Bush in Babylon: The Recolinisation of Iraq

Published by Verso, 2003

The bestselling history of the resistance in Iraq that vitalized the antiwar movement

The assault and capture of Iraq—and the resistance it has provoked—will shape the politics of the twenty-first century. In Bush in Babylon, Tariq Ali provides a history of Iraqi resistance against empires old and new, and argues against the view that sees imperialist occupation as the only viable solution to bring about regime-change in corrupt and dictatorial states. Like the author’s previous work, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, this book presents a magnificent cultural history.

Detailing the longstanding imperial ambitions of key figures in the Bush administration and how war profiteers close to Bush are cashing in, Bush in Babylon is unique in moving beyond the corporate looting by the US military government to offer the reader an expert and in-depth analysis of the extent of resistance to the US occupation in Iraq.

On 15 February 2003, eight million people marched on the streets of five continents against a war that had not yet begun. A historically unprecedented number of people rejected official justifications for war that the secular Ba’ath Party of Iraq was connected to al-Qaeda or that “weapons of mass destruction” existed in the region, outside of Israel.

Examining how countries from Japan to France eventually rushed to support US aims, as well as the futile UN resistance, Tariq Ali proposes a re-founding of Mark Twain’s mammoth American Anti-Imperialist League (which included William James, W.E.B. DuBois, William Dean Howells, and John Dewey) to carry forward the antiwar movement.

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Reviews: New York Times Book Review

From the archive

  • An Elegy to Fatherland – Night of the Golden Butterfly reviewed by Razeshta Sethna for the Karachi Herald

    July 6, 2010

    Night of the Golden Butterfly reviewed by Razeshta Sethna for the Herald (Karachi), July 6, 2010

    In his latest novel, Tariq Ali traces the relationship between Islam and the West through tumultuous times. The story in Night of the Golden Butterfly begins in present-day “Fatherland”—an unmistakable reference to Pakistan—and travels through China and Europe.

    The central theme of the novel, which is Ali’s latest offering as part of his Islam Quintet, revolves around four friends: Dara, Zahid, Plato and Confucius. With a shared passion for poetry, they are comrades in Lahore in the 1960s. Forty years later they are brought together when Plato gets Dara—possibly named after Dara Shikoh, the Mughal-prince-turned-sufi-poet—to write his biography.

    A renowned painter but deeply scarred, the reclusive Plato acts as the catalyst in the novel: he sets the pace of events and brings  …

  • ‘The same old racket in Iraq’

    December 13, 2003

    ‘The same old racket in Iraq’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, December 13, 2003

    To the victors, the spoils: Bush’s colonialism will only deepen resistance

    Iraq remains a country of unbearable suffering, the sort that only soldiers and administrators acting on behalf of states and governments are capable of inflicting on their fellow humans. It is the first country where we can begin to study the impact of a 21st-century colonisation. This takes place in an international context of globalisation and neo-liberal hegemony. If the economy at home is determined by the primacy of consumption, speculation as the main hub of economic activity and no inviolate domains of public provision, only a crazed utopian could imagine that a colonised Iraq would be any different.

    The state facilities that were so carefully targeted with bombs and shells have  …