Smelling salts, please. I'm still recovering from the shock of hearing novelist Ian McEwan make positive noises about the mission in Iraq. McEwan is fashionably left-wing, distrusts Tony Blair and no doubt thinks Bush's middle name is Benito, yet it's clear from this interview that he understands what's at stake. Which makes him a very rare case among the North Oxford and Islington thinking classes:

He was appalled by articles cheering on the insurgents. “I would have thought
that was a vote for anarchy and probably another one-party state.”

He loathed the anti-war slogan Not In My Name. “Its cloying self-importance
suggests a bright new world of protest, with the fussy consumer of shampoos and
soft drinks demanding to feel good, or nice.” Walking past marchers rather than
with them, he says: “I was troubled by the sheer level of happiness on the
street. I did think whatever the reasoning of America for going in, history has
offered us this chance to get rid of Saddam. If you decide you don’t want that,
it is probably a very reasonable view, but it is a vote for more torture, more
genocide. It’s a sombre, grave choice.”

He began as an opponent of war, having “megalomaniac, insomniac” fantasies of getting to Blair and managing to talk him out of it. “There were anxieties Baghdad would be razed, the UN estimated there would be 3m million refugees and half a million dead, although we might get there yet. I did feel there was a humanitarian argument to be made and was very disappointed the government never made it.”

But he was certain the invasion was going to happen anyway. “When it did I fervently wanted it to succeed even though a big chunk of left liberal opinion really wanted it to fail.”

|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/01/mcewans-best-smelling-salts-please.html|||1/25/2005 01:15:00 am|||||||||