‘Operation Enduring Disaster’

‘Operation Enduring Disaster’ by Tariq Ali for TomDispatch, November 16, 2008

Afghanistan has been almost continuously at war for 30 years, longer than both World Wars and the American war in Vietnam combined. Each occupation of the country has mimicked its predecessor. A tiny interval between wars saw the imposition of a malignant social order, the Taliban, with the help of the Pakistani military and the late Benazir Bhutto, the prime minister who approved the Taliban takeover in Kabul.

Over the last two years, the U.S./NATO occupation of that country has run into serious military problems. Given a severe global economic crisis and the election of a new American president—a man separated in style, intellect, and temperament from his predecessor–the possibility of a serious discussion about an exit strategy from the Afghan disaster hovers on the horizon. The  …

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‘The American War Moves to Pakistan’

‘The American War Move to Pakistan’ by Tariq Ali for TomDispatch, September 16, 2008

The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy.

Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the U.S. presence in the region,  …

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From the archive

  • A Review of The Clash of Fundamentalisms

    November 1, 2002

    The Clash of Fundamentalisms reviewed by Sara Powell for The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2002.

    There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. With Tariq Ali’s latest offering, however, many people do. You can’t miss it: a picture of George Bush in Osama bin Laden’s beard and turban, against a blood red background. As we have taken it to conferences throughout the summer, the cover has sold a lot of books, and generated even more double takes. (The back cover shows Bin Laden in a Bush suit and tie behind a presidential podium.)

    But it’s the interior of a book that counts, and what is enclosed between Bush and Bin Laden is a treasure that both men—and you—should read. Written in response to the terror attack on the  …

  • The Extreme Centre

    October 1, 2014

    Project Fear has had a temporary victory in Scotland but its legacy will not be a return to the status quo ante either in Scotland or elsewhere. The mind of the Scottish nation has stirred to new activity. Every single parliamentary constituency in Glasgow voted ‘Yes’. Henceforth the divide in Scotland will always be between the Unionists and those who want independence, and that will be the main issue in 2015: if Labour is dethroned by the SNP, say farewell to the UK state.

    As for the rest of us, we live in a country without an opposition. Westminster is in the grip of an extreme centre that is the coalition plus Labour: yes to austerity, yes to imperial wars, yes to a failing EU, yes to increased security measures, and yes to the status quo. And its leaders: Miliband,  …

  • ‘After Lahore’

    March 26, 2009

    ‘After Lahore’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, March 26, 2009

    The immediate casualty of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier this month will be the future of cricket in Pakistan. A few optimists point out that the Munich massacre didn’t bring the 1972 Olympics to a halt. But I doubt whether even Zimbabwe could now be induced to come and play at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Who can blame them? Pakistan’s captain, Younus Khan, who scored a triple century in the Karachi test a few days before the atrocity, is in mourning. ‘When I was a boy,’ he said,

    I loved watching Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram playing against great teams from overseas. It is because of them, seeing them play, that I also played the  …

  • The Extreme Centre

    October 1, 2014

    Project Fear has had a temporary victory in Scotland but its legacy will not be a return to the status quo ante either in Scotland or elsewhere. The mind of the Scottish nation has stirred to new activity. Every single parliamentary constituency in Glasgow voted ‘Yes’. Henceforth the divide in Scotland will always be between the Unionists and those who want independence, and that will be the main issue in 2015: if Labour is dethroned by the SNP, say farewell to the UK state.

    As for the rest of us, we live in a country without an opposition. Westminster is in the grip of an extreme centre that is the coalition plus Labour: yes to austerity, yes to imperial wars, yes to a failing EU, yes to increased security measures, and yes to the status quo. And its leaders: Miliband,  …

  • ‘The General in his Labyrinth’

    January 13, 2007

    ‘The General in his Labyrinth’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, January 4, 2007

    If there is a single consistent theme in Pervez Musharraf’s memoir, it is the familiar military dogma that Pakistan has fared better under its generals than under its politicians. The first batch of generals were the offspring of the departing colonial power. They had been taught to obey orders, respect the command structure of the army whatever the cost and uphold the traditions of the British Indian Army. The bureaucrats who ran Pakistan in its early days were the product of imperial selection procedures designed to turn out incorruptible civil servants wearing a mask of objectivity. The military chain of command is still respected, but the civil service now consists largely of ruthlessly corrupt time-servers. Once its members were loyal to  …