Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Democracy and human rights have become the rallying cry for American military adventures-or, to critics, an excuse for a new imperialism. New York Times Magazine regular Rieff, author of A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis (and the son of the late Susan Sontag), was once a partisan of humanitarian military intervention; these essays, written and published in the years after Bosnia, chart his disillusionment. Rieff analyzes the doctrine of interventionism from its origins in the human rights movement and outrage over the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides, to its reluctant deployment by the Clinton administration in Kosovo and its embrace by Bush administration neocons. From the guarded "yes" of his early "A New Age of Liberal Imperialism?" Rieff's misgivings grow as he ponders what he sees as the cynicism of Western powers, the appalling ease with which victims become postintervention victimizers and, especially in Iraq, the failure of military intervention to deliver on its promises. Chastened, Rieff rejects both the grandiose projects of Pentagon planners and the isolationism of the Chomskyite left; he allows that intervention may be necessary, but only as an exceptional last resort. Mixing reportage and gloomy reflection, Rieff views history as unending tragedy-he titles one piece "In Defense of Afro-Pessimism," and the book's last words are "the future seems very bleak... and growing bleaker by the day." But his aversion to easy answers makes this a timely, probing response to contemporary geopolitics. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Rieff, author of A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis 0 (2002), explores the complexity of international relationships as the West struggles with ideals of human rights intervention and the geopolitics that lead to war. This collection includes essays Rieff has previously written on fumbled efforts to promote human rights and his latest reflections as the war in Iraq and other conflicts have changed the dynamics of human rights intervention. The contentious relationship between the U.S and the UN figures prominently in essays that explore how each goes about its occasionally separate and joint efforts to promote peace or justice in places as varied as Rwanda and Iraq. Rieff examines the role the UN has played in humanitarian campaigns, its evolution as a world political body, and debates about its dissolution, and perception as a servant to U.S. foreign policy. This thoughtful--and troubling--collection will appeal to readers interested in the nuances of foreign policy. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2005 Booklist


Library Journal
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Journalist Rieff (A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis) has been a nuanced analyst of world affairs. In this current book, however, consisting of his collected articles, he seems to despair. The earlier pieces show that he was largely supportive of American and UN limited armed intervention in Kosovo and Africa, but his later pieces question his own endorsement of American military force against the backdrop of the American experience in the Iraq war. Quoting John Quincy Adams's warning that American attempts to impose democracy in foreign lands "would insensibly change from liberty to force," he questions the wisdom of American intervention because he has seen American "altruism" turned into "barbarism" in Iraq. Though no supporter of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror in Iraq and opposed to the isolationism of both the Right (Buchanan) and the Left (Chomsky), he believes that the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department did not prepare adequately for the realities on the ground in Iraq and have made things worse. Now viewing the genocide in the Sudan and the increasing dangers of rogue states, Rieff has little to offer except a vague notion of international diplomacy. A thought-provoking, very personal analysis-this former interventionist has become almost fatalistic-this book is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Does armed intervention in support of human rights work? Writing from the battleground, noted journalist/author Rieff says no. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.