The United States, Britain, Europe and the War in Iraq
'William Shawcross is one of a handful of European intellectuals who have bravely resisted the Gadarene rush to condemn Bush and Blair for liberating a country accurately described as 'a prison above ground and a mass grave beneath it. Shawcross's well-informed, lucid account of events leading up to (and beyond) the war explains why Bush and Blair were prepared to take such enormous risks, not just with their political careers, but with the lives of twentysomething farm boys from the Carolinas or motor mechanics from Middlesbrough. Shawcross's brilliant account of high-level diplomacy is unsparingly damning of the slippery Chirac and Schroeder. Let's hope that Shawcross is right in believing that the coalition leaders have the will to stay that particular course. If they don't, we will all bear the terrible consequences.'
Michael Burleigh, Sunday Times (London), 14 December 2003
'William Shawcross's Allies is a work of courage and clarity, a plainly, sometimes plaintively, argued piece of common sense that brings the debate back to the ground on which it too rarely stands Shawcross should be attended to not least because he has argued himself into his present position from one who was opposed: his Sideshow was an indictment of the US bombing of Cambodia. But in three decades of international reporting, including extensive writing on the UN, he has come to share the once-common, now reviled, belief that American commitment and American sacrifice are essential to the world... We live in genuinely strange and disappointing times, when the majority party of the left [Labour] has truned on a leader who has been the leading proponent of the overthrow of tyrannies. Shawcross is an antidote to these out-of-joint times: he may make a large contribution to setting them right.'
John Lloyd, Herald (Glasgow), 20 December 2003
'William Shawcross's Allies is expanded and updated from his Harkness Lecture in the spring, a lucid and judicious analysis of the ways in which the challenge posed by Iraq was unlike anything previously faced by the postwar Western consensus. Shawcross gives a useful account of the development of neo-conservative thought, providing a useful corrective to some of the more absurd travesties that have hindered helpful debate.'
Ian Macintyre, The Times (London), 10 January 2003
'Allies is an articulate, informed presentation of the core relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair that has had such an impact on British politics Allies has its real value in its lucid and hugely readable understanding of the Bush/Blair outlook.'
Paul Rogers, Independent, 22 December 2003
'Allies is an account of the Iraqi crisis, its causes and consequences. Writing in persuasive prose and relying mostly on material from the media, Shawcross lets the record speak for itself... With cogency and passion, Allies makes the case that this [anti-American] kind of prejudice is disgraceful in itself – a negation of reality and a potential threat to the west and to the whole world order.'
David Pryce-Jones, Sunday Telegraph, 14 December 2003
'There is something sad about this book. William Shawcross made his name with one of the greatest pieces of journalism, Sideshow, about the destruction of Cambodia by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. He has written some of the most committed writing on the revolutions that toppled communism in Eastern Europe. One does not have to follow Shawcross's trajectory from the Left to the neoconservative Right to admire his moral tenacity.. I am pretty sure I loathe Saddam more than Shawcross does, having had the accursed honour of seeing so much of his butchery at first hand. But this is how Shawcross's book becomes useful, and challenging. Along with his neocon politics, Shawcross's eagerness for invasion is also rooted in the most compelling section of the book, where he discusses betrayal of the persecuted in Bosnia and Rwanda by international design, Europe's didactic negligence, and what Shawcross calls the 'complicity' of the UN. This is the moment after which Blair led the Americans into Kosovo, calling it 'the first progressive war'. I think it is incumbent on those of us who agree with Shawcroon Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo, but who dissent on Iraq, to concede that we have a case to answer. The argument will develop as America's intentions in Iraq play out.'
Ed Vulliamy, in The Observer, 28 December 2003.
'It all seemed so simple. Either you were for the invasion of Iraq or against it; either you believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or you didn't; either you thought Saddam was too dangerous to trust or you didn't; either you thought George Bush was right or that he was a hypocritical, bullying, imperialist oil-grabber. William Shawcross, like The Economist, was in the former of all those categories and is unrepentant about it. The point of this short, polemical book is to explain why. In also telling the story of the build-up to war, though, it shows how the issues weren't simple at all. Which is one big reason why the war took place.'
The Economist, 30 January 2004
'Shawcross's book is a passionate polemic in defence of the decision to go to war, written with the verve and vigour of one would expect from this author. Shawcross's two chief villains are President Jaques Chirac of France and the British chattering classes. Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder of Germany and, even more so, President Vladimir Putin of Russia get off more lightly. This allocation of responsibility is probably well justified, even before the misguided showmanship of France's foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin made it unavoidable. As to the chattering classes, Shawcross demonstrates the extent to which their opposition was fuelled not only by strongly held positions of principle but, in many instances, also by visceral anti-Americanism.'
David Hannay, TLS, 13 February 2004
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