Some things change just to remain the same. For students of politics, international relations, history and those wishing to be better informed.
Thanks to Net Galley and I.B. Tauris for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for a review.
Like most people I read articles about politics and current affairs, but in my case I rarely read whole books about it (at least not recently). But when I got the opportunity of reading this book for review I thought it couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
Simon Jenkins is an expert on the subject and this book compiles many of his previous articles over the last 15 years, with the vantage point of time and his current reflections on the topic. He is humble enough to recognise that sometimes not even the sharpest and best informed of analysts realises the ramifications of certain events. And trying to second guess what world leaders will do by using common sense and strategic knowledge will rarely work. Making good the adage that those who don’t remember their history are doomed to repeat it, he analyses the behaviour of both the US and the UK and their military interventions abroad, in light of previous history. Considering the crisis of refugees the subject is more than current, and many of the questions Jenkins asks (why have there been American and UK interventions in some countries and not others; what role plays the United Nations; what could justify a military intervention in another country, especially when it is not supported by legal arguments; is the war on terror a real war?) are as relevant, if not more, now.
There are no great revelations in this volume but the clarity of the arguments and the analysis of an expert that has first-hand knowledge (including visiting Iraq and Afghanistan at the time) give perspective and depth to the subject. Although there are more questions than answers (and you might not agree with the conclusions and the summary Jenkins offers) this volume adds to the debate on Western interventions and will be of interest to those studying recent international politics, history, and keen on getting better informed about this subject that will continue to be a matter of international debate.