Linda Polman

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Linda Polman (born 1960 in Amstelveen) is a Dutch freelance journalist and author of three books on humanitarian aid and intervention: We Did Nothing, War Games, and The Crisis Caravan.


We Did Nothing[edit]

Polman's book We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Doesn't Always Come Out When the UN Goes in was first published in 1997 in Dutch and later published in English.[1][2]

Martin Woollacott reviewed the book along with the book A Problem from Hell by Samantha Power, for The Guardian. He concluded: "We have yet to work out properly how the post-twin towers interventions relate to those that went before. But there is obvious irony in the fact that while previously, as these books illustrate so clearly, determination was often lacking to deal with crises that most people agreed were serious, there was no shortage of it when the Bush administration moved to deal with a crisis on which there was no global consensus at all."[1] The book was also reviewed by Hugh O'Shaugnessy in The Observer alongside Never Learn to Type: A Woman at the United Nations.[3]

War Games[edit]

Polman's book War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times argued that humanitarian aid intervention often ended up fueling wars and making them worse. Her book cited the example of the Rwandan genocide, where humanitarian groups facilitated the flow of aid to Hutu militia who were involved with the killing, rather than the Tutsi who were genocide victims.[4] Her work was discussed in The Guardian.[5] The Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute issued a written response to the book.[6]

The Crisis Caravan[edit]

Polman's book The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?[7] was reviewed in The Economist,[8] Foreign Affairs,[9] and the Huffington Post.[10]

Media appearances[edit]

Linda Polman has appeared on The Daily Show to discuss her book, The Crisis Caravan.[11]


  1. ^ a b Woollacott, Martin (July 4, 2003). "Too little, too late. From Rwanda to the Balkans, the 90s was the decade of botched interventions. Martin Woollacott on two studies of the west's failure to confront genocide from Samantha Power and Linda Polman". Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  2. ^ Polman, Linda (February 5, 2004). We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Doesn't Always Come Out When the UN Goes in. ISBN 978-0141012902.
  3. ^ O'Shaugnessy, Hugh (July 19, 2003). "United it falls. The UN stands condemned twice over by memoirs from Margaret Joan Anstee and Linda Polman, says Hugh O'Shaugnessy". The Observer. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  4. ^ Polman, Linda (March 1, 2011). War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times. ISBN 978-0670919772.
  5. ^ Anthony, Andrew (April 24, 2010). "Does humanitarian aid prolong wars? Linda Polman believes the business of international aid - from Ethiopia to Rwanda to Afghanistan – is only helping gangsters and fighters, while innocent victims suffer on". The Guardian. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  6. ^ "Aid and war: a response to Linda Polman's critique of humanitarianism" (PDF). Overseas Development Institute. May 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  7. ^ Polman, Linda (August 30, 2011). The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?. Picador. ISBN 978-0312610586.
  8. ^ "Feeding the beast: What's wrong with emergency assistance?". The Economist. October 14, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Cooper, Richard N. (November–December 2010). "The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  10. ^ Hall, Peter Christian (October 11, 2010). "'The Crisis Caravan': Charity's Road to Hell?". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  11. ^ "Linda Polman". The Daily Show. September 29, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2014.

External links[edit]