David Clark, who was adviser to the late Robin Cook when the latter was Foreign Secretary, contributed a review of my book Anti-Totalitarianism to Prospect last month, and I've been meaning to write a note about it. His review begins:
It was perhaps inevitable that a book entitled Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy would deal at length with the Iraq story, and Oliver Kamm is to be congratulated for offering a spirited defence of regime change. Unfortunately, the limitations of his position remain all too visible.
And so it goes on. As I say, I've been intending to respond here to one or two of David Clark's points, but as I'll be taking up some of the anti-war criticisms (notably the WMD issue) in published articles in the next few weeks to coincide with the third anniversary of the war, I won't do it now. Clark is an informed commentator, and his review is a thoughtful one. He does, however, misunderstand my position in referring to my "belief that it is possible to be a neoconservative and remain on the left". Neoconservatism is a variant of American liberalism, but I am not actually a neoconservative. The neoconservative movement in the US encompasses a range of views on domestic policy that I do not necessarily share. If you read Douglas Murray's stimulating book Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, which has several times been reviewed alongside my book, you will find recommendations on, among other things, cutting drastically the size of the state, which I do not think either possible or desirable. My only point is that, as those of us who support an interventionist foreign policy are invariably termed neoconservatives by our critics, and I don't regard it as an insult, we might as well appropriate the label for ourselves, much as the original neoconservatives did. (The term 'neoconservative' was coined - by the American Socialist leader Michael Harrington in the 1970s - as an insult.)
There is also a review article about my book, with Douglas's, in the new issue of Commentary by Daniel Johnson. Johnson is so gracious that I feel churlish in pointing out that he is mistaken on at least the second point when he refers to me as "one of Blair’s more eloquent defenders and a self-described neoconservative". But he quite correctly says:
Like Bush and Blair, [Kamm] is not afraid to compare Saddam’s Iraq with Hitler’s Germany, and he saw a moral imperative in overthrowing the Baathist regime in Baghdad before it became a direct threat. By tradition and principle alike, liberals are honor-bound, by his lights, to be full participants in the fight against totalitarianism.
Johnson also very kindly describes this site as valuable, which I can safely say is not a view held by the overwhelming majority of people who write to me about it.