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

  • ‘My heart bleeds for Pakistan. It deserves better than this grotesque feudal charade’

    December 31, 2007

    ‘My heart bleeds for Pakistan…’ by Tariq Ali for The Independent, December 31, 2007

    Six hours before she was executed, Mary, Queen of Scots wrote to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France: “…As for my son, I commend him to you in so far as he deserves, for I cannot answer for him.” The year was 1587.

    On 30 December 2007, a conclave of feudal potentates gathered in the home of the slain Benazir Bhutto to hear her last will and testament being read out and its contents subsequently announced to the world media. Where Mary was tentative, her modern-day equivalent left no room for doubt. She could certainly answer for her son.

    A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in  …

  • Michael Arditti on Night of the Golden Butterfly for the Daily Mail

    May 21, 2010

    Night of the Golden Butterfly reviewed by Michael Arditti for the Daily Mail, May 21, 2010

    Tariq Ali may still be best known as a 1960s political firebrand but, in latter years, he has reinvented himself as a novelist of distinction. Night of the Golden Butterfly is the fifth volume of his Islam Quintet. Having traced the tortuous relations between the Muslim world and the West in key historical eras, he now takes on the fraught task of tackling it in the present day.

    Switching between Pakistan, China and Europe, the central narrative concerns four men—Dara, Zahid, Plato and Confucius—who were intellectual and political comrades in 1960s Lahore and are thrown together more than 40 years later when Plato asks Dara to write his biography.

    Dara agrees, but his account focuses less on Plato  …