In This Review

Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain, and Europe in a New Century
Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain, and Europe in a New Century
By Chris Patten
Times Books, 2006, 320 pp

Former chair of the British Conservative Party, last British governor of Hong Kong, former European commissionerfor external relations, and now chancellor of Oxford, Patten has put all of his narrative virtuosity, breadth of vision, common sense, and often hilarious verve into this magisterial volume -- a cocktail of autobiography, political analysis of the state of the world, and policy prescriptions, peppered with priceless anecdotes and incisive portraits. The most salient part of the book is Patten's sharp condemnation of the recent unilateralist, militaristic turn in U.S. foreign policy (he dislikes Vice President Dick Cheney and calls UN Ambassador John Bolton "the Pavarotti of neoconservatism") and his equally sharp critique of Tony Blair's policy on Iraq ("Supporting the Bush invasion ... is probably the worst service we have paid America"). Patten calls on Washington to return to the kind of policy it followed after World War II and for much greater U.S. involvement in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in global environmental and development issues, and in UN reform. He is also a lucid defender of the European Union, making strong cases for the inclusion of Turkey and for forging a union that is neither a superpower competitor of the United States nor just an appendix of Washington. In the end, Patten sees the economic rise of China and India as an opportunity for the West, but he also warns of the dangers of "the revolt of the alienated" and "the revolt of the dispossessed." It is to be hoped that Patten will have more opportunities to apply his intelligence and his wit to international policy.