5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Well written defence of civil liberties that falls short.
, 5 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Liberty in the Age of Terror: A Defence of Civil Liberties and Enlightenment Values (Paperback)
AC Grayling eloquently condemns and brings to our attention how our civil liberties are being eroded under the pretext of the 'War on Terror'. He points out that many of the invasive laws in the UK were brought into being before the terrorist catastrophes of 9/11, such as the Terrorism Act and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000. Grayling does point out how 9/11 has made things worse with even more irrational, draconian, covert and intrusive laws being passed - very much a victory for the illiberal terrorists who crashed the planes and carried out subsequent attacks in Bali, Madrid and London. Now we are all potentially sleeping terrorist timebombs.
Another of Grayling's strengths is to show that radical Islamism is very much a product of the liberal West, as it is a violent reaction against it by people who have been exposed to western liberal education and lifestyles. However, Grayling does not adequately criticise the weaknesses of the political left and anti-war movements, who come up with the over-simplistic arguments that the war in Iraq was about oil (which Grayling agrees with) and that the wars the UK is fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are inextricably responsible for terrorist atrocities carried out in the West or against Western tourists in Bali or Mumbai
The central weakness of Grayling's thesis is his belief in legalistic measures - he supports the arbitrary and draconian smoking ban; believes libel is an adequate legal redress for 'false' allegations - he should note how wealthy foreign celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, thanks to the UK libel laws, can sue British newspapers even though they are not UK citizens or residents. On a broader note, his support for an International Criminal Court does not come with any questioning of the rights of Western powers to intervene in foreign conflicts e.g. Yugoslavia, and does not examine the possible motives and interests of Western powers (the very people who set up bodies like the ICC) in taking sides in these particular conflicts. That is not to say that the idea of all 'war criminals' being brought to justice isn't a bad thing, but somehow I can't see the day when any American, British or Western leaders or officers will be put in the dock. He fails to see the ICC for what it is: a symbol of Western dominance, and an expensive, bureaucratic and undemocratic mess.
In spite of the book's flaws, its greatest strength is the polemic against the UK government's undermining of our civil liberties and our privacy. However, Grayling falls short by advocating legalistic measures to problems that themselves have been exacerbated and brought into being by too much unwarranted legislation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you?