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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hands Across the Atlantic, Optimistic But Feasible
If you have read T.R. Reid's recently published "The United States of Europe" (strongly recommended), you will know that the European Union is certainly evolving into a formidable power. Unfortunately the U.S. has not paid much heed, much to our detriment given the lack of support for recent U.S. actions in Iraq. Author Timothy Garton Ash, a fellow at St. Antony's...
Published on December 12, 2004 by Ed Uyeshima

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ignoring the elephant in the room
Here's what Bruce Bawer has to say about this, in his Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (pp. 140-1):

Garton Ash, in his 2004 book FREE WORLD, actually claimed that the most important issue facing Europe today is the conflict between "Euro-Gaullists" who want Europe to counterbalance American power and "Euroatlanticists" who favor strong U.S. ties...
Published on May 28, 2010 by Caraculiambro


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hands Across the Atlantic, Optimistic But Feasible, December 12, 2004
If you have read T.R. Reid's recently published "The United States of Europe" (strongly recommended), you will know that the European Union is certainly evolving into a formidable power. Unfortunately the U.S. has not paid much heed, much to our detriment given the lack of support for recent U.S. actions in Iraq. Author Timothy Garton Ash, a fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford, has written a perceptive and ultimately reassuring book about the current rift between the United States and Europe. Citing the Iraqi conflict as a touchstone, he convincingly argues that the West has always been in turmoil and that the current struggles only show the resonance of the democratic process on a more global plain. First, he accounts for the more fundamental differences in lucid terms marked by the governing administrations. He observes Americans are more religious than Europeans, which seems apt given the recent election results. Americans are more distrustful of government and tolerate greater economic inequality in return for greater individual freedom. Americans place more emphasis on economic growth than on protection of the environment. Americans are more jealous of national sovereignty and have strong feelings on issues anathema to Europeans like the death penalty and gun ownership.

From this Atlantic division, Ash recognizes sharper differences within the U.S. and Europe. Europeans are divided into "Euro-Atlanticists", who want political ties with the U.S. and worry about the sovereign tendencies of the European Union, and "Euro-Gaullists", who see the EU as an essential counterweight to the U.S. and support a consolidated welfare state. For their part, Americans are divided between what have come to be called red-state and blue-state voters. The blue side corresponds to the "Euro-Atlanticist" side, while the red side encompasses traditionally conservative issues such as gun ownership and resistant hostility toward international institutions like the EU. What results is an overlap in what the U.S. sees as the Democratic Party since Europe does not have a red-state equivalent resembling the republicans and the U.S. has no organized socialist party on movement with the two major parties. This overlap is where Ash sees the future of true partnership where he believes the U.S. can move toward greater multi-lateralism and Europe toward improved trans-Atlantic cooperation.

Clearly there is a great amount of optimism in Ash's viewpoint. He wholeheartedly feels that what divides the West is less significant than what unites it, even though he acknowledges the erosion in shared causes and memories due to both the "Euro-Gaullist" mindset shaped by French President Jacques Chirac and the unilateralism forced by the Bush administration. It is really this divisiveness that makes it difficult to believe Ash's vision of trans-Atlantic unity will come to fruition any time soon. One fundamental difference is the war on terrorism. Americans view 9/11 as the beginning of a new age of nihilistic, mass-casualty terrorism, while Europeans, used to random bombings, tend to think of it as a single lucky shot. Moreover, the perception of American credibility has been sorely tested given the lack of resolution in the Iraq conflict. But Ash gives one faith with his well-written arguments about the joint mission toward spreading freedom globally, even if there have been communication breakdowns on the death penalty and global warming. Highly recommended reading for those who realize we must face up to our responsibilities beyond our borders.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the Doctor ordered., November 14, 2004
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Given the current world climate it is hard to find a balanced voice. Free World is that. Timothy Garton Ash has the experience needed to write such a work. His books on Europe in the late Eighties and Nineties are essential reading if you wish to understand the European epoch since the fall of the Berlin Wall. This time around he covers more ambitious territory: America vs. Europe and the place of Britain in this new post September 11th world. This is quite readable and more importantly quite wise. Ash shows clearly that propagandistic hysteria in the face of the present moment is probably the worst of all responses. He emphasizes what is crucially needed in this polarized world: Dialogue. His recommendations are keen and genuine. Buy several copies of this book and give them to friends of ANY political persuasion. Let's not talk about 'them' in superior tones. Let's realize that our differences will never disappear and talk nonetheless.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced overview of material, not surprising....., February 6, 2005
The message of Timothy Garton Ashe's FREE WORLD is familiar to those who are informed, but it remains useful because unlike many other English-speaking writers of these times, Ashe is not engaged in polemics. Rather he seeks to find a constructive middle ground among and between the various factions in the West-Europe and America - which he describes as not unlike lemmings fighting on the edge of a cliff (Briton and France he likens to Mattheau and Lemmon in `Grumpy Old Men'). He suggests that America is divided against itself, and Europe is divided about America. Furthermore, Europe cannot succeed alone and America cannot succeed alone, and the Atlantic-based West probably has only about 20 more years of hegemony before another superstar arises that may not have the best interests of the West at heart-probably from the East-perhaps China, Japan India, or Islamic centered in Indonesia.

Garton says the West needs to address issues of concern in four global areas: 1/ The Near East; 2/ The Far East; 3/ The South with its staggering poverty; 4/ The environmental health of the globe. These four areas are not mutually exclusive. Poverty and population growth which contribute to the degradation of the planet are still the major issues they have been for several decades. Rather than make the problem better the West has made the problem worse. Ashe reviews issues that plague the rest of the world, such as farm subsidies and import regulations in the West that harm rather than help. Free range, free trade, `free' is the operative word.

The educated and informed may not find Ashe is saying anything new, but this book is a good summarization of where we in the West stand at this moment in time, and what our role has been and might be.

If you want to become more informed, i.e. get a handle on current events without the polemics (the book does not "trash" Bush), FREE WORLD is excellent resource-and it reads well (I love his metaphors). Although many of us may want to drop out, every one of us has a stake in world affairs, if not for our own sake, for the sake of our children. This book raises consciousness of current affairs and how they revolve around decisions made in the West. You can contribute to the solution or be part of the problem--the choice is yours. No matter what part of the planet you call home, or what your politics might be, you will find this book informative--unless you know it all.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone in the West interested in foreign affairs, October 18, 2008
This review is from: Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West (Paperback)
[...]

Best described as a globalist's perspective and suggestions for the problems facing the civilized world. Ash is a well-known British political author and professor of European Studies at Oxford, best known for his writings on recent political history. Although he focuses on Europe, this book displays an understanding of the widening schism between the two "halves" of the West - America and Europe. He accurately assesses the problems facing the post-Cold War West and passionately argues that it must find a way to reunite, that it might continue to lead in a Free World.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The two faces of 9/11, January 20, 2005
With years of European and American journalism as a foundation, Garton Ash seeks a means of preventing skirmishes from turning into clashes. The interests of Europe and America are the same, he contends. The primary one is "freedom". Where freedom can be enjoyed by a populace, other benefits assuredly follow. With freedom, however, comes responsibility. Part of that responsibility is the recognition that the remainder of the world does not enjoy those freedoms. To bring that Free World about, there must be compromises. In recognising where compromises must be made, policy makers must confront world realities, not simply follow entrenched dogmas. In this compelling study, he brings great insight into analysing the issues our societies face and offers provocative solutions for them.

Garton Ash uses something as simple as how Europeans and Americans write dates. The infamous "9/11" [September 11] in the United States is a glorious "9/11" [09 November] in Europe. These are the pivotal dates in viewing the true onset of the 21st Century. For the United States, it is the collapse of the World Trade Centre under the hijackers' assault. For Europeans, the collapse of the Berlin Wall signalled the end of a divided continent. For the United States, "9/11" has divided a nation by an administration bent on revenge. In Europe "9/11" is an opportunity to consolidate and dispose of old rivalries. In making this comparison, however, the author is quick to point out that none of these images are as simple as they appear. Europe has a long way to go to shed local interests and jealousies. The United States is a single entity bearing immense military power which, as is now obvious, it feels it may use with impunity. European nations, even as a "Union", must not develop policy out of resentment for that power. The United States must realise that the world is a highly diverse place. Other norms, other interests, other feelings must be regarded seriously.

Within a short time, Europe will count almost as many states as the continental USA. Within a few years, there will be forty nations participating in a European community. This amalgamation will include, as it already does, former Soviet Bloc nations. It will reach to the Near East [what Americans call the "Middle East"], which will likely be a stepping stone to the Far East. What all these assembling nations will have in common is a large measure of freedom. The economic and social benefits of joining this organisation will make absolutist governments untenable. "Human rights" and environmental protection are already a condition of EU membership. With the expansion of that standard, says Garton Ash, a positive framework will be in place for further beneficial policies. The looming question will be whether the United States will follow that lead. America's consumptive and expansionist power must be curbed from within. Will it be able to take that step?

Garton Ash thinks that's a possible path. The guide down that track must be Great Britain. The "Special Relationship", established by Churchill [Roosevelt's job was mostly to agree] so derided by many, is a keystone in the bridge between Europe and America. America's place as the "daughter of Europe" has been replaced by it being "uncle of Europe". Britain can help the United States back on the path to multilateralism it once championed with the formation of the United Nations. Once that structure is firmly in place, the wealth of the new linkage can be used to break the bonds of poverty leashing so many. The first step in that regard is the tumbling of another wall, the trade barriers restricting the imports of Third World products.

This is a book to be studied, not merely read. It's not a difficult job, and Garton Ash hasn't wasted a single word in the presentation. He's an observer of consummate skills and a peerless writer. The book contains some compelling comparative "maps" illustrating the way the world is structured in human terms. They are an intriguing way of imparting the information - even if you need to shed your old geography lessons. The only lack in this book is failure to offer a way to overcome the established mind-sets of the people who cannot or will not see beyond the path they are on. Read this book, then show it to them. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For a freer world, September 25, 2005
This book has an essentially beneficial and humane message. It advocates greater cooperation between the European Union and the United States in promoting and extending democratic freedoms throughout the world.

It points to the trend in the world towards extension of democratic freedoms and believes the West should have the mission of fighting poverty throughout the globe and extending democratic freedoms insofar as this is possible.

All this is wise and good, but the author tends to downplay the negative forces working to undermine the West. He repeatedly faults Europe for not integrating its Muslim population without considering the possibility that that population is resisting the idea of integration, and in fact promoting an eventually Islamic Europe. Here Garton Ash would have done well to have read Bat- Yeor's work, "Eurabia". He does not consider in depth the dangers to the world economy presented by OPEC, and the oil monopoly. He does not look at the terrible repression of women which is so widespread throughout the Islamic world.

And so while his values and ideal aims are commendable he does not give a detailed enough presentation of the obstacles in the way of their realization.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wise Post-Mortem on the Post-Western World, but?, October 25, 2008
This review is from: Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West (Paperback)
This "Whither goes the West?" critique of emerging international relations is both thoughtful and literate, and raises in a careful way, many fundamental questions that, arguably, only a smoothly evolving and united European/American led future can answer. Should there be even the least disturbing of upheavals, discontinuities and disruptions, as surely there will be, both in the world and in the transatlantic relationship, then all bets for the author's "carefully balanced" and unusually rosy prognostications are off.

To say that the challenges for the continued success of a "Western dominated World," will be daunting would be a monument to understatement. And despite the author's upbeat approach and attitude, both the underlying realties (the so called fundamentals) and the trajectory of history, not only seem to suggest that the world is changing in unpredictable ways, but also that it seems to be lurching in a more or less random walk towards a new "less knowable" catastrophic future. Terrorism is just one of many such unknowable un-predictabilities. The idea that there is a neatly arranged happy ending to our global dilemma belies what history has taught us and what we have seen our politics capable of achieving. And while it is true that we have won the Cold war, just barely averted a nuclear holocaust, and globalized the international economy, hollow proclamations of "freedom" will not quite be enough to turn the corner and save ourselves from an uninviting future.

"Steadiness" and "smoothness" are not adjectives I would use to describe Western leadership in the aftermath of a turbulent and bloody last century, the most brutal and bloodiest of all history. The more apt adjective "shaky" comes to mind, and would, in any case be somewhat closer to the truth: For the world remains poor, uneducated, dramatically unequal, divided and restless, and while we in the West were busy "making the world safe for our version of democracy," the rest of the world has been "going to hell in a hand basket. Plus, all our success has despoiled the planet in ways that are perhaps beyond recovery.

It would be foolish to pretend that there is no good news in all of this, but a sober disinterested mind might conclude equally that the imperatives controlling our narcissism, greed, racist and self-assigned importance, might be enough to tilt the balance against a more enlightened and survivable future.

Four Stars.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ignoring the elephant in the room, May 28, 2010
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Caraculiambro (La Mancha and environs) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West (Paperback)
Here's what Bruce Bawer has to say about this, in his Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (pp. 140-1):

Garton Ash, in his 2004 book FREE WORLD, actually claimed that the most important issue facing Europe today is the conflict between "Euro-Gaullists" who want Europe to counterbalance American power and "Euroatlanticists" who favor strong U.S. ties. For chapters at a time, FREE WORLD contained no mention whatsoever of Europe's Islamization. When Garton Ash did bring up Islam early on, he did so only to emphasize that Islam in Europe isn't a problem in and of itself; the only problem, he maintained, resides in the "populist, anti-immigrant parties," their low-life voters, and people like Oriana Fallaci, whose courageous book The Rage and The Pride Garton Ash called "garish." But then, toward the end of FREE WORLD, as I noted in a review of it, Garton Ash does a sudden about-face, admitting (on pages 196-7) that there IS a problem with Islam in Europe, and that if it isn't addressed properly, "we face a downward spiral which will be the curse of the national politics of Europe for years ahead. . . . To halt this downward spiral is the single most urgent task of European domestic politics in the next decade. We may already be too late. . . . " This admission follows 196 pages of pretending that the "urgent tasks" of European politics lie elsewhere; and after he's made it, he drops the topic cold and returns to the more comfortable conceit that the REAL European dilemma is this business about Britain bringing the United States and Europe together.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a very conservative take, May 25, 2008
This review is from: Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West (Paperback)
The book did not work for me, because of the usage of too many broad generalizations to make a point. The author finds these generalizations necessary in order to be able to analyze at all. He also likes to point at those who harbor prejudices towards the author's opinions. Instead of insights, I only found attempts to justify the author's conservative opinions, which basically can be summed up as: America is doing (and did) great things and the right things, and this includes the Iraq War, ... I respect different opinions, but only, if they are presented as such and not disguised as incredible insights. Unwilling to see Europe and the US as partners, the author shows a strong need to reaffirm superiority of all that is American compared to all the is European. He gives the impression of feeling inferior or being afraid of the uniting trend in Europe. Not a necessary read!
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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The future"---but without specifics how to get there., May 20, 2005
"At the finishing line, the diplomacy of the Iraq crisis came down to a clash of two old European strategies, Gaullism and Churchillism." Mr. Garton Ash further posits that "1940 was the fulcrum of the 20th century. For Churchill, the traumatic fall of France meant launching Britain on the only path that remained available to preserve its greatness: conjuring a special relationship with the US. For de Gaulle, it meant launching a crusade to restore the greatness of France from the ashes of total defeat." So while it may be argued that "America is divided by a great argument about itself, Europe is divided by a great argument about America, which is, however, also a symptom of Europe trying to make sense of its own transformation." A condominium of sorts between France & Britain is what is called for, consequently, Mr. Garton Ash, a Brit, argues. Otherwise the French will continue their (increasingly) rearguard action to promote France in the name of European integration. (In Frenchman Jean Monnet's words: "If you have a problem you cannot solve, enlarge the context.") And the only way he sees it coming together in sincere form would be by way of "a historic compromise" between Britain & its ancient enemy France. I have to say that this book is rather informative and interesting up until around this point. He doesn't, however, offer any ideas how such can be effected, nor does he see (what I think may be) the more likely outcome; namely, that Gaullism will wither to some extent once its generational proponents are ecclipsed by new modes of instinct and realism. (A leading condender to be the next president of France, for instance---N. Sarkozy, is not 1/4 as viscerally resentful of America as Chirac.) This is a balanced book, I will admit. Mr. Garton Ash makes pointed criticisms (justifiable ones at times) of the USA, Britain, as well as France, but this book suffers from the same thing that many Europeans suffer from (as well as some liberal American democrats): the seeming inability or unwillingness to trust common ordinary people with not only the great issues of the day, but also the very fundamental ones as well. Just look at the proposed (70,000 word!) EU constitution & EU governments only---if at all---begrudgingly letting their citizens having an up-or-down vote on it; most EU governments having their parliaments decide on this. (Can you imagine even a single constitutional AMENDMENT being passed simply on a vote in the US Senate without the states having a say?) Relevent to my point herein, Garton Ash in addition wonders whether the EU ought be "encouraging the formation of an Arab Union, as the American's encouraged the formation of a European Union after 1945." But what would a union of dictatorships accomplish? Wouldn't promoting democracy in Morocco, for instance, be a more accomplishable and desired end, first? Why not make some incremental linkages with such countries in exchange for access to EU markets? How about laying off the grandiose designs for a minute and doing something to lay the requisite foundations for such instead? Another quote: "The recipe for human happiness is mysterious and cannot be purchased at Wal-Mart." Sounds dismissive of ordinary folk does it not? Furthermore, he calls the habit of America changing most of its top civil servants every four years "peculiar"; as if having entrenched bureaucracies unresponsive to electoral developements are apparently more rational. How would anything in America ever even have a chance at changing were a new president not able to place its people in positions of influence? God forbid the "people" elect someone responsive to them. Oh, excuse me, I forgot, elitist Europeans are offended by any mention of anything of a spiritual nature---Man IS God, being their rejoinder; or rather, those men at the pinnacles of European society are: they have our interests at heart, let's listen to them. And folks wonder why the USA & Europe don't see things similarly. Cheers! ****************************/
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Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West
Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West by Timothy Garton Ash (Paperback - December 6, 2005)
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