Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, April 28, 2004
WILLIAM SHAWCROSS is in town to talk at the Sydney Institute tonight and push his new book, Allies: The US and the World in the Aftermath of the Iraq War.

Classic FM's Margaret Throsby pulls him in for a chat, and puts to him the standard communard line: America the aggressive out-of-control superpower, the neo-con conspiracy, quagmire, etc.

Because Margaret is, as usual, out of her depth, and her guest so reasonable, the questions get longer, more declarative and more convoluted, but Shawcross gets his message across.

Pity we can't hear it on-line.

Later: We can read Shawcross's anwer to those who preach not only quagmire, but the pointlessness of wanting anything better, in this Spectator article (registration required).

Liddle asserts [in a previous Spectator article], ‘Right now, there is not the faintest glimmer that the Iraqis are clamouring for more secular democracy.’ The truth, however, is that municipal elections have been held in 17 cities so far; according to Taheri they have all been won by democratic and secularist parties. There are now more children in school and university than at any time in the last 20 years. There is not yet enough clean water or electricity, but there is more in more places than under Saddam.

There are 200 newspapers in Iraq, instead of the few that mouthed the ghastly Saddamite lies a year ago. Iraq’s Mafia-style command economy is history and foreign capital has been rushing into the country. Many Marsh Arabs are now moving back to their traditional rivers, which are being reflooded after Saddam drained them in a brutal act of ethnic cleansing

And if anyone's heard of the marsh Arabs on Auntie lately, do let us know.