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William Shawcross

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This Book Report is about Allies by William Shawcross published by Publicaffairs published on January 6, 2004 in New York.

In March 2003 the United States, England, and their coalition allies took massive perils in attacking Iraq. They jeopardized one of the most thriving coalitions in history. They jeopardized both the United Nations and themselves. And they periled forming a new marsh in which terrorists could breed and prosper. Allies by William Shawcross is an investigation of the risks taken in Iraq, the motive for them and the ways in which the confrontation posed by Iraq was different from anything faced by the post-war Western accord. Perhaps for that rationale, the choice to go to war in Iraq endangered, and to some level still intimidates, to obliterate that accord.

William Shawcross, a notable foreign writer with an unrivalled viewpoint on international associations, shows why the United States had to take the path; why Britain-and many other countries pursued; and why Franco-German fabrication and hindrance had to be brushed aside. Without reducing the realism of the continuing risks or rejecting that blunders were made along this most tricky of journeys, Shawcross disputes fervently that going to war in Iraq was the correct thing to do.

William Shawcross first came to fame with Sideshow, a buzzing denunciation of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon's measures in Cambodia. This time he vigorously supports the armed forces actions of the United States administration as it attacks Iraq and overthrows the government of Saddam Hussein. Preventive war is not the uncharacteristic approach that some of George W. Bush's detractors might propose but rather an essential plan in dealing with perilous dictators. Shawcross tramples calmly on the argument over the reality of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and the anxious setting of post-Saddam Iraq while telling at length the human rights offenses committed by Saddam Hussain and his sons Qusay and Uday to make the point that that the war was necessary. France and Germany are cast here as ungrateful opportunists for their antagonism to Bush. Jacques Chirac, in particular, is on the receiving end of much hostility by Shawcross who never lets pass an opportunity to mention nicknames like "The Crook" or "Super Menteur" to illustrate the president of France. Strangely, given the book's title and cover photograph of United States President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, there is slight inside information on the bond between the two men and the American and British decision makers that hasn't been well recorded in conventional news channels reporting of the war. This inconsequentiality widens to the rest of Allies as well.

I wished for some ground-breaking examination or radical study but Shawcross frequently just presents his view: that Saddam was treacherous, the Americans were correct to eliminate him, and that the UN and much of Europe were incorrect to object. Another dilemma with Allies is how fluid the condition in Iraq was as the book went to press. As a consequence, Shawcross's examination runs the possibility of being obsolete and inappropriate within a moderately short period of time. Allies is a swift read and Shawcross is a very good writer but one desires that he could have given more profundity to such a complex situation. 

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