troops to cover their retreat.


And unless it is your own country that is doing the shelling and the sniping, or perhaps offering the protection, or, as in the case of the United States in Afghanistan, a bit of both, how is it possible to remember and how is it possible to understand in any meaningful way?

And such a loss would have been seen as a relatively small one at that, nighh not by American then by Western European standards.

A Bed for the Night

Things only got worse once they crossed into bev Congo and settled into vast refugee camps hastily set up by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

It is just that: But even taken at face value, it made sense only as long as there were no casualties, as Clinton himself would later demonstrate, first by claiming he had never been properly briefed about rieff military operation to seize Aidid and then by deciding in the aftermath of the debacle to negotiate with Aidid and withdraw U.

In the film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, the angry young hero reproaches his immigrant father for not being more politically militant. This has been the policy of Doctors Without Borders in the past, and there are legitimate reasons for it. Still, while Moynier, writing at the high-water mark of European optimism, could not have imagined that the twentieth century nigbt become the era of total war, his para-McLuhanite intuition was nonetheless not wrong.

Books of the Bex. For every Rwanda that is covered, a dozen other unspeakable catastrophes never find their journalistic chroniclers, or, if they do, they get covered perhaps once or twice in the course of a year.

View all 4 comments. Morally, Stalingrad was a zero-sum game, and the defeat of the Germans, even if it meant their atrocious suffering, was a moral imperative.


There is horror, but no context, and therefore as much mystification dqvid information results from this new way of accessing the world’s tragedies.

It is easy to discern the limitations of the way television imparts information. A bed for the night: Is that really so little? And in Asia, which had been at war for a decade, the fate of European Jewry would have been a tangential concern, just as the fate of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese murdered by Japanese forces in Nanking in was of no great concern to the American or Western European public.

Modern humanitarianism is ultimately Rieff has called himself an “unconstructive critic” of humanitarianism. And history is never the fairy tale of innocent victims, oppressive gunmen, and caring outsiders that the humanitarian narrative so often presents.

Jul 15, Beth Oppenheim rated it really liked it. Oct 24, Anna rated it liked it Shelves: Rieff and I do not agree on everything, but I really appreciate his well-argued tone, and the reality that he brings to the text.

Americans wanted no part of war; they had thought their troops were xavid to do good.

The intervention in Somalia appears to have won the support of the then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, in part because he bitterly opposed American intervention in Bosnia and understood that a humanitarian deployment in Somalia would make any U.

Above all, think, if you can bear to, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the ideas aren’t interesting enough to compel me to continue reading this book, which is full of jargon and poorly-written prose. Even if their perception may be a bit skewed and their methods less than admirable.