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We Did Nothing: Why the truth doesn't always come out when the UN goes in [Paperback]

Linda Polman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2004

Linda Polman's We Did Nothing: Why the truth doesn't always come out with the UN goes in is an eye-opening account of peace-keeping operations across the globe.

In recent years our newspapers and televisions have brought us stories of the failure of the UN to keep the peace in the modern world. How often have our journalists, our politicians and charity workers turned around and accused the UN of weakness in the face of violence? During the 1990s Polman visited UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda to try to understand how resolutions are made and how the peace is lost. The result is this extraordinary, disturbing and utterly compelling book.

We Did Nothing shows what the resolutions mean for the people who must live in these battle fields, and for the UN soldiers who are sent to bring order to the terrifying chaos.

'A small classic of man's inhumanity to man' Sunday Telegraph

'One of the most affecting pieces of writing about man's inhumanity this side of Primo Levi' Guardian

'What Michael Herr's Dispatches was to war in the era of Vietnam, this is to the peace keeping era of the nineties' Evening Standard

Linda Polman has been a freelance journalist for Dutch radio, television and newspapers. Since the publication of her book in Holland Polman has lectured to government, military and academic audiences throughout the region. She currently lives in Sierra Leone.



Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (5 Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141012900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141012902
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

'One of the most affecting pieces of writing about man's inhumanity this side of Primo Levi' -- Guardian

‘A small classic of man's inhumanity to man' -- Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Linda Polman has been a freelance journalist for Dutch radio, television and newspapers. Since the publication of her book in Holland Polman has lectured to government, military and academic audiences throughout the region. She currently lives in Sierra Leone and is at work on her next book.


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book is not recommended reading. That is, not if you wish to emerge with your innocence intact.
Linda Polman is a Dutch journalist who covered all the global trouble-spots in the Nineties. In 'We Did Nothing' she reveals what actually happens when the UN is charged with tidying up unfinished wars without any real power or authority, and how truth gets manipulated to cover the savagery and horror that actually goes on. Polman’s text is punctuated by newspaper cuttings, offered without comment, reporting the same events she experienced on the ground in the worlds’ number-one misery locations. The contrast is alarming.
Her principal aim is too show how the UN is bound to fail: it has neither will nor teeth of its own, being directed by the interests of the most powerful member-states which comprise it, and who routinely withhold their subscriptions. Recently, its impossible role has been to sort out the mess after the mass-psychosis in Rwanda and whenever the triumphant US army scored another TV war victory. In the aftermath, the only nations willing to maintain troops anywhere near the ‘post‘-conflict zones are those who need the pay - like Bangladesh and Zambia - for supplying their own ill-equipped ‘blue-helmets’. A similar backdrop could currently apply to the UN in Iraq, should they get the job.
In Somalia, Rwanda and Haiti, Polman visits these troops and their supply lines at work, frequently risking her life and witnessing horrors that will doubtless effect her forever. Her account is likely to break (or possibly confirm) your assumptions on the benefits of ‘democracy’. It reveals that military might, in partnership with private supply and rebuild companies, is the force which penetrates the third world and leaves it reeling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Facts scarier than fiction 21 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very well written account of some of some of the most horrific events in war conflicts ,that have taken place recently .All taken place while members of UN peace forces can only look on helplessly . An insightful read .
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time to lose the blinkers! 13 May 2003
Format:Paperback
This book is a must for all of us out there who still sleep fairly soundly at night, thinking that if there's war on our planet, there's always the UN to help.
Linda Polman's observations have shattered our complacency, but not the ideal of the UN. The question is, how can we put right what we allow to go so dreadfully wrong? How can we lift the shame of what should be our greatest achievements?
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impotence exposed! 11 Jan 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book exposes the sheer impotence of the UN and the dark and bloody consequences of its confused identity. This book is a good read as an insight into the really nasty and grey world of international peacekeeping. Read the whole book from the start through to the end.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How The U.N. blunders blithely on. 1 Oct 2006
By russell clarke TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Internally displaced persons ( Or I.D.P,s) is the U.N/ given name for refugees/victims fleeing from war and genocide. It is politically correct ( The U.N. is very politically correct) jargon and helps to mask the greater truths behind the rather antiseptic words themselves , and as such is a perfect encapsulation of their mandates(s)

This book boils down to three separate accounts of I.D.P,s( Though the account of Haiti is less about displacement than how conflict affects a trapped indigenous people) and how they were handled by the U.N. and was written by Dutch freelance journalist Linda Polman ( one of the accounts written about Kibeho in Rwanda was originally published in "Granta" magazine) who spent time with the U.N. forces on three missions in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda .

The three accounts reveal an organisation emasculated by the fact that the five key members -The U.S., U.K, Russia, France, and China- have the right of veto over any decisions made in the Security Council and invariably make those decisions in their own, rather than the country they are supposedly trying to help, favour. In effect if they don't want to do something they don't, leaving it up to poorer less powerful member states. More pertinently when they blather on about having a U.N. mandate what they are really saying is we acted in our own best interests.

Most appallingly the U. N, s strict code of non-intervention is revealed for the impotent shambles it really is. Polman witnesses thousands of innocent civilians slaughtered under the noses of the frustrated U.N. troops (As happened in Sebrenica and Kibeho) who can do nothing but observe.

These three accounts show the full incapacity of U.N.
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