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

  • Re-reading Anthony Powell: ‘Come dancing’

    January 26, 2008

    ‘Come dancing’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, January 26, 2008

    Anthony Powell’s 12-book series A Dance to the Music of Time is often seen as the epitome of the English novel. Tariq Ali finds some surprising European connections

    Anthony Powell was the most European of 20th-century British novelists. We need to dispense with the blinkered view that his A Dance to the Music of Time is a novel sequence that can be enjoyed only by English “toffs” or readers of the Daily Telegraph. It’s a prejudice that has dogged Powell for far too long.

    What is on offer in the 12 novels that constitute the Dance (published between 1951 and 1975) is not the nuances of class snobbery, but a reflection of the social history of five crucial decades of the last century, beginning with the end  …

  • 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.

  • ‘Ali talks down the Obama era’

    March 20, 2011

    Tariq Ali interviewed by Mark Naglazas for the West Australian, March 1 2011

    It was one of those moments that will live in the memory of all those who witnessed it, registering and resonating as powerfully as the Moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11 and, for a younger generation, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

    We all knew that Americans would one day vote a black man into the White House but when Barack Hussein Obama put one hand on the Bible and recited the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States, even those who had not voted for him understood the significance of the event for a nation built on the blood, sweat and tears of slaves.

    There were cynics, of course, who tried to smear the 49-year-old Harvard graduate as  …

  • 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.

  • How Vladimir Putin became evil

    March 31, 2014

    Once again, it seems that Russia and the United States are finding it difficult to agree on how to deal with their respective ambitions. This clash of interests is highlighted by the Ukrainian crisis. The provocation in this particular instance, as the leaked recording of a US diplomat, Victoria Nuland, saying “Fuck the EU” suggests, came from Washington.

    Several decades ago, at the height of the cold war, George Kennan, a leading American foreign policy strategist invited to give the Reith Lectures, informed his audience: “There is, let me assure you, nothing in nature more egocentric than embattled democracy. It soon becomes the victim of its own propaganda. It then tends to attach to its own cause an absolute value which distorts its own vision … Its enemy becomes the embodiment of all evil. Its own side is the centre  …