The Bulletin of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, at the University of Westminster in London, carries in its Summer 2006 issue a review of my book Anti-Totalitarianism. The review also discusses a recent book by Kate Hudson, Chairman of the Campaign of Nuclear Disarmament (CND), entitled CND - Now More Than Ever: The Story of a Peace Movement. The current issue is not online, but the Bulletin's home page is here.
I don't know the reviewer, Patrick Burke, who is editor of the Bulletin, but he states in his review that he is "a former CND and END [European Nuclear Disarmament] activist ... who still agrees with CND's basic demand, unilateral nuclear disarmament for Britain". Especially given his background, I find Dr Burke's comments on my book gracious and on Ms Hudson's book apposite. He takes issue with some my historical discussion of the British peace movement, and is sceptical of my defence of the Iraq war, but concludes:
But opposing the war in Iraq is not an argument in principle against military interventions whose aim is to stop mass murder. The merit of Kamm's book is that he presents, clearly and coherently, an 'anti-totalitarian' argument for such interventions which, even if in a specific case it may not finally be persuasive, should not be ignored.
On Kate Hudson, Dr Burke has her bang to rights. I wrote a few months ago in this post about her book's extraordinary treatment of the Kosovo war. Dr Burke goes further, and observes that the book "downplays the culpability of the Soviet Union for the Cold War and its role in the nuclear arms race", gives "an extremely narrow, or simply distorted and misleading, account of the causes and nature" of the conflicts the US has been involved in since the Cold War, "leaves out anything inconvenient in her argument", is "largely silent about the depravities of the Saddam [Hussein] regime", and "has nothing - not one word - to say about the nationalist Serb programme's key responsibility ... for the breakup of Yugoslavia".
Having read Ms Hudson's book, I find these criticisms entirely justified. That they are made by a supporter of CND's central demand is suggestive of what I hope may prove an enduring alignment on the British Left. The need for a progressive consensus on the justified use of military intervention has been argued by many others apart from me, and is the principal reason I have added my name to the Euston Manifesto. At the same time, as Nick Cohen pointed out in The Observer last month, so far as the traditional peace movement is concerned, "the friends of George Galloway and Ken Livingstone have taken it over and when those charmers move in, basic principles fly out of the window". CND has gone so far in this direction that it now even opposes the UN's multilateral mechanism for countering nuclear proliferation to Iran. It is not fanciful to conceive of a convergence of progressive opinion on the need to advance global democracy as the mainstay of our foreign policy. I hope this end will be hastened by the transparently reactionary character of the arguments of Ms Hudson, a leading member of the Communist Party of Britain, and those of the Leninist/Islamist front organisation known as the Stop the War Coalition.