‘Death of a Comrade: Peter Gowan: 1946–2009′

‘Death of a Comrade’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Sept-Oct 2009

With the death of Peter Gowan on 12 June 2009, the international left has lost one of its most astute political analysts, and New Left Review the most generous and steadfast of comrades. Peter was a socialist intellectual of the highest calibre, combining enormous energy and independence of mind with a truly collective spirit. A contributor to NLR from the 1970s, he joined the editorial committee in 1984; his interventions in the journal constitute a substantial body of analysis in their own right. His work was translated into many languages and he had readers on every continent; unlike some, he was incredibly patient in replying to their e-mails. He loved a good argument, although he was always extremely courteous to his critics. For me the loss is also deeply  …

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‘Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War’

‘Afghanistan: Mirage of the Good War’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Mar-Apr 2008

Rarely has there been such an enthusiastic display of international unity as that which greeted the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Support for the war was universal in the chanceries of the West, even before its aims and parameters had been declared. NATO governments rushed to assert themselves ‘all for one’. Blair jetted round the world, proselytizing the ‘doctrine of the international community’ and the opportunities for peace-keeping and nation-building in the Hindu Kush. Putin welcomed the extension of American bases along Russia’s southern borders. Every mainstream Western party endorsed the war; every media network—with BBC World and CNN in the lead—became its megaphone. For the German Greens, as for Laura Bush and Cherie Blair, it was a war for the liberation of  …

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‘Mid-Point in the Middle East?’

‘Mid-Point in the Middle East?’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Mar-Apr 2006

Looking down on the world from the imperial grandeur of the Oval Office in the fall of 2001, the Cheney–Bush team was confident of its ability to utilize the September events to remodel the world. The Pentagon’s Vice Admiral Cebrowski summed up the linkage of capitalism to war: ‘the dangers against which US forces must be arrayed derive precisely from countries and regions that are “disconnected” from the prevailing trends of globalization’. Five years later, what is the balance sheet?

On the credit side, Russia, China and India remain subdued, along with Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Here, despite the attempts of Western political science departments to cover the instrumentalist twists of US policy with fig-leaf conceptualizations—‘limited democracies’, ‘tutelary democracies’, ‘illiberal democracies’, ‘inclusionary autocracies’,  …

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‘Remembering Edward Said’

‘Remembering Edward Said’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Nov-Dec 2003

Edward Said was a longstanding friend and comrade. We first met in 1972, at a seminar in New York. Even in those turbulent times, one of the features that distinguished him from the rest of us was his immaculate dress sense: everything was meticulously chosen, down to the socks. It is almost impossible to visualize him any other way. At a conference in his honour in Beirut in 1997, Edward insisted on accompanying Elias Khoury and myself for a swim. As he walked out in his swimming trunks, I asked why the towel did not match. ‘When in Rome’, he replied, airily; but that evening, as he read an extract from the Arabic manuscript of his memoir Out of Place, his attire was faultless. It remained  …

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‘Re-colonizing Iraq’

‘Re-colonizing Iraq’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, May-Jun 2003

On 15 February 2003, over eight million people marched on the streets of five continents against a war that had not yet begun. This first truly global mobilization—unprecedented in size, scope or scale—sought to head off the occupation of Iraq being plotted in the Pentagon. The turnout in Western Europe broke all records: three million in Rome, two million in Spain, a million and a half in London, half a million in Berlin, over a hundred thousand in Paris, Brussels and Athens. In Istanbul, where the local authorities vetoed a protest march in the name of ‘national security’, the peace movement called a press conference to denounce the ban—to which ten thousand ‘journalists’ turned up. In the United States there were mass demonstrations in New York, San  …

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From the archive

  • Tariq Ali speaks to Democracy Now about the European Union’s Nobel Peace Prize

    November 27, 2012

    The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year for its historic role in uniting the continent. Committee chair Thorbjoern Jagland praised the EU for transforming Europe “from a continent of wars to a continent of peace.” The selection surprised many as it comes at a time when much of Europe is facing an economic crisis that threatens the EU’s future. Tariq Ali spoke to Democracy Now about the award and the state of the European Union.

    To see the interview visit the Democracy Now website.

  • ‘Bought with western cash’

    April 7, 2006

    ‘Bought with western cash’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, April 7, 2006

    Independent voices can be heard in Pakistan but NGOs are stifling genuine social movements

    While we were opening the World Social Forum (Asia) with virtuoso performances of sufi music, the country’s rulers were marking the centenary of the Muslim League—the party that created Pakistan and has ever since been passed on from one bunch of rogues to another—by gifting the organisation to General Pervez Musharraf, the country’s uniformed ruler.

    The secular opposition leaders, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, are both in exile. If they returned home they would face arrest for corruption. Neither is in the mood for martyrdom or relinquishing control of their organisations. Meanwhile, the religious parties are happily implementing neoliberal policies in the North-West Frontier Province, which is under their control. Incapable  …

  • International Viewpoint reviews Rough Music

    March 1, 2006

    Rough Music reviewed by Fred LePlat for International Viewpoint, March 2006.

    Tariq Ali’s new short (100 pages) polemical book against New Labour is a must for every socialist. The book was written over the summer, so it is up to date with analysis on the “July days”, the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and the attacks on civil liberties.

    The actions and words of Blair in his un-ending war against terrorism are scrutinised with a forensic approach, and the hypocrisy the prime minister is laid bare with acerbic wit.

    Probably the most interesting part of the book is the description of the unfolding coup by Blair and Campbell against Greg Dyke and the BBC. If virtually all the newspapers supported uncritically Blair’s drive for war, the BBC felt it had to follow the unfolding events  …