The Obama Syndrome

Forthcoming from Verso, October 2010

A merciless dissection of Obama’s overseas escalation and domestic retreat …

What has really changed since Bush left the White House? Very little, argues Ali in The Obama Syndrome, apart from the mood music. The hopes aroused during Obama’s election campaign have rapidly receded. Following the financial crisis, the “reform” president bailed out Wall Street without getting anything in return. With Democratic Party leaders and representatives bought by the lobbying system, the healthcare reform bill was quickly eviscerated, public education delivered to the market and the big banks rewarded with light-touch regulation. Abroad, the “war on terror” continues: torture on a daily basis in Bagram, Iraq indefinitely occupied, Israel permanently appeased, and more troops and drone attacks in Af-Pak than under Bush. Obama’s failures are paving the way for a Republican surge, while his own supporters become increasingly despondent.

Tariq Ali in The Obama Syndrome:

“In Cairo, at West Point, at Oslo, Obama has treated the world to one uplifting homily after another, each address larded with every euphemism that White House speechwriters can muster to describe America’s glowing mission in the world: ‘Our country has borne a special burden in global affairs’; ‘Our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.’ The model for this variant of imperial presidency is Woodrow Wilson—no less pious a Christian, whose every second word was peace, democracy or self-determination, while his armies invaded Mexico, occupied Haiti and attacked Russia. But cant still goes a long way to satisfy those who yearn for it …”

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From the archive

  • Tariq Ali and Anthony Arnove: ‘The challenge to the empire’

    October 20, 2006

    ‘The challenge to the empire’, an interview with Tariq Ali and Anthony Arnove for Socialist Worker, October 20, 2006

    After Hugo Chávez’s United Nations (UN) speech in September, the U.S. media either denounced him or treated him with derision. Does Chávez deserve to be dismissed as a madman?

    Tariq Ali: In a world deep in neoliberal sleep, any person who tries to disturb this sleep and to wake people up is denounced and traduced. Hugo Chávez, who I have met and talked with on several occasions, is an extremely intelligent and enlightened political leader. In the public arena, he uses a language that is no longer considered acceptable by the proponents of the Washington consensus. The U.S. media has, in the main, been so slavish toward the Bush regime that Chávez appears extreme.

    What he says, in fact, is the  …

  • ‘A rebel shaped by intellect’

    August 20, 2010

    Tariq Ali interviewed about Night of the Golden Butterfly by Syed Hamad Ali for Gulf News, August 20, 2010

    Tariq Ali has always spoken his mind without the fear that it might raise a storm …

    For nearly half a century Tariq Ali has stood a towering figure on the Left who has rallied against the corruption that power breeds. “I am used to being attacked in the Western media,” the writer tells Weekend Review. “It used to happen non-stop and still does occasionally. But I am never really bothered. My advice to others, especially young writers starting to write, is: Never write to please. If you write to please those in power or those who determine literary prizes, it’s not good for creativity or literature. Write what you really feel like, whatever it is, but never  …

  • ‘Labour in the Dark: The Spirit of Blair Has Not Been Exorcized Yet’

    August 2, 2010

    ‘Labour in the Dark’, Tariq Ali interviewed by Anabel Loyd for the Calcutta Telegraph, August 2, 2010

    Reportedly a regular visitor to Ralph Miliband’s house in Primrose Hill, London, with other well-known left-wing thinkers and activists in the 1970s, Tariq Ali is pessimistic at the prospect of either of the ‘brilliant’ Miliband offspring leading the Labour Party. In his view, the elder, David, is so tarred with the New Labour—Blairite —brush as to be unable to build an alternative image for the party, possibly one reverting more to old Labour roots, while he writes off younger brother, Ed, as weak and indecisive. David was closely associated with all the Blairite policies, and any hint of Labour change currently being touted by the brothers is, he feels, pure pretence, whatever their intellectual socialist background.

    As for the other leadership  …