Drawing a Dog in Iraq

The Prince of the Marshes and Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq
by Rory Stewart
Harcourt, 396 pp., $25.00

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The British governed Iraq under a League of Nations mandate, and with some success, between 1920 and 1932. They returned to southern Iraq in 2003 as a junior member of the US-led coalition which invaded and conquered the country. With the second British coming arrived Rory Stewart, a young soldier and diplomat. The book under review is his story of the part he played in governing, successively, two southern provinces in Iraq, Maysan and Dhi Qar, between September 2003 and June 2004. He tells how the attempt to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq led to the frustration of the conquerors, the dissolution of the state, and the country’s collapse into insurgency and sectarian violence. Implicitly his book is a devastating indictment of a total failure to align rhetoric with reality. It raises profound questions about the purposes and limits of military intervention in the internal affairs of a country in today’s world. The reader cannot put the book down without wondering: What on earth did they think they were doing?

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Hot, Cold and Imperial

1945: The War That Never Ended
by Gregor Dallas
Yale University Press, 739 pp., $40.00

Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors
by Charles S. Maier
Harvard University Press, 373 pp., $27.95

The question of how the world should be run, and America’s part in its running, is the subject of much academic and political discussion in Washington these days. The factual questions are: Is the United States on the road to becoming an empire like the Roman and British Empires before it? What are the prospects for such an enterprise in today’s world? More speculatively, does globalization require an imperial underpinning? There are also questions of value: Is imperialism a good or bad thing? Should the United States sacrifice its republican institutions in order to fulfil an imperial vocation?[1] Gregor Dallas’s 1945: The War That Never Ended can be read as setting the scene for this discussion. The Second World War cleared away the European empires, actual and aspiring, leaving the United States and the Soviet Union as the two contending superpowers. The collapse of the Soviet Union concluded the “unfinished business” of the war, by leaving the United States the sole superpower and simultaneously creating a single world economy. The dynamics of postwar US supremacy and the question of whether they are pushing the United States toward formal empire are the subject matter of Charles Maier’s Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors.

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The Chinese Shadow II

Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East
by Clyde Prestowitz
Basic Books, 321 pp., $26.95

China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World
by Ted C. Fishman
Scribner, 342 pp., $26.00

China’s Urban Transition
by John Friedmann
University of Minnesota Press, 168 pp., $56.95; $18.95 (paper)

Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace
by Pun Ngai
Duke University Press/Hong Kong University Press,227 pp., $79.95; $22.95 (paper)

The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future
by Elizabeth C. Economy
Council on Foreign Relations/Cornell University Press,337 pp., $17.95 (paper)

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Three superb recent books by John Friedmann, Pun Ngai, and Elizabeth C. Economy explore the effect of China’s economic “rise,” not on the United States but on China.[1] John Friedmann’s China’s Urban Transition looks at it through the lens of urbanization. Mao Zedong was anti-city, partly for military reasons: industries were to be dispersed into western mountains and caves, provinces were to be self-sufficient. The population was divided into a privileged urban minority (17 percent) and an exploited rural majority (83 percent). The Maoist city was seen as a production, not a consumption, unit, with workers coralled into factory barracks. The flow of rural labor to cities was tightly controlled; indeed in the decade of the Cultural Revolution millions of “decadent” urbanites were forcibly sent to the countryside. The one-child-per-family policy, originally introduced in cities, held in check the urban population.

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The Chinese Shadow

Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East
by Clyde Prestowitz
Basic Books, 321 pp., $26.95

China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World
by Ted C. Fishman
Scribner, 342 pp., $26.00

1.

The “rise” of China has suddenly become the all-absorbing topic for those professionally concerned with the future of the planet. Will the twenty-first century be the Chinese century, and, if so, in what sense? Will China’s rise be peaceful or violent? And how will this affect the United States, the current “hyperpower”? In fact, China has been “rising” for some time (after several hundred years of “fall”), but for many years its claim to notice was obscured by more exciting events. Attention in the 1990s concentrated on the fall of Soviet communism, “globalization,” the spread of democracy, and the high-tech revolution. These developments, which left America as the world’s sole economic and political superpower, seemed to belie Paul Kennedy’s prediction in 1987 of relative US decline and “more of a multipolar system.”[1]

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In the Führer’s Face

Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis and the Road to World War II
by Ian Kershaw
Penguin, 488 pp., $29.95

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Two themes run through the life and career of Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry. The first is the decline and fall of the British aristocracy; the second is British attitudes toward Hitler and Nazi Germany. They intersect in the person of “Charley” Londonderry because he was an aristocratic survivor in an age of democratic politics who, like many of his kind, saw agreement—friendship is too strong a word—with Hitler as a way of avoiding another war which would finally destroy his kind, and the civilization for which it stood.

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One World?

One World: The Ethics of Globalization
by Peter Singer
Yale University Press, 235 pp., $21.95

Free Trade Today
by Jagdish Bhagwati
Princeton University Press, 128 pp., $35.00; $14.95 (paper)

The Chastening: Inside the Crisis That Rocked the Global Financial System and Humbled the IMF
by Paul Blustein
Public Affairs, 435 pp., $18.00 (paper)

World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability
by Amy Chua
Doubleday, 340 pp., $26.00

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Globalization was the most dramatic idea to emerge from the collapse of communism and the end of the cold war. Suddenly, it seemed, there was “one world.” US State Department official Francis Fukuyama said it first: there was now no ideological obstacle to the spread of markets and democracy. Further, it seemed highly plausible to suppose that the fall of political barriers to trade and the movement of capital would unite the world into a single economic unit. On top of this came the revolution in communications: cell phones and the Internet would, at the very least, speed up the emergence of a global consciousness. At the earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a grimmer aspect of globalization was unveiled: “global warming,” or the threat to the world’s climate from carbon emissions. Common to all these perceptions was the thought that the traditional divisions of humanity into tribes, races, nations, religions, and cultures were obstacles to the “global” thinking needed to bring about prosperity, peace, and justice to all, or indeed to avert planetary disaster.

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The Mystery of Growth

The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth
by Liah Greenfeld
Harvard University Press, 541 pp., $45.00

Lectures on Economic Growth
by Robert E. Lucas Jr.
Harvard University Press, 204 pp., $49.95

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The question of what causes economies to grow is theoretically interesting and practically important. If we could discover the secrets of economic growth—what causes income per person to increase over time—we might be able to make growth happen at will, abolishing poverty and creating a world of universal abundance.

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