‘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

  • Obama at War: The Brooklyn Rail interviews Tariq Ali

    April 9, 2010

    An interview with Tariq Ali by Theodore Hamm and Christian Parenti for The Brooklyn Rail, April 9, 2010

    Rail: What do you make of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recent observation that an “amazing” number of innocent Afghan civilians have been killed by U.S. forces? That fact is not surprising—but shouldn’t such high-level acknowledgment of it provoke real opposition to the war?

    Tariq Ali: It should but it won’t because North American and European citizens (the latter in large majorities) who oppose the war feel disempowered. In the U.S., of course, Obama promised to escalate the war, an election pledge he has carried out with a vengeance and unless directly affected—as in the days of the draft—liberal Americans don’t care that much if foreigners are being killed. McChrystal’s remarks were designed largely for consumption in Afghanistan: he was simultaneously appealing  …

  • A Banker for All Seasons: Crooks and Cheats Inc.

    January 1, 2007

    Published by Seagull, 2007

    During the late seventies and eighties a new logo began to jostle for space with the more traditional landmarks on high streets throughout Britain. It was the badge of a remarkable Third World Bank…the BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International). BCCI soon became a global corporate empire with former US Presidents, ex-British Prime Ministers and a range of dictators on its payroll, all helping with promoting the company. Tariq Ali was the first public voice to warn that the Bank was not all it seemed to be. Indeed, many of its own employees called BCCI the “Bank of Crooks and Cheats Incorporated”. Some political analysts also predicted the company’s collapse. The Bank finally imploded amidst a welter of scandal. This revealing screenplay presents an account of the rise and fall of the Bank  …

  • ‘Blitz Spirit’

    August 16, 2011

    ‘Blitz Spirit’ by Tariq Ali for the London Review of Books blog, August 13, 2011

    The general impression of the Blitz, fostered by war movies and many books, is of a period when intense national solidarity reigned supreme and class was transcended as everybody sang songs and went about their work. But Alexander Cockburn in Counterpunch draws attention to a piece by Gavin Mortimer (author of The Blitz) in the First Post on looting during ‘our finest hour’:

    It didn’t take long for a hardcore of opportunists to realise there were rich pickings available in the immediate aftermath of a raid – and the looting wasn’t limited to civilians.

    In October 1940 Winston Churchill ordered the arrest and conviction of six London firemen caught looting from a burned-out shop to be hushed up…

    In April 1941 Lambeth juvenile court dealt  …