Reflections on the Independence Referendum

Scotland has long been a nation. We shall soon find out whether its citizens now wish that nation to become a state. I hope they do. It will not only open up new opportunities for their own country but will break up the atrophied, decaying British state and reduce its efficacy as a US vassal. Hence the appeals from Obama and Hillary Clinton to vote ‘No’, a sentiment Blair fully shares but dare not admit to, fearing that his intervention might tip the balance in the opposite direction. There is no issue of principle here, just imperial interests. The US accelerated the break-up of the old Soviet state, first the Baltic republics, then Ukraine and Central Asia. This was followed by the destruction of Yugoslavia. If Latvia and Slovenia, why not Scotland? After all, the SNP has (regrettably) decided to  …

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What’s going on in Pakistan?

A trip through the dark corridors and political galleries suggests that what we are witnessing in Pakistan today – street demos in Lahore and Islamabad, attempts to seize the prime minister’s house, a token occupation of the state television building – is little more than a crude struggle for power between the incumbents (the two stooges otherwise known as the Sharif brothers) and a segment of the opposition led by Imran Khan and the forces unleashed by the Canadian-based ‘moderate’ Islamist cleric Tahirul Qadri, who controls a large network of madrassahs that were supported by the Sharifs and many others. Mohammad Sarwar, for instance, the governor of Punjab (a millionaire chum of Blair and Brown and former New Labour MP from Glasgow), joined Qadri’s procession, presumably to demonstrate his faith.

Qadri says that democracy has failed the country and cannot  …

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Gallows Humour

Stupidity knows no bounds, especially when fuelled by narcissism and a tongue laced with demagogy. There is no other way to describe George Galloway’s absurd and offensive suggestion that Bradford should impose a total ban on Israeli tourists. Statistically it would be interesting to see how many tourists from any country visit Bradford (even after Galloway’s election as the Respect MP, an election that some of us welcomed at the time).

Politically it’s crazy. There are, after all, many Arab Israelis. Presumably they will not be excluded from savouring the delights of Bradford. And there are many anti-Zionist Israelis, including factions of the hassidim who were and remain opposed to the existence of Israel. Will they be punished too? Will there be Israeli-style checkpoints at every entrance to the city where Israelis will be asked whether or not they’re Zionists?  …

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Disgrace

The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, denounced the bombing of the UN school in Gaza as ‘outrageous’ and ‘unjustifiable’. His officials have described the massacres as a ‘disgrace to the world’. Who stands disgraced? The UN General Assembly has regularly voted in favour of an independent Palestine. It is the Security Council that has vetoed the very thought and the Security Council, as everyone knows, is dominated by the United States; on this issue, Russia and China have remained on message.

What of the broader ‘international community’, in other words the United States/EU/Nato? They have backed Israel. As for the ideologues of the human rights industry, Samantha Power, the queen of ‘humanitarian interventions’, is the US rep on the Security Council and staunchly pro-Israel. Both the House and the Senate have unanimously written Israel a blank cheque; the French Socialist  …

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Motorway Accident in Wales

On Wednesday I received four calls from the BBC’s Good Morning Wales.

First morning call: was I available to be interviewed about Gaza tomorrow morning? I said yes.

First afternoon call: could I tell them what I would say? I said (a) Israel was a rogue state, pampered and cosseted by the US and its vassals. (b) Targeting and killing Palestinian children (especially boys) and blaming the victims was an old Israeli custom. (c) The BBC coverage of Palestine was appalling and if they didn’t cut me off I would explain how and why.

Second afternoon call: was I prepared to debate a pro-Israeli? I said yes.

Afternoon message left on my phone: terribly sorry. There’s been a motorway crash in Wales, so we’ve decided to drop your item.

Click here to view the LRB website. 

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From the archive

  • The Douglas Robb lectures on Radio NZ: A series of three lectures by Tariq Ali

    May 6, 2011

    Radio New Zealand is broadcasting Tariq Ali’s Douglas Robb lectures.

    In a changing world with American military power transcending US economic weaknesses, the amazing rise of China and the continuing occupations in the Arab world and South Asia, what are the likely outcomes? Is it the case, as many argue, that the US empire is now in irretrievable decline? Will China flex its military muscles one day?

    In the first Douglas Robb Lecture

    Tariq Ali explores the contemporary landscape of Islam, focusing on the Middle East, analysing the challenges for Western governments which have supported the regimes now being overthrown by internal rebellions. (duration:49′ 56”)

    Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3

    The second lecture will be broadcast on Sunday 8 May 2011 in which

    Tariq Ali considers how USA power has played out across the world, arguing that although  …

  • The Scotsman interviews Tariq Ali

    July 26, 2010

    Tariq Ali interviewed by Claire Black for The Scotsman, July 26, 2010

    Standing on the doorstep of Tariq Ali’s impressive Highgate house, the echo of the rung bell fading, it feels like an auspicious day to visit. Flicking through the paper on a stuttering train en route to leafy North London, there was a story about the first public sighting for four years of the 82-year-old Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.

    Wearing a white, Nike tracksuit and looking spritely for an octogenarian, it transpires the pictures are a first volley in a media salvo mainly aimed at the US by the veteran revolutionary. Given that Ali, the Pakistani-born, London-based historian, novelist and firebrand commentator, has a long-standing antipathy to what he describes as American “imperialism”, I assume the photographs will at the very least, amuse him.

    As it turns  …