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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What does humanitarianism mean when you are helping people who are war criminals, who might take your succor and use it to massacre others as was the case in Rwanda? Had it also been fun to read I would have given it five stars no question. But the principle of what befell the Rwandans who had committed genocide is exactly the same.

David Rieff is an American polemicist and pundit. The group chose not to publicize its knowledge of the death camps. Rather, anyone who continues to hope that the world, for all its horrors, can be nught a better place through Ignatieff’s “revolution of moral concern” in the West must confront the following question: While I didn’t agree with the pessimism that existed throughout this book, I think it’s important for any “industry” to recognizes its flaws.

Nighy recommend this to anyone interested in humanitarianism as a concept, subject or practice. Nowhere is this more true than in the coverage of humanitarian crises, in large measure because no other story that gets any airtime or major newspaper attention at all is so dependably unfamiliar.

Our interests and theirs were complementary, or so we supposed: Humanitarian agencies should intentionally limit their mandates. Imagine, for example, that in a film crew had gone to film both ghe German soldiers at Stalingrad and the Russian defenders bbed the city. Daviid will note that the end of the books feels incredibly dated. He is very pessimistic about the future of humanitarianism, and predicts that it will continue to be co-opted by Western militaries keen to use aid in order to seek domestic gains as well as strategic advant David Rieff analyses the history of humanitarianism in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. He lives in New York City. A Bed for savid Night Trade Paperback Even in the best newspapers, such stories are usually buried somewhere in the inner pages.


Other editions – View all A Bed for the Night: It is a hope against hopelessness, but that hope is unfounded. Trivia About A Bed for the Nig Timely and controversial, A Bed for the Night reveals how humanitarian organizations trying to bring relief in an ever more violent rrieff dangerous world are often betrayed and misused, and have increasingly lost sight of their purpose.

Even when his point is drifting off, his verve stays high even if his readers’ eyes are glazing over. Even if their perception may be a bit skewed and their methods less than admirable.

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

One of the most important things that has happened over the course of the past fifty years is that the world has increasingly become divided into three parts. He describes how many humanitarian organizations have moved from their founding principle of neutrality, which gave them access to victims, to encouraging the international community to take action to stop civil wars and ethnic cleansing.

In practice, this means you are almost certainly a citizen of the United States, Canada, Japan, or one of the countries of the European Union. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. This is more a ‘history of’ than any kind of biographical account, and though he has been intimately involved in conflict and humanitarian relief, Rieff leaves out the personal stories and anecdotes.

That is not the way great powers act, and it is confusing dream with reality to imagine otherwise. But what is noteworthy about Johnston’s account is something that has become an integral part of the humanitarian repertory, even in crises where there is no question of military force being deployed.

Refresh and try again. May 13, Diego rated it it was amazing Shelves: 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. The miracle of our own time, a miracle that probably only the very old among us still fully appreciate, is that in Daviid Europe and North America such horrors appear to have become quite literally inconceivable.

They rarely have the time to track Burma and Burundi, Angola and Afghanistan before they explode.

As for the destruction of buildings, to our grandparents and great-grandparents, destruction was not the fall of two towers, however tragic, but the ruin of whole cities.

And such a loss would have been seen rieeff a relatively small one at that, if not by American then by Western European standards. Was it really safe to assume that none of these starving people had any politics, or that it was impossible to be, simultaneously, an Aidid supporter and a victim of the famine in Somalia?


To say this is hardly to underestimate the power of the press in affecting the response to humanitarian emergencies.


I think this book is a great contribution, so well researched, with a totally cogent discourse thf, but yet also delivered right from the front lines Because, like the father in that film, nibht are professional businessmen, or doctors, or laborers, or accountants, or housewives, not professional consumers of other people’s tragedies.

By calling for intervention — whether by the United Nations or by “coalitions of the willing” — humanitarian organizations risk being seen as taking sides in a conflict and thus jeopardizing their access to victims. Evil and suffering have indeed become entirely banal, and most people are like Rieff, who find the prospect of immediate bight absurd as long as there is no possibility of a long-term solution.

And given the fact that the other twenty-three crises and dozens more humanitarian emergencies went largely unattended, the truth of Johnston’s words — for better and for worse — is surely undeniable.

And the result was almost inevitable: Published October 7th by Simon Schuster first published October rleff There is a starving girl, unnamed; there are marauders, unidentified; and there are relief workers, also unspecified.

For the reliance verging on dependency on these tales of dwvid victims richly deserving of the help of aid workers and the money of the general public in the rich world was not simply a matter of money. How could he have made it real to people sitting in San Francisco or Houston? But how much of an advance? Aid workers have discovered that while trying to do good, their efforts may also cause harm.

And in any case, our television viewer is better than his or her prejudices. Johnston was successful in persuading the United Nations to take a more militarized approach to the crisis, and in getting the administration of George Bush senior to commit U.

It was hardly likely.