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 interviews John Lennon on revolution and politics

    December 10, 2013

    In this fascinating interview conducted for Red Mole, Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn interview John Lennon at his home, discussing Lennon’s political beliefs and ideological attitude. Tariq Ali remembered their meeting for the Guardian, 30 years after Lennon’s assassination, this week in 1980.

    The day after the interview he rang me and said he had enjoyed it so much that he’d written a song for the movement, which he then proceeded to sing down the line: Power to the People. The events in Derry on Bloody Sunday angered him greatly and he subsequently suggested that he wished to march on the next Troops Out demonstration on Ireland, and did so, together with Yoko Ono, wearing Red Mole T-shirts and holding the paper high. Its headline was: “For the IRA, Against British Imperialism”.’

    The full transcript of the interview can be  …

  • 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.

  • An Open Letter to Fausto Bertinotti on Afghanistan

    July 8, 2006

    An Open Letter to Fausto Bertinotti on Afghanistan by Tariq Ali, July 8, 2006

    Dear Fausto:

    I was surprised to hear that Rifondazione was preparing to vote in favour of keeping Italian troops in Afghanistan, for ‘humanitarian reasons’. I want to try and convince you that this would be a serious error, just as I argued in the last century with those on the left, who supported the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

    Big powers or surrogate states acting on their behalf have no right to occupy countries. The two big projects of the global neo-liberal order have been (1) to insist that the new capitalism is the ‘sole’ way of organising humankind from now till the planet implodes and (2) to disregard national sovereignty as a key to international relations in the name of ‘human rights’.

    A few weeks after  …