A former British ambassador who served in Washington through the critical years before the Iraq war gave rave reviews Thursday to the new book by President George W. Bush, calling "Decision Points" interesting and readable "with frequent flashes of humor."
Christopher Meyer, who wrote about his own years here in a titillating book called "D.C. Confidential," said the former president is looking for vindication in the memoir of his two terms in the White House that were shaped by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about eight months after his first inauguration.
"The book reads like the man speaks," Mr. Meyer said in the British magazine, the Spectator. "This is an interesting and readable book, which clips along in short, spare sentences with frequent flashes of humor."
"Bush, like [former Prime Minister Tony] Blair, looks to his history for his vindication, which, he confesses, will not come in his lifetime," Mr. Meyer wrote.
Mr. Blair, a Labor Party leader, was the Republican president's most reliable ally in the war that toppled the brutal regime of Iraq's Saddam Hussein but later damaged the reputations of both men, as the conflict lingered on without the prized discovery of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
"Like Blair, Bush is unrepentant about removing Saddam Hussein, but a good deal franker about the things that went wrong," Mr. Meyer said. "It was a 'big mistake' to declare 'Mission Accomplished' after the taking of Baghdad; the U.S. was not adequately prepared for the disorder that followed; it was a mistake to disband the Iraqi army; above all, the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was false, 'a massive blow to our credibility - my credibility.' "
"This [book] allows [Mr. Bush] to present himself as he would like to be remembered: a leader unafraid to take tough decisions," Mr. Meyer added. "However self-serving, ... the book offers real insights into the workings of the White House and the dilemmas of policymaking."
Mr. Meyer, ambassador in Washington from 1997 to 2003, recalls that he first met Mr. Bush when the former president was governor of Texas.
"He was anything but stupid; and his Texan provincialism would prove a political strength, not a weakness, in middle America," Mr. Meyer recalled, adding that he predicted that Mr. Bush would probably defeat former Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 election.
"When I warned London that Bush might beat Gore, it was greeted with disbelief and, among the New Labor zealots in Downing Street, with irritation," he wrote. "I was accused of a pro-Republican bias."
In his own memoir released in 2005, Mr. Meyer recalled that Mr. Blair and other Labor leaders were "seduced" by American power. He also compared many members of Mr. Blair's Cabinet to a "crowd of pygmies."
JAMAICA IN NEW JERSEY
Jamaican Ambassador Audrey Marks is off again on a tour of American cities to promote her island nation.
Her latest destination is New Jersey, which has a surprisingly large number of Americans of Jamaican heritage. She leaves Friday to address the Rutgers University Law Center. Saturday she will be the keynote speaker at the Jamaica America Bar Association in Edison and visit Elsie Foster Dublin, the Jamaican-born deputy mayor of Highland Park.
Before assuming her duties in Washington in May, the ambassador was one of the Caribbean's most successful business executives. Her firm, Paymaster Jamaica Ltd., employs 400 workers and handles $40 billion in transactions a year.
- Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or send e-mail to jmorrison@washington times.com.
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