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

  • ‘Elephantine Corruption’

    December 3, 2010

    ‘Elephantine Corruption’ by Tariq Ali for the London Review of Books Blog, December 3, 2010

    The Wikileaks confirm what we already know about Af-Pak. Pakistan is a US satrapy: its military and political leaders constitute a venal elite happy to kill and maim its people at the behest of a foreign power. The US proconsul in Islamabad, Anne Patterson, emerges as a shrewd diplomat, repeatedly warning her country of the consequences in Pakistan if they carry on as before. Amusing but hardly a surprise is Zardari reassuring the US that if he were assassinated his sister, Faryal Talpur, would replace him and all would continue as before. Always nice to know that the country is regarded by its ruler as a personal fiefdom.

    Then we have the country’s military boss, General Kayani, sweetly suggesting that the Pushtun leader  …

  • ‘This is an Arab 1848. But US hegemony is only dented’

    February 23, 2011

    ‘This is an Arab 1848. But US hegemony is only dented’ by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, February 22 2011

    The refusal of the people to kiss or ignore the rod that has chastised them for so many decades has opened a new chapter in the history of the Arab nation. The absurd, if much vaunted, neocon notion that Arabs or Muslims were hostile to democracy has disappeared like parchment in fire.

    Those who promoted such ideas appear to the most unhappy: Israel and its lobbyists in Euro-America; the arms industry, hurriedly trying to sell as much while it can (the British prime minister acting as a merchant of death at the Abu Dhabi arms fair); and the beleaguered rulers of Saudi Arabia, wondering whether the disease will spread to their tyrannical kingdom. Until now they have provided refuge to  …

  • ‘Pakistan’s drift into the hands of extremists’

    March 3, 2009

    ‘Pakistan’s drift into the hands of extremists’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, March 3, 3009

    The intention of the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team was to send a clear message to Washington: Pakistan is ungovernable

    The appalling terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan had one aim: to demonstrate to Washington that the country is ungovernable. This is the first time that cricketers have been targeted in a land where the sport is akin to religion. It marks the death of international cricket in Pakistan for the indefinite future, but not just that, which is bad enough. The country’s future is looking more and more precarious. We do not know which particular group carried out this attack, but its identity is hardly relevant. The fact is that it took place at a time when  …