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

  • Feeling Good

    August 9, 2013

    Mercifully, I was in South India for two events that showed the English at their worst: a long-delayed sporting triumph and the arrival of George Alexander Louis. So I missed the response to Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon and the eruption that greeted the birth of yet another royal. Before these there was the ‘multicultural triumph’ of the Olympics, followed recently by the ‘illegal immigrant’ buses and non-white citizens being stopped at railway stations. Even the UKIP leader denounced this as not being ‘the British way’.

    ‘Feel-good’ moments never last long; underneath the decay continues. Amazon is permitted to destroy the bookshops while Google, Yahoo et al hand over encrypted lists of their users to the intelligence services. Much simpler than paying taxes. The assault on education; the continuing privatisation of the NHS; the never-ending propaganda directed against benefit claimants; the  …

  • An Interview with Amerasia Journal

    August 1, 2007

    This interview was conducted via e-mail during the summer of 2007 by Russell Leong for Amerasia Journal, with assistance from Stephanie Santos (Amerasia Journal 33: 3; 2007)

    Amerasia (AJ:): You have written much about institutions that act as enablers or pillars of empire. How do you see the role of minority immigrants and refugees, who are intimate subjects of the empire? For example, South Asians and Muslims in England, Turks in Germany, Africans and southeast Asians in Italy, and ethnic minorities in the United States. They are first-, second-, or third-generation citizens, who are both part of but also apart from empire. What potential roles can they play in forming alternative cultural and political voices within empire?

    Ali (TA:): The narratives in this regard are multiple. No universalist response is possible. Immigrants and the countries to which they migrate are so  …

  • Tariq Ali en Zaragoza, Pamplona/Iruña y Madrid – 15,16 y 17 de febrero de 2011

    February 9, 2011

    Tariq Ali en Zaragoza, Pamplona/Iruña y Madrid. 15,16 y 17 de febrero de 2011

    La Universidad Nómada presenta el ciclo de charlas, conferencias e intervenciones de Tariq Ali en Zaragoza, Pamplona/Iruña y Madrid para analizar cuáles son las tendencias de la presidencia de Barack Obama, las líneas centrales de su comportamiento como presidente de Estados Unidos tanto en política exterior e interior y las alianzas que está recreando en su país y en la escena internacional para implementar su proyecto político. También pretende evaluar el grado en que durante los dos primeros años de su mandato sus políticas han conseguido fracturar o romper en Estados Unidos e internacionalmente los grandes compromisos económicos, sociales, políticos y culturales. Se trata de evaluar su presidencia y las potencialidades de la misma para discutir qué tipo de políticas pueden llevar a cabo los movimientos.

     …