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’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • The AAP is more confusionist than anarchist

    February 10, 2014

    The following is an interview with Tariq Ali conducted by the Times of India

     

    How do you analyse the AAP phenomenon — is this anarchism entering politics with street protests becoming a popular mode of official expression?

    AAP is one of the many parties on the globe that’s benefited from a widespread distrust of politicians and mainstream politics. People feel disenfranchised — whoever rules, their conditions remain the same. In Italy, the Five Star movement stormed into national parliament on a similar basis.

    These are effectively single-issue parties. AAP is more confusionist than anarchist. As for elected governments mobilising people on the streets, why not? History is shaped by the nameless masses.

    But can AAP, which shifts from leftist resistance against FDI to populist promises of subsidised water and electricity, provide a coherent economic roadmap?

    It is contradictory. All  …

  • Tariq Ali’s speech at the National Demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

    August 13, 2014

    Here is a video of Tariq Ali’s speech at the largest UK demonstration for Gaza on 8th August, London.

  • ‘Pakistan will not forget’

    October 13, 2005

    ‘Pakistan will not forget’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, October 12, 2005

    Why have US, German and British forces in Afghanistan not been mobilised to save lives?

    The scale of the disaster has traumatised the entire country—or perhaps not quite. Here in Lahore a group of people collecting funds for earthquake relief were apprehended and charged. They were amassing money for themselves. Even in the midst of devastation, life goes on. The global media have descended on the country, their reports repeating the same images and the same banal comments every few minutes. Soon they will move on, so that when they are really needed, to monitor relief efforts and reconstruction or keep watch on the funds, they will no longer be there. The citizens of the west will also forget. But Pakistan will never be able  …