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Allies: The U. S., Britain, Europe, And The War in Iraq Hardcover – January 6, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1ST edition (January 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482169
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,803,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

William Shawcross first came to prominence with Sideshow, a ringing condemnation of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon's actions in Cambodia. This time around, however, he heartily endorses the military actions of the American government as it invades Iraq and ousts the regime of Saddam Hussein. Preemptive war, says Shawcross, is not the anomalous tactic that some of George W. Bush's critics might suggest but rather a necessary strategy in dealing with dangerous despots. Shawcross treads lightly on the dispute over the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the unsettled landscape of post-Saddam Iraq while describing at length the human rights crimes committed by Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay to make the point that that the war was justified. Germany and France are cast here as unappreciative opportunists for their opposition to Bush. Chirac, in particular, is on the receiving end of much enmity by Shawcross who never misses a chance to cite nicknames like "Super Menteur" (Super Liar) or "The Crook" to describe the French president. Oddly, given the book's title and cover photo of Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, there is little inside information on the relationship between the two men and the British and American decision makers that hasn't been well chronicled in mainstream news outlets' coverage of the war. This shallowness extends to the rest of Allies as well. One hopes for some innovative analysis or revolutionary research but Shawcross mostly just presents his opinion: that Saddam was dangerous, the Americans were right to remove him, and that the UN and much of Europe were wrong to object. Another problem with Allies is how fluid the situation in Iraq was as the book went to press. As a result, Shawcross's analysis runs the risk of being outdated and irrelevant within a comparatively short period of time. Allies is a quick read and Shawcross is a fine writer but one wishes that he could have provided more depth to such a complicated situation. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Once a prime critic of U.S. foreign policy in his much-acclaimed Sideshow (1979), Shawcross has now become convinced that the U.S. is the only country capable of changing the world for the better. Arguably, the one common thread between Sideshow and Allies is the laudable conviction that wholesale violation of human rights crimes against humanity cannot be tolerated in a just world order. Just as he excoriated Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger for the saturation bombing of Cambodia, Shawcross now lauds George W. Bush and Tony Blair for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But unlike the earlier book, this one is short on investigative journalism and long on opinion. Bush, Blair and Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz are cast as unalloyed heroes in a morality play, with the French and the Germans portrayed as ever-"cynical" villains. The absence of nuance will no doubt appeal to Bush and Blair partisans, but will put off some others. Shawcross offers little that has not already appeared in the newspapers, and glosses over the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction, the contracts awarded to companies close to the U.S. administration, and the growing restiveness of Iraqis in "liberated" Iraq. President Bush can do no wrong; French President Chirac (the "crook") can do no right. This is a polemic, not a work of careful research and persuasion. It contributes more heat than light to the debate over Iraq, and will change few minds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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I recommend it as a balanced exposition that puts the decisions into historical context.
C. Haskins
These chapters seem to give a fair treatment to the subject and Shawcross makes some, but not enough, progress in redeeming his poor coverage of Iraq.
Lee L.
That is a backward region without good governance, political rights, civil liberties or a free media.
Pieter Uys

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By voracious reader on February 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I bought the book in order to read 'the other view' because I was very much opposed to the invasion of Iraq. It's not often that 'the other view' can change my mind on an issue of which I am very certain but this book managed to make me rethink quite a few of my objections to the war in Iraq. I particularly enjoyed the author's dissection of the motives and machinations of France and Germany, especially in light of their having been the beneficiaries of the Marshall Plan - and its resultant prosperity.
They came across as very selfish, self-serving ingrates - a point of view I hadn't considered before reading the book. As well, the clearly anti-American stance of both countries and their obstructionist politics are revealed in all their damaging and self-serving glory, along with the author's analysis why, no matter the reasons, it is fatal to the world community future.
The book is easily readable and short but contains a balanced perspective on the mistakes the US has made along the way coupled with the long history of Iraq's brutal dictatorship. The book makes the case that, in spite of the lack of found WMD, the war in Iraq was not only necessary but humane. I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with the author's view - though I am neither a Republican nor any fan of the Bush administration.
I gave the book 5 stars because of its readability, balanced view and the author's list of consulted resources and in spite of the many typos the book contains. Was the editor sleeping on the job or was this a 'rush to print'?
At any rate, I highly recommend this book for two reasons:
1. Read by the people who already agree with the invasion of Iraq, it will give them cogent material to support their view and,
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Morseburg on October 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
William Shawcross is a man of the left who made his reputation with the book Sideshow, which was about Kissinger, Nixon and their campaign in Cambodia. Unlike many on the left, in this slim, provocative volume he supports the Anglo-american alliance in Iraq and the Bush-Blair campaign to oust Saddam Hussein and attempt build a more liberal Arab society in Iraq. Shawcross was appalled by the death of his friend Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN diplomat who was killed by the truck bombing of the UN compound in Iraq. He sees Islamic terrorists as the forces of darkness who are opposed to the civil society and feels that leftists who express sympathy with them are terribly misguided. Shawcross is very critical of French policy, which he feels has not been driven by idealism but by cynicsm, craven self-interest and myopic anti-Americanism.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lee L. on December 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Shawcross attempts to explain the American-European relationship after 9/11 and leading up to the Iraq war. He claims in his introduction that "the book isn't a narrative of the war in Iraq but a glance at one of the ways in which the international community, following 9/11, confronted evil." The book is indeed not a narrative of the war itself, but rather a narrative about how the war started.

The first chapter is essentially an overview of Iraq since the early 80's up until before the war. This chapter is poor at best. Many of the important details from this time period aren't even mentioned. There's no discussion of the U.S. coup attempt in the mid-90s, no discussion of how the U.S. was manipulating the weapons inspections process. The real reasons surrounding Desert Fox in 1998 are not discussed either. Shawcross lazily attributes it to Hussein's defiance, which is only half of the story. What happened in Iraq during the 90s was not merely the result of Hussein's actions. What the U.S. did mattered. It had an enormous effect, but Shawcross doesn't even begin to address it. He also appears to believe that the U.S. had no responsibility for the detrimental effects of the sanctions during the 90s. He attributes anyone's belief that the U.S. might bear some responsibility in this area to "Iraqi propaganda."

The next chapter attempts to compare and contrast Bush and Blair as leaders and why they would come together on the Iraq issue even though their partnership seems counterintuitive. In this chapter Shawcross continues his poor handling of Iraq events from the 90s as he attributes the Khobar towers bombing in Saudi Arabia to Bin Laden even though Iran and Hezbollah are known to be responsible for the attacks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By brian komyathy VINE VOICE on December 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, the cover of this book as well as its title are both misleading. This book isn't just about relations between Tony Blair and George Bush per se. It is broader than that, encompassing relations amongst the big 4 allies, actually: Germany, France, Britain & the USA---pretty much ignoring Italy, Turkey, and other NATO allies. A more accurate title of this book would have been entitled something like: "The Collapse of Consensus: Euro-American Relations & the War in Iraq." There's nothing new in this book, however, but it does provide a rather concise summary of how heretofore Allied consensus ran aground over the shoals of whether to employ force against Saddam Hussein or not. Most involved were of the opinion, after all, that Saddam was a brutal dictator and that he was bucking the authority of the United Nations. Some just refused to countenance the use of force to do anything about it. A little history: UN Resolution #678 was adopted in 1990 authorizing all member states "to use all necessary means" to enforce the removal of Saddam's army from Kuwait "and to restore international peace and security in the area." Once such was accomplished, Saddam formally accepted ceasefire terms---codified under UN Resolution #687 in 1991---that he unconditionally give up all his chemical & biological weapons capability/stocks/development. Quoting Mr. Shawcross: "In March 2003, not one of the fifteen members [of the UN Security Council] doubted that Iraq was still in breach of all the relevant, binding Council resolutions since 678." (Incidentially, the word "binding" herein refers to the fact that Security Council resolutions are enforceable, unlike General Assembly resolutions---against Israel, for instance---which are purely political & NOT binding.Read more ›
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