David Zetland ponders the core argument of The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?:

The central thesis of this book ... is that the people who deliver aid are addicted to horror stories and starving kids, and this addiction is fed by those who benefit from aid, whether they be local leaders, militias committing atrocities or even victims who don’t wear their prosthetic legs because they can get more attention with their stumps.

... Here’s the simple version: If people give you money because of A, then you don’t do anything to stop A. Even better, make A bigger so you get more money.

... What’s interesting in Polman’s book is the way that ... warlords and crooked politicians are actively making poor people worse off, to raise their profile and increase the flow of “do something!” money funneled through the Angelina-Bono-Geldof-Sachs pipeline.

Sounds like civil rights groups in Washington as well. Give us equality - but keep giving us money to fight for equality as well. Funny how equality never quite happens, innit? And the groups keep going and going and going ...

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.