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At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention First Edition Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0684808673
ISBN-10: 0684808676
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Democracy in Decline? (A Journal of Democracy Book) by
Democracy Studies
This short collection of essays is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the latest thinking on one of the most critical questions of our era. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Rieff, author of A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis (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 © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684808676
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684808673
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,064,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By D. Shane Hanson on October 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Rieff talks about many bad places. He talks about Rawanda and Bosnia. He eludes to the real truth of the matter but won't go the extra mile and say the obvious. He explains France's involement with Rawanda and how they facilitated the slaughter because of financial interests, and yet the US and UN did little to stop it. He talks about Bosnia and the anomosity between muslim and non-muslim and the NATO and NGO reactions. What Rieff seems to be approaching is a realization that some circumstances simply don't have compromises.

He talks about the increasing use of the word genocide and how it has become diluted. What he does point out is that the UN is just not up to the job. He just doesn't seem to want to say why. He talks around the answer as much as he can. I gather from these writings that the answer goes against his beliefs and dogma. He then goes on to comment about the many great leaders of Africa, even if they are just a little corrupt. He explains that the aid given to Africa was enough for them to get into trouble, but not enough to have real reforms. Rieff explains that the debt is what keeps Africa down, not the corruption. He argues against Globalization. Essentially blaming the globalization and capitalism for the failure of Africa. He just doesn't back it up with his writing.

He carps about the failures of the UN and the international community but has no real answers to help. If you want to hear someone rant about the failures, then attempt to turn those failures into failures of the US, read this book. I will say that it does contain some indepth information about the conflict in Rawanda. It just lacks understanding of humans or economics.
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Format: Hardcover
Well written critic for all progressives/thinkers or anyone concerned about the use of force to achieve democratic "peace"
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