383 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $22.95.
Reviewed by Colin Campbell
ANYONE who has followed the huge international aid operations that have been mounted in recent years in Ethiopia, Cambodia and other devastated countries must have noticed that these efforts keep running into technical and political obstacles, and that they raise other issues as well. Shipments of food and medicine always seem to arrive in such places too late. There aren't enough planes or trucks to deliver the stuff. Dozens of different aid agencies leap into the act, and it's only a matter of time before they start disagreeing passionately over just what the problem is and how to deal with it.
Fortunately, these emergencies have generated a few important case studies, and one can read about the all-too-human world of several big emergency aid operations in appalling detail. Now ''The Brutality of Nations'' by Dan Jacobs has appeared, dealing with the e…